On October 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced a new limited waiver opportunity for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. For a limited time, borrowers may receive credit for past payments that would not otherwise qualify for PSLF.
Below is information about the steps you may need to take relating to the PSLF limited waiver opportunity.
What is the PSLF Limited Waiver Opportunity? The limited waiver opportunity relaxes many requirements of the PSLF Program. Under the limited waiver, prior payments made on federal student loans will count as qualifying payments towards PSLF, regardless of loan type, repayment plan, or whether the payments were made in full or on time. All you need is qualifying employment after October 1, 2007—the start date of the PSLF Program. Even if you have not yet completed ten years of public service, or made ten years of payments, you can receive a review and potential revision of your qualifying payment count under the relaxed requirements of the limited waiver. However, the limited waiver is not available for Parent PLUS loans.
What Steps Do I Need to Take? You may need to consolidate certain federal loan types into the Direct Loan Program and/or submit employment certifications by October 31, 2022 to secure a review under the PSLF limited waiver opportunity. To find out which of these steps you need to take, you first need to identify your federal loan types. We also encourage you to verify that your employment qualifies for PSLF.
- Identify your Federal Loan Types. Federal loan borrowers can have several different types of loans, including Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loans (FFELs), and Perkins Loans. Here’s how to see what types of loans you have:
- Log into your Federal Student Aid (FSA) Account. If you haven’t already set up an FSA ID, you will need to create one.
- Once logged in to your FSA Account, click “View Details.”
- In the “Loan Breakdown” section, you will see a list of your loans (even if you paid the loan off or consolidated it into a new loan).
- For each servicer with an active loan, click “View Loans.” Then click the “View Loan Details” arrow next to each loan to display the loan type. Direct Loans begin with the word “Direct.” Federal Family Education Loans start with “FFEL,” and Perkins Loans include the word “Perkins” in the name.
- Confirm that you have Qualifying Full-Time Employment. Verify that your employer(s) qualifies for PSLF by completing Step 1 in the U.S. Department of Education’s PSLF Help Tool. Please note that only employment designated as full-time by your employer counts towards PSLF. Borrowers who had more than one qualifying part-time job at the same time must have worked a combined average of at least 30 hours per week.
- Consolidate into the Direct Loan Program. If you have federal loans that are not Direct Loans (e.g., FFEL or Perkins Loans), you need to consolidate those loans into the Direct Loan Program by October 31, 2022.
- Ensure your Employment Certifications are Up to Date. If you do not have approved employment certifications on file with your servicer for all your qualifying employment periods, you should file a PSLF Form using the PSLF Help Tool for each uncertified period by October 31, 2022. You only need to certify employment after October 1, 2007—the start date of the PSLF Program. If you are not sure whether you have certifications on file for all your qualifying employment periods, we recommend recertifying the periods in question.
Below are tips on avoiding employment certification gaps and problems.
- If you do not currently have any Direct Loans, you need to consolidate your loans into the Direct Loan Program before submitting a PSLF Form to certify your employment—otherwise your employment certification could be rejected. After consolidating, you must submit a PSLF Form for any qualifying employment that occurred after October 1, 2007.
- If you previously consolidated some or all of your federal loans into the Direct Loan Program, the employment certifications you submitted after the consolidation might not include periods that predated the consolidation. We recommend filing a PSLF Form to certify your employment for the period that predated the consolidation.
- If you previously submitted an employment certification while you had only non-PSLF-qualifying loan types (e.g., while you had only FFEL or Perkins loans), you need to recertify this employment—even if you later consolidated into the Direct Loan Program.
What if I currently only have Direct Loans and my Employment Certifications are Up to Date? If (1) you currently only have Direct Loans and (2) you have employment certifications on file with your servicer for all periods of qualifying employment after October 1, 2007, you do not need to take further action to receive a full review of your qualifying payment count under the PSLF limited waiver opportunity.
Avoid Scams. Please beware of companies that charge fees for helping federal loan borrowers. There is nothing these companies can do for you that you can’t do on your own for free. You do not need to pay a fee to receive a review under the PSLF limited waiver opportunity. You can learn about how to spot a student loan “debt relief” scam on the U.S. Department of Education’s website.
You can learn more about the PSLF limited waiver opportunity and get answers to Frequently Asked Questions on the U.S. Department of Education’s website.