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Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness

PSLF, or Public Service Loan Forgiveness, allows those who have served in the military, as well as federal, state, local, or tribal government agencies, public transportation, water, or bridge districts, public housing authorities, not-for-profit organizations that are tax-exempt.

These may include civilian service to the military, emergency management, public safety, law enforcement, early childhood education, and public service for people with disabilities, teaching at a tribal college or university or teaching in a high-need subject area for ten years or more who have federal student loans.

To meet the requirements for Public Service Loan Forgiveness you must also be employed full-time with direct loans and have a repayment plan that is either income-based or participate in the standard ten year repayment plan. Loans forgiven under this program will not be considered income and negatively affect tax filings with the IRS.

Related: Post-9/11 GI Bill Overview

Does my loan qualify for forgiveness under PSLF?

If your loan is not in default, paid up and on time, and falls under the Federal Family Education Loan Program, the Federal Perkins Loan Program or other federal student loan programs, and you meet other eligibility requirements, your loan does not qualify for PSLF.

The only loans that will match the criteria are Only Direct Loan Program loans.

Which government employers qualify for PSLF?

U.S. government organizations, as well as the Peace Corps and Americorps, including U.S. military branches, school districts, and other federal employees can be approved for PSLF. Qualifying employees can be police officers and law enforcement, firefighters, public defenders and many other career options that serve the public.

To find out if your employer meets specifications, use the PSLF Employer Search Tool. 

Some non-profit organizations may also count as qualifying employers. Using the PSLF Employer Search Tool, check if your eligible not-for-profit organization, including those tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) meets the standard.

Other factors to consider are if the not-for-profit organization devotes most of its full-time equivalent employees to providing certain qualifying public services.

Qualifying public services include but may not be limited to civilian service to the military, military services, law enforcement, emergency management and public safety.

Public education, public health, library and public services for the elderly and those with disabilities will also qualify. Labor union or partisan organizations, however, will not be eligible.

Related: Post-9/11 GI Bill Overview

Do I really have to wait 10 years to file for PSLF?

To qualify for PSLF, it is required that you make 120 monthly payments total. Making bigger lump sum payments does not equate to more payments and does not speed up eligibility.

If you make large lump sum payments, those payment amounts will be spread out to cover upcoming monthly payments.

If you paid six months’ worth of funds at once, it would count for six monthly payments, but you would not be certified for that many payments until the six months finishes. You may save money in interest, however, it will not make the eligibility come sooner.

How can I submit a PSLF form?

The PSLF Help Tool can guide you through submitting documents online. Create a username and password, then log on to find the correct forms. Your employer will be required to sign your document. To do so electronically, give your employer’s email address and send them a request to sign digitally.

Typed signatures will be rejected. Digital signatures must be drawn on the screen and approved for use. Once signed, the electronic form will be processed.

You may also submit a form by hard copy. Download the form through the PSLF Help Tool and then follow the manual signature path. Using the My Activity page, you should be able to download and print the form.

Once you and your employer have signed the printed form, you may send it to:

U.S. Department of Education
P.O. Box 300010
Greenville, TX 75403

What if I still have questions about PSLF?

If you still need help in the application process or have additional questions before submission, visit the Help Center online. There you can find help through the live chat or email functions. For continued support through the process, reach out to the PSLF help line at (855) 265-4038.

Related: Post-9/11 GI Bill Overview

About the author

Kena Sosa

Kena Sosa is an award-winning author, filmmaker and percussionist. She earned her BA from OLLU and her MBEGT from SMU. She published two award-winning children’s books. Kena has written for CBS/DFW Local and Multicultural Review Magazine. She was the Guest Editor for the Fall/Winter 2023 ChildArt Magazine issue. Kena has written for Recon Media since 2023.