You can have your federal student loans forgiven if you make 120 qualifying payments while working for the government or a nonprofit organization or volunteering with AmeriCorps or Peace Corps. A qualifying payment is one that you made on time, for the full amount due, and under a qualifying repayment plan, i.e., one of the income-driven repayment plans — IBR, ICR, REPAYE, etc. — or the 10-Year Standard Repayment Plan.
Related: What Repayment Plans Qualify for PSLF?
Working in public service and making monthly payments under the right repayment plan isn’t enough to get your loans forgiven. You also have to have the right type of loan: Direct Loans.
The Department of Education used to offer three types of federal loans:
It ended the FFEL and Perkins Loan programs by the mid-2010s. If you went to school before then, you may have loans that don’t qualify for PSLF.
Related: How to Consolidate Student Loans for PSLF?
The good news is that you can consolidate your non-qualifying loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan. This will combine all of your loans into one loan. The bad news — at least until recently — is that you’ll have to make student loan payments on the new loan for 10 years before your remaining balance can be forgiven.
The White House temporarily changed the eligibility requirements for the PSLF program during the pandemic by expanding which borrowers could get credit for their payments. Before it ended on Oct. 31, the Limited PSLF Waiver counted payments borrowers made under any student loan repayment plan. It also gave them credit for some of their time in forbearance or deferment. Read more about retroactive student loan forgiveness.
Even though the waiver ended on Halloween, you can still take advantage of it if (1) you have Direct Loans and (2) you used the PSLF Help Tool on the Federal Student Aid website, StudentAid.gov, to generate an employment certification form before the deadline passed.
If you still work in public service, you can also take advantage of permanent changes to the PSLF rules. Borrowers can now receive credit for late, piecemeal, and lump sum payments thanks to those fixes. The department will also credit them for certain periods of deferment or forbearance, including for cancer treatment and service in the military, AmeriCorps, National Guard, or Peace Corps.
Submit an employment certification form to MOHELA before May 1, 2023, to apply for PSLF under the new relaxed rules.
Related: Public Service Loan Forgiveness for Military Service
* Borrowers can’t get credit for grace-period, bankruptcy, and in-school deferments.