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Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

It's been a week, and I'm still in disbelief.


Things like this never happen to me, so part of me is still waiting for another letter to come and say, 'oops, this was a mistake, disregard our previous correspondence,' and I jumped into excitement prematurely. In any case, I'm rocking with joy on this one!

But I am extremely grateful that my letter came. I really wish student debt didn't even have to be a debt issue for people when they're choosing to go to school to pursue a better course for themselves; fast, forward 10, 15, or more years later, still having this cloud of debt follow you wherever you go. I'm hoping our elected government officials will, sooner than later, approve student loan cancellation for the millions of loan borrowers that sit in angst and uncertainty.


I literally debated back and forth whether or not even to share this news. I certainly didn't want to share as a means to boast, that’s just not me, and I didn't want anyone to get the wrong impression, but really just to share the steps and process for those like me that were not fully aware of this program that's accessible to you, so that you have the same opportunity, access, and knowledge to apply. Sharing is caring, so what I know, I want to share with you, and I'm happy to answer any questions you have! I've heard about student loan forgiveness programs, but I never really paid attention to them or took the time to learn more because I thought if it were that easy or accessible, more people and online sites would be talking about it and sharing their success stories, and this would be well-known information. ...or maybe it is, and I'm just out of the loop, but I don't know anyone who has had their loans forgiven and just about everyone I know still has student debt. I also thought there was a chance that most of these sites or forgiveness programs are probably scams, so I never bothered to do any further research or submit my personal information.


So how did it happen? How did I get started?

Well, last year, after my job's Town Hall event, I took a few minutes to scroll through my job's online Slack chat platform to read some of the posted Town Hall Q&As. One colleague posted a question about student loan forgiveness and another colleague responded by sharing the link and some more details about the program. The mere fact that this online conversation was brought up by colleagues and shared publicly on my "legit source" lent itself to my intrigue and trust to follow the bread crumbs.


In the chat, he mentioned the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program is available to anyone who works in public service – federal, state, local, tribal government employees, and non-profit employees and that the program will forgive student loans after ten years of service. Well, I've been working at my job for well over ten years, and I figured my employer may fall in their PSLF category bucket, so what did I have to lose?


The link below kickstarted my eager drive to want to learn more and just apply:


Step 1: Certify your employer

Search for employer eligibility here: https://studentaid.gov/pslf/employer-search/search-tool


I wasn't 100% sure if my employer qualified, but again, I had nothing to lose in inquiring about it. I clicked on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Employer Search link, where you can do a search to see if your employer qualifies for PSLF.


When inputting the search criteria, you'll need your employer's identification number (EIN), which you can find on your W-2 form, box 13b. Don't include the hyphen when you type it in.


If your employer is listed as eligible, then proceed to the PSLF Help Tool and start submitting your application.


Also, part of the requirement is that you have Direct Loans and have made 120 qualifying monthly payments. I knew I had been paying since I graduated back in 2010, but with the COVID student loan deferment for the last two years, I hadn't paid anything during this deferment period of time. So, I had no idea how many payments I had made, nor was I going to try and count them all, but don't worry. Once you submit your application, that's part of the process where they will count all of your payments and determine which and how many qualify.


Step 2: Fill out your application


This takes about 30 minutes or so to complete. Before you start, make sure you readily have on hand your W-2 form. You'll also have to create an account with Federal Student Aid. If you already have one, just log in.


It will go through a series of questions regarding your employment history, application details, and personal info. You'll also have three options to select from as to why you're filling out the form:

  1. I want to find out how many qualifying payments I have.

  2. I believe I qualify for loan forgiveness under PSLF or TEPSLF right now.

  3. If I believe I qualify right now, I want a forbearance while my application is being processed.

I chose both options 1 and 2.


Step 3: Submit your application to your employer to validate


Now the process for this step may vary from company to company in regards to who to send it to for official validation. However, I would highly recommend contacting your Human Resources (HR) department as a first starting point to validate your application and sign off.


In my organization, I went to our HR website, and they readily have a link to click for Verification Request. You're able to select PSLF from their drop-down menu and then upload the completed PSLF form. I submitted mine and got a response back the same day with my application signed and validated by HR.


Step 4: Submit the validated application form to Federal Student Aid

Once your application is completely filled out and signed, you have the option to mail it off to FedLoan Servicing, fax the form, or upload it through their online portal. I faxed mine off the same day it was signed and validated. Make sure to keep copies of your forms for your records before mailing them off if you choose that option.


Step 5: Now you wait...patience is key


Now the waiting game begins. I started this process in early December, Dec. 15, to be exact. The first letters of correspondence received just provided confirmation that they received my application and all required forms and to give them time to process.


Then I was notified how many payments I had completed and for which type of student loan.


Next came a letter stating that, unfortunately, I had not met all qualifying 120 payments. That was a disappointing sting reading that. They would continue to monitor my account and requested I continue making payments until I reach the qualifying limit. That was in June. They did emphasize in the letter that my account may be adjusted multiple times as they make changes for the limited PSLF waiver and other routine status changes, so be patient.


Unbeknownst to me about any kind of temporary loan forgiveness on non-qualifying loans (I didn't research what they meant by limited PSLF waiver), I received another letter on Aug. 1 stating that I had satisfied all obligations and no further payments were required for those loans!!! $18,485.55 of student debt GONE, balance $0.


Just this week, I logged back into my account on the Federal Student Aid site, and the top header bar stated I have no loans (just to pinch myself and make sure this really happened, LOL).



I truly, truly hope this helps someone! Having student loan debt cleared is a huge relief and a step towards walking in financial freedom.


Feel free to drop a comment or question below about this process. Note I am not a financial or student loan expert, but I can share details or tips from my own experience in this process.


Additional Resources:


NOTE:

During my entire process, Fedloan Servicing was the loan servicer who handled PSLF. That's where I sent all my forms and received all correspondence from. However, since they are no longer a loan servicer for Federal loans, MOHELA has taken over the PSLF-eligible loans.


MOHELA PSLF Application - https://www.mohela.com/pslf

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