Federal Employee Student Loan Forgiveness — 2023

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Updated on September 16, 2023

Student loan forgiveness for federal employees is a crucial benefit, available mainly through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program for government workers and GS employees.

You might think that federal employment offers a clear path to dissolving your student loan debt, but the reality is far more nuanced. Programs like PSLF and Income-Based Repayment (IBR) are tailored to different career stages and financial situations. PSLF promises debt relief after a 10-year commitment to public service, while IBR forgiveness serves as an alternative for those who entered government work later in life, with forgiveness achievable in 20 to 25 years.

These longstanding programs operate independently of the political tides in Washington, D.C., giving you a reliable route to debt relief regardless of legislative or judicial changes.

Ahead, we’ll share how federal employees can get their student loan debt forgiven.

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What Is Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

Public Service Loan Forgiveness, or PSLF, is a program that wipes out the remaining balance of your federal student loans. This happens after you’ve made 120 monthly payments—basically, 10 years—while working for a government or nonprofit organization.

Why Should Federal Employees Care About PSLF?

  • Save Money: Imagine not having to worry about your student loans after 10 years. That’s what PSLF offers.

  • Career Freedom: You can work in a government job without stressing over student loan debt.

  • Reward for Public Service: It’s a way for the country to say thank you for your service in a public sector job.

Who Can Get PSLF?

Four Key Requirements:

  1. Your Employment: You must work full-time for a qualifying employer. All federal government jobs are eligible, as are positions at not-for-profit organizations, military service, and volunteer work with the AmeriCorps.

  2. Your Loans: Only federal Direct Loans qualify. If you have Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL), Federal Perkins Loans, or Parent PLUS Loans, consider consolidating them into a Direct Consolidation Loan for eligibility.

  3. Your Payment Plan: You must be enrolled in a qualifying repayment plan—one of the income-driven repayment plans, where your monthly payments are based on your income.

  4. Your Payment History: Make 120 on-time payments. These don’t need to be consecutive, but they must be timely to count as a PSLF qualifying payment.

Steps to Apply for PSLF

  1. Verify Your Employer: Use the PSLF Help Tool on the Federal Student Aid website, StudentAid.gov, to confirm that your government organization qualifies for PSLF.

  2. Choose an Income-Driven Plan: You need to be on a repayment plan that calculates your payments based on your income.

  3. Start Making Payments: Initiate the 120 on-time payments required for loan forgiveness.

  4. Submit Annual Forms: Each year, fill out a PSLF employment certification form and submit it to MOHELA to confirm you’re still in qualifying public service.

  5. Apply for the Good Stuff: After your 120th payment, it’s time to apply for loan forgiveness. Submit a new PSLF Form to MOHELA to kick off the application process.

How to Submit Your PSLF Form to MOHELA

After getting your form signed by your employer, you have several options for submission:

  • By Mail: U.S. Department of Education MOHELA 633 Spirit Drive Chesterfield, MO 63005-1243

  • By Fax: Send your form to fax number 866-222-7060.

  • Online: If MOHELA is already your loan servicer, you can upload the form directly on their website.

What is Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plan Forgiveness?

Income-Driven Repayment Plan Forgiveness, known as IDR Forgiveness, is another pathway to have your federal student loans forgiven.

Unlike PSLF, which requires a decade of service in the public sector, IDR Forgiveness kicks in after 20 to 25 years of payments, depending on your plan.

Why is IDR Forgiveness a Backup Benefit for Federal Employees?

  • Long-Standing Loans: If you’ve had federal student loans for 20 years or more, this could be your ticket to forgiveness.

  • Late to Public Service: New to a government job but have had loans for years? IDR might be quicker for you.

  • Left Public Service: If you’ve left a government job before qualifying for PSLF, IDR Forgiveness can still be an option.

Recent Developments in IDR Forgiveness

  1. Automatic Debt Elimination: The Biden administration has cleared $39 billion in federal loans for over 800,000 borrowers via a one-time IDR Waiver.

  2. Fast-Tracking Forgiveness: Mistakes made by loan servicers in the past are being corrected, accelerating the forgiveness process for borrowers who have held loans for 20 years or more.

  3. No Application Required: If you have eligible loans made under the Direct Loan Program, this relief will automatically apply to you and will continue through 2023.

  4. Impact on Other Programs: Note that past periods of repayment, deferment, and forbearance could count towards your PSLF and IDR Forgiveness. Learn more about the IDR Waiver.

Who Can Benefit from IDR Forgiveness?

