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The limited Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) waiver made it easier for federal student loan borrowers to qualify for forgiveness under the program. Eligible borrowers received a one-time account adjustment, receiving credit for payments that did not previously qualify toward the 120-payment requirement.
The limited waiver expired on October 31, 2022, however. If you missed the deadline, here are some steps you can take to address your student loans and get some relief.
1. Watch for an Income-Driven Repayment Adjustment
While you may not have benefited from the PSLF waiver, you may still get credit toward forgiveness on an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. The Department of Education will make a one-time adjustment to add the following payments toward your eligibility:
- Any months in a repayment status, regardless of the payments made, loan type or repayment plan
- Twelve or more months of consecutive forbearance, or 36 or more months of cumulative forbearance
- Months spent in economic hardship or military deferments after 2013
- Months spent in any deferment (with the exception of in-school deferment) prior to 2013
- Any time in repayment on earlier loans prior to consolidation of those loans into a consolidation loan
If you've accumulated 240 or 300 monthly payments (based on your IDR plan) with the adjustment, you'll get automatic forgiveness. If not, you'll be that much closer to forgiveness.
2. Wait for Some PSLF Waiver Details to Become Permanent
Shortly before the limited PSLF waiver expired, the Department of Education announced that it would make some aspects of the waiver permanent, along with some other updates to the program, starting in July 2023.
More specifically, here's what is expected to be implemented:
- PSLF-eligible borrowers will receive credit for payments that are made late, in installments or in a lump sum.
- Certain periods in deferment or forbearance will count toward PSLF, especially in instances where borrowers made payments equivalent to what they would have owed at the time.
- When you consolidate your loans to enter the PSLF program, you'll receive a weighted average of existing qualifying payments toward eligibility for forgiveness.
- There will be a single standard of full-time employment at 30 hours a week. Employers of adjunct and contingent faculty must provide credit of at least 3.35 hours of work for every credit hour taught.
- Qualifying employers will be able to certify employment for a contractor if that individual is providing services that, by state law, cannot be filled or provided by an employee of that organization.
3. Apply for PSLF
If you haven't already applied for the PSLF program, now is a good time to get started. To qualify, you must meet the following criteria:
- Work full time for a government agency or eligible nonprofit organization
- Have direct loans, or consolidate your other federal loans into a direct loan
- Repay your loans on an IDR plan
- Make 120 qualifying payments
If you don't already have direct loans on an IDR plan, take the first step to consolidate your loans, if necessary, and get on one of the four IDR plans that are currently available.
You can also use the PSLF help tool to find out if your employer qualifies. You'll also use the tool to certify your employment each year and generate your PSLF form, so you can sign it and submit it to your PSLF loan servicer.
4. Look Into Other Forgiveness and Loan Repayment Assistance Programs
The PSLF program is just one of many ways student loan borrowers can obtain relief with their student loans. Other jobs that qualify you for forgiveness or repayment assistance include:
- Other health professionals
- Military service members
- Public defenders
Additionally, many private employers offer student loan repayment assistance as an employee benefit. Depending on your job, research your options online to get an idea of what's available for you.
Will the PSLF Waiver Be Extended?
The Department of Education has not announced plans to extend the PSLF waiver, and those borrowers who missed out will be able to take advantage of some of its benefits in July 2023 when the new PSLF rules go into effect.
Additionally, note that the Biden administration's general federal student loan forgiveness plan, which is currently wrapped up in legal battles, has no impact on the PSLF situation because it's a separate forgiveness program.
Make a Plan to Tackle Your Student Loan Debt
If you have federal student loans, you likely haven't needed to make monthly payments since March 2020. The payment moratorium will stay in place while Biden's student loan forgiveness plan remains in legal battles, and for a while afterward.
While you may not yet need to make monthly payments, review these and other actions you can take to improve your odds of getting help paying down your student loans and getting relief, whether it's forgiveness, lower payments, repayment assistance and more.