Loans Student Loans Managing Your Student Loans How To Apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness How to make sure you qualify for PSLF By Elyssa Kirkham Elyssa Kirkham Twitter Elyssa Kirkham is an expert on student loans and student loan issues. A personal finance journalist for nearly a decade, she covers consumer credit in addition to her specialization in education debt and financing. She holds a B.A. from Brigham Young University, Idaho. learn about our editorial policies Updated on November 23, 2022 Reviewed by Samantha Silberstein Reviewed by Samantha Silberstein Twitter Samantha Silberstein is a Certified Financial Planner, FINRA Series 7 and 63 licensed holder, State of California Life, Accident, and Health Insurance Licensed Agent, and CFA. She spends her days working with hundreds of employees from non-profit and higher education organizations on their personal financial plans. learn about our financial review board Fact checked by Ariana Chávez Fact checked by Ariana Chávez Ariana Chávez has over a decade of professional experience in research, editing, and writing. She has spent time working in academia and digital publishing, specifically with content related to U.S. socioeconomic history and personal finance among other topics. She leverages this background as a fact checker for The Balance to ensure that facts cited in articles are accurate and appropriately sourced. learn about our editorial policies In This Article View All In This Article How Public Service Loan Forgiveness Works How To Qualify for PSLF Qualification Problems Using the PSLF Help Tool The PSLF Application Photo: Westend61 / Getty Images Borrowers can qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program by working in public service while making qualifying payments for a period of 10 years. This program can help offset the costs of schooling and the burden of student debt for professionals who choose to work at nonprofit or government organizations. Note On Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, the Biden administration extended the pause on payments and interest on federal student loans for the eighth time. Borrowers with federal student loans won’t have to make payments, and loans won’t resume accumulating interest until 60 days after court cases challenging Biden’s student loan forgiveness program are resolved or the Department of Education is allowed to move forward with the program. If the cases aren’t resolved by June 30, 2023, payments will resume two months after that. Qualifying for PSLF requires understanding the requirements and taking the right steps. How Public Service Loan Forgiveness Works You must be employed in government or in a 501(c)(3) nonprofit job to qualify for PSLF. Your loans must be in a qualifying income-driven repayment plan. Each full, on-time payment you make while satisfying these requirements will count toward the required 120 payments for forgiveness. Biden's New IDR Plan On Aug. 24, 2022, President Joe Biden’s administration proposed a new plan for federal student loan repayment for undergraduate loans. The plan would cap monthly payments at 5% of your monthly income. After 10 years, whatever remaining balance you have would be eliminated if the original loan balance was $12,000 or less. Borrowers are required to submit the PSLF forgiveness form to apply for loan forgiveness after making 120 monthly payments and while still working for a qualifying employer. The remaining loan balance is forgiven when the servicer verifies payments. Military service members and federal employees are exempt from submitting an application, however, due to changes made to the PSLF program by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) in October 2021. The government began automatically providing credit using federal data matches for these individuals in 2022. How To Qualify for PSLF Borrowers must meet several requirements to qualify for PSLF. The Employer Rule You must work at a qualifying government or nonprofit organization. This includes government organizations at the federal, state, local, or tribal levels. A nonprofit organization qualifies if it’s tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code, or if it provides a qualifying public service. Note A nonprofit organization without 501(c)(3) status can be a qualified PSLF employer if it offers certain services, according to the Department of Education. These include law enforcement, emergency management, military service, public library services, or nursing. Full-Time Employment You must meet your employer’s definition of working full-time, or work at least 30 hours per week, whichever is greater. Working part-time at two or more qualifying employers at least 30 hours a week will also qualify you. Loan Type Only loans made through the William D. Ford General Direct Loan Program (direct loans) qualified for PSLF prior to October 2021. The DOE changed this provision and loans from the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program or Perkins Loan Program are eligible. The Repayment Plan Borrowers must enroll in a qualifying repayment plan, which includes all income-driven repayment (IDR) plans. You must remain enrolled in your repayment plan and certify your income each year. Note On Aug. 24, 2022, President Biden announced via Twitter the cancellation of $10,000 of federal student loan debt for eligible borrowers, and $20,000 for federal Pell Grant recipients. The standard repayment plan qualifies for PSLF, but this plan sets monthly payments to repay student loans in 10 years—the same amount of time it takes to become eligible