Here’s what you need to qualify:

  1. Your Loans: Federal student loans owned directly by the Department of Education.

  2. Your Plan: Must be enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan.

  3. Your Payments: Payments capped at a percentage of your income, made for 20-25 years.

Steps to Leverage IDR Forgiveness

Here’s how to make the most of it:

  1. Check Your Loan Type: Make sure your loans are eligible.

  2. Enroll in an IDR Plan: If not already, get on an income-driven repayment plan.

  3. Keep Track: Make sure your student loan payments are counted correctly.

  4. Stay Informed: Keep an eye on announcements for further automatic relief.

Additional Loan Relief Options for Federal Employees

If you’re a federal employee, you have more options than just Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Income-Driven Repayment Forgiveness.

And the best part?

You can often use these programs along with PSLF and IDR to speed up your loan relief.

The Federal Student Loan Repayment Program

This program helps federal agencies attract and keep top-notch employees by offering to pay off some of their federal student loans.

  • Who Can Get It: Your agency decides whether you’re “highly qualified,” meaning you have skills they really need.

  • What Loans Qualify: Only federal student loans. No private loans.

  • Parents Take Note: If you borrowed federal loans for your child, you could be eligible, too.

  • How Much Help: You can get up to $10,000 a year, but there’s a $60,000 lifetime cap.

  • Tax Catch: The money you get counts as income, so you’ll pay taxes on it.

How to Get This Benefit

There’s no standard application. Instead, check your agency’s website or ask your boss for info. If you’re already on the job, your supervisor can fill you in on how to qualify.

Perkins Loan Cancellation

This isn’t just for federal employees, but it’s still worth looking into.

  • Who Can Get It: Depends on your job within the federal government.

  • How Much Help: Could cancel up to 100% of your Perkins Loans over five years.

Mix and Match for Maximum Relief

You don’t have to pick just one program. Many federal employees mix and match PSLF, IDR, and other programs to get the most loan relief possible.

Smart Move: If you’re eligible for more than one program, talk to a loan expert to plan your best strategy.

Making the Right Choice: PSLF vs. IDR vs. Other Options

Looking to get your student loans forgiven as a federal employee? You’ve got options: PSLF for the long-haul, IDR for those late to public service, and even a specialized federal program for high earners.

Let’s break it down.

The Quick Comparison


Who It's For

What You Need to Do

The Pros

The Cons


The Lifelong Public Servant

10 years of service & 120 payments

Tax-free forgiveness

Locked into public sector jobs

2. IDR

The Latecomer to Public Service

20-25 years of payments

Flexible payments

Watch out for taxes

3. Federal Loan Repayment

The High Earner with Manageable Debt

Specific agencies & roles only

Up to $10,000/year relief

Taxable & may not cover all debt

The Inner Workings: What You Really Need to Know

  • PSLF: Think of PSLF as a decade-long commitment to public service. The payoff? You’re free from federal student loans, tax-free.

  • IDR: Already spent years in the workforce? IDR is your backup plan. Just be prepared for the taxman when your debt is forgiven.

  • Federal Loan Repayment Program: It’s not just about paying off your loans. It’s a strategic choice. If you’re in a specialized field, this program can give you a head start on debt relief.

Bottom Line

Understanding your student loan forgiveness options as a federal employee is critical.

The choices you make now can have long-term financial consequences.

Our team specializes in helping federal employees navigate these decisions effectively.

If you’re ready to formulate a personalized repayment and forgiveness plan, book a call with our team today.

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Do Federal Employees Qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness?

Yes, federal employees qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness as U.S. government agencies are considered qualifying employers.

Is Student Loan Forgiveness Exclusive to Government Employees?

No, student loan forgiveness isn't limited to government employees. It's also available to those working for 501(c)(3) non-profits and certain other types of organizations.

Do Federal Jobs Count for PSLF?

Yes, federal jobs are considered government employment and qualify for the PSLF Program.

Does Past Government Employment Qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

Yes, past government employment counts for PSLF, even if non-consecutive. But you must hold a qualifying job at the time of loan forgiveness. Submit a PSLF form for each of the required 120 payments. The PSLF Help Tool can assist in form completion.

What Does the New IRS Memo Mean for Student Loan Forgiveness?

Eligible IRS employees can now apply for a Student Loan Repayment Program until June 30. The program offers up to $10,000 annually, with a $60,000 lifetime limit. Applicants must commit to three years of IRS employment. Payments are made directly to lenders after tax withholding.

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