How to complete the PSLF form to be eligible for a pardon

Note that the student loan situation has changed due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and the relief efforts of the government, student loan lenders and others. This includes stopping student loan repayments held by the federal government, with deferred payments still count towards the civil service loan forgiveness. Check out our Student Loans Hero Coronavirus Information Center for news and additional details.

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When working at Public Service Loan Remission (PSLF), it helps to submit the Certificate of Employment form every year to verify your employment (or at least whenever you change employers). After 10 years and 120 qualifying student loan payments, you will be ready to submit the PSLF Student Loan Waiver Form.

Let’s take a look at the following three topics to see how you can complete the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Form to get loan forgiveness and tips to help you qualify.

What the Public Service Loan forgiveness program offers

The Public Service Loan forgiveness program (PSLF) launched in 2007. Its promise: If you pay off your loans each month while working in a government or non-profit agency, the rest will be canceled after 10 years.

Unfortunately, the execution was far from smooth. In 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reported that many loan officers had mismanaged the PSLF for their borrowers. Others were criticism of the cost of the PSLF, and the Trump administration has repeatedly offered to discontinue the program in its annual budget proposals.

Regardless of future changes to the program, people who are already pursuing the PSLF should remain eligible – and September 2017 was the first time a borrower was eligible for apply to the PSLF.

How to complete the PSLF student loan forgiveness form

If you are one of those borrowers who have worked in the public service for 10 years, then it is time to apply to the PSLF.

The first step is complete this student loan forgiveness form. You will need to complete the civil service loan forgiveness application for each employer you have had while making your 120 qualifying payments.

Image of the Ministry of Education

Unless you specify otherwise, the Ministry of Education put your loan on hold while it processes your request. During this period, you will not have to make any payments, but your loan will accumulate interest, which you will have to pay if your application is refused.

After completing the PSLF form, you can submit it by mail, or upload it directly to the FedLoan site if FedLoan is your server. The addresses and directions can be found on page 4 of the app, where you will also find the numbers to call for help.

Once the Ministry of Education receives all of your documents, they will notify you. According to his PSLF FAQ, processing times may vary depending on factors such as:

  • That you submitted Employment attestation forms over the years (if you have, your request will “likely be processed faster”)
  • The number of employers you had
  • Gaps in your employment or payment history

If your application is approved, the Department of Education will write off all interest and principal overdue on your eligible direct loans. If you have made more than 120 qualifying payments, the additional amount will be refunded to you. In addition, you will not have to pay taxes on the amount remittedunlike other forgiveness programs.

If, however, your application is denied, the Ministry of Education will notify you with the reason. At this point, you will have to start repaying your loans again and you will be responsible for all interest accrued during the forbearance. Plus, as the Department of Education warned, that interest “can be capitalized” – this means that the interest could be added to your principal, forcing you to make payments on an amount greater than what you started.

If you believe the Department of Education is wrong in its denial, you can submit additional information to support your case, and FedLoan Servicing will reassess its decision.

What you need to qualify for the civil service loan forgiveness

It is important that you do not apply to the PSLF until you are sure you are eligible.

Forbearing your loans could be a costly mistake if your civil service loan forgiveness request is denied. During the processing period, you would also miss out on many months of qualifying loan payments.

So, before filling out the PSLF form, review each of the conditions below to see if you are eligible:

1. You have direct loans
2. You benefit from an income-based repayment plan
3. You work full time with an eligible employer
4. You have made 120 eligible payments

1. You have direct loans

Although there are many types of federal student loans, only direct loans are eligible for the PSLF. To check what types of loans you have, log into your Federal Student Aid account.

If you have more than one type of federal loan, you can consolidate them into a direct consolidation loan so that they qualify, but your past loan payments won’t count. In other words, the clock of your 120 payments will start again. So think carefully before you consolidate.

Are your loans direct loans? If so, continue. Otherwise, learn more about direct loan consolidation.

2. You benefit from an income-based repayment plan

IMPORTANT UPDATE (Oct 12, 2021):
As of October 2021, the government allows all federal loan repayments to count towards the PSLF, regardless of the payment plan, for those who apply (or have applied) to the program before October 31, 2022.

This will be retroactive to include previously ineligible payments. However, there is some fine print, so you will need to check with your repairman to be sure. Here are all the main details for these new, more lenient standards.

Below is the original text of this article, outlining the previous standards in place before October 2021:

When you finish your studies, you automatically benefit from a standard 10-year repayment plan. But that wouldn’t work for PSLF; after 10 years there would be nothing more to forgive.

Instead, you must be enrolled in an Income-Based Repayment Plan (IDR) that fixes your payments at a percentage of your income. If your payments go as low as $ 0 that’s fine, but you must be on one of these plans.

Are you signed up for an IDR plan? If so, continue. Otherwise, learn more about income-based repayment plans.

3. You work full time with an eligible employer

Your job is what qualifies you for PSLF. You must work according to your employer’s definition of “full-time,” or at least 30 hours per week, for a non-profit or government organization.

To keep track of your employers, you must submit an employment attestation form each time you change jobs. As proof of your employment, the Department of Education suggested keeping the W2s and pay stubs.

It’s important to note that you must be working for an eligible employer at the time of your application and at the time of pardon, according to the Department of Education. So, don’t join the private sector until your loans have been canceled.

Were you working full time with an eligible employer when you made your 120 payments and are you still working for an employer now? If so, continue. Otherwise, learn more about eligible careers in the public service.

4. You have made 120 eligible payments

Finally, you must have made 120 qualifying monthly payments. These payments must have been made after October 1, 2007, in full within 15 days of the due date and while you were on an RDI plan and working for an eligible employer.

However, the payments do not have to be consecutive. If, for example, you were employed in the private sector between two nonprofit jobs, you can count the payments you made on each side.

If you are not sure how many qualifying payments you have made, you can log into the FedLoan Service site to check. If your loans have not yet been transferred, you can submit the Certificate of Employment form, after which the Ministry of Education will send a letter indicating the number of payments you have left.

Did you make 120 eligible payments? And have you answered “yes” to all of the above questions? Then you are ready to apply to the PSLF!

Take your time when filling out the PSLF form, keep copies of everything and make sure you stay at your qualifying job until your loans have been canceled.

Rebecca Safier contributed to this report.

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