#1 Student Loan Lawyer
Updated on November 12, 2022
Military service members who served on active duty any time after Oct. 1, 2007, can get credit towards the Public Service Loan Forgiveness, but they’ll need 120 qualifying payments and Direct Loans before their debt is forgiven.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program was created to encourage students to forego more lucrative careers in favor of potentially low-paying careers such as teaching, firefighting, or military service that benefit our society. It wipes out the remaining balance owed on your federal Direct Loans after you’ve worked full-time for the government or nonprofit organization and made 10 years’ worth of payments, for 120 qualifying payments, under an income-driven repayment plan.
The PSLF Program is open to all military service members and veterans who served on active duty anytime after Oct. 1, 2007 — in some cases, even if they never applied for relief. Members of the Reserves and National Guard may also be eligible for periods of full-time service. More on that is below.
You can use the PSLF Help Tool on the Federal Student Aid website, StudentAid.gov, to check your eligibility based on the types of loans you have and your employer.
Keep reading to learn more about PSLF for military service.
Related: Military Student Loan Forgiveness
Does military service count for PSLF?
Members of the military can get PSLF credit for time spent on active duty. Nevertheless, only some have had their loans forgiven. Only 124 of the nearly 180 thousand active-duty service members and Department of Defense employees have ever had their student debt forgiven, according to a 2021 report from the Government Accountability Office. The U.S. Department of Education rejected 94% of the PSLF applications made by military service members.
Don’t let those numbers discourage you, though.
The Biden administration has overhauled the PSLF program since taking office. Some of the changes were temporary. Others have been made permanent.
The end result has been that tens of thousands of public servants have already had their student debt forgiven tax-free. Many more members of the Airforce, Army, Marines, Navy, National Guard, and DOD personnel will join them in the coming months.
How to verify military service for PSLF
Active-duty service members. Your PSLF Form can be signed by a commanding officer or any official who has access to your service records and is authorized to certify your time in service.
Veterans. Finding someone to sign your PSLF form after your military career ends can be challenging. Thankfully, you don’t need to track down members from your leadership team. You can instead submit a copy of your DD-214 with an employment certification form to get PSLF credit. On the form, you’ll need to check that says, “Check this box if you cannot obtain certification from your employer because the organization is closed or because the organization has refused to certify your employment. The Department will follow up to assist you in getting documentation of your employment.”
The PSLF Waiver
The most significant temporary change the White House made to the PSLF program ended on Halloween. For the past year, the Department of Education has allowed borrowers to get retroactive PSLF credit for all the monthly payments they made under any payment plan and time spent in long-term forbearances and deferments. It also counted payments made towards Federal Family Education Loans and Federal Perkins Loans.
Since the Limited PSLF Waiver was announced last year, almost 250 thousand people who worked for a public service employer sometime after the program began in 2007 have applied for relief. The department has erased more than $14 billion in federal student loan debt through this initiative. It expects to wipe out billions more once the loan servicer administering the program, MOHELA, finishes processing the PSLF forms submitted by the Oct. 31 deadline.
Although the deadline has passed, you can still apply for the waiver if you generated a PSLF form through StudentAid.gov before the deadline or if a qualifying employer signed an employment certification form by that date.
Related: PSLF Refund Overpayment
Permanent changes to PSLF
The Education Department finalized a series of changes to its student loan forgiveness programs, making it easier for service members and veterans to get relief in the future.
The new PSLF rules will allow borrowers to get credit for late payments and periods when their accounts were in deferment or forbearance. The department also plans to review borrowers’ accounts in July to make a one-time adjustment that will give service members PSLF credit for payments they made through an income-driven repayment plan.
Related: IDR Waiver & Account Adjustment
You’re eligible for this new benefit if you’re still serving on active duty or working for a qualifying employer and have a loan made through the Direct Loan Program. If you have an FFEL Loan, you’ll need to consolidate your loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan by May 1, 2023.
Learn More: How to Consolidate Student Loans for PSLF
Military service members and veterans qualify for PSLF. Over the past two years, the White House has overhauled the program to ensure that more public servants get their loans forgiven through the program.
I’ve helped hundreds of people get PSLF Forgiveness. I’d love to help you. Schedule a call so we can ensure you have the right loan type and are enrolled in the best plan to get the lowest monthly payments while earning credit toward forgiveness.