for PSLF. This will leave no remaining balance to forgive. Required Payments You must make 120 qualifying monthly payments to complete the PSLF program. You must pay the full amount due no later than 15 days after the due date while working for a qualifying employer. Qualification Problems Navigating the PSLF program isn’t always straightforward or easy. As a result, some borrowers might think they’re making progress toward PSLF when their payments don’t actually meet the requirements. Some common issues can derail borrowers’ progress toward PSLF: Ineligible loans: Private student loans don't qualify. Perkins loans and Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) do qualify, however, subsequent to the DOE's October 2021 changes. Ineligible repayment plan: Payments must be made while enrolled in an IDR plan. Your payments may not qualify for PSLF if you don’t enroll in an IDR plan, or if you fail to recertify your income, Paying early or late: You can only make one qualifying payment per month toward PSLF. Early or extra payments won’t get you to 120 payments faster. Payments that are missed or that are more than 15 days late won’t qualify, either. Deferment or forbearance: Payments are suspended and you don’t get credit toward your 120 payments during deferment or forbearance periods unless you're on active duty military service. This is also DOE change from previous rules. Otherwise, you can contact your loan servicer to waive your deferment period so your payments will count if you’re able to make payments during a time of deferment. Note The forbearance of student loan payments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is treated differently for PSLF than other forbearances. You'll receive credit toward PSLF during the COVID forbearance as if you were making monthly payments as long as you meet other requirements. Using the PSLF Help Tool The Department of Education’s PSLF Help Tool helps borrowers understand the requirements for forgiveness. You must log in with your FSA ID to access the PSLF tool. Using it is relatively simple: Review the PSLF requirements and information on eligibility.Enter your employer information and the tool will tell you if it's a qualifying employer for PSLF.View each of your student loan’s eligibility or ineligibility for PSLF, along with an estimate of qualifying payments made.Receive recommended actions you can take to improve your eligibility for PSLF forgiveness. The PSLF Application There's only one PSLF form. It serves as both the PSLF application and the PSLF Employer Certification Form (ECF). You must submit this form to certify your employer and to find out if you’re on track for forgiveness, unless you're a military service member or a federal employee who's exempt. Take this step when you start your first qualifying job, and recertify once per year after that or when you change employers. Submit the PSLF application for forgiveness after you've made 120 qualifying payments. You must be working for a qualifying employer when you apply. Take these steps to submit the PSLF form: Fill out the form. Check for any errors. You’ll be asked to indicate whether you’re checking your payments or employer, or if you’re applying for forgiveness. Portions of your PSLF application must be completed and certified by your employer. Submit this form to FedLoan, the student loan servicer that handles PSLF loans, by online upload, mail, or fax. The servicer will verify your eligibility and notify you of any adjustments you should make to qualify for PSLF. The servicer also determines how many qualifying payments you’ve made, and how many you have to go. Note In September 2021, FedLoan announced that it would stop servicing federal student loans once its current contract ends. Loans serviced by FedLoan would be transferred to MOHELA between 2021 and 2022. The change should not impact student loan forgiveness or any other programs. If you've been working with FedLoan, keep an eye out for more info from FedLoan and MOHELA about this transfer. You’ll be notified and the remaining principal and interest is forgiven, tax-free when the servicer determines you’ve made 120 qualifying payments. The DOE's changes in 2021 also implemented a process to review PSLF applications that are denied due to errors, and to allow borrowers to have their determinations reconsidered. You can also look into the Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF) program if you're denied. It offers limited expanded forgiveness for borrowers whose payments were made through an ineligible repayment plan. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Department of Education. “Biden-Harris Administration Continues Fight for Student Debt Relief for Millions of Borrowers, Extends Student Loan Repayment Pause." Department of Education. “Biden-Harris Administration Announces Final Student Loan Pause Extension Through December 31 and Targeted Debt Cancellation To Smooth Transition to Repayment.” Federal Student Aid. "Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)." U.S. Department of Education. "U.S. Department of Education Announces Transformational Changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, Will Put Over 550,000 Public Service Workers Closer to Loan Forgiveness." VA.gov. "Student Loans: Public Service Loan Forgiveness Applications Must be Submitted by Oct. 31, 2022." Twitter. “@POTUS, Aug. 24, 2022 at 11:32 a.m.” U.S. Department of Education. "8 Common Public Service Loan Forgiveness Mistakes." Federal Student Aid. "FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA) to Stop Servicing Federal Student Loans."