Public Service Loan Forgiveness Calculator
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What is PSLF and how does it work?
The Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program is available to borrowers who are working full time for a qualifying employer. The program forgives the remaining balance on borrowers’ Direct Loans after making 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan.
PSLF eligibility requirements
Borrowers must work full time for a United States federal, local or tribal government or nonprofit organization, have Direct Loans (or have consolidated their federal student loans into a Direct Loan), repaid their loans under an income-driven repayment plan and made 120 qualifying payments to be eligible for PSLF.
PSLF Employment Certification Form
Submit a Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Employment Certification Form (ECF) every year as you work toward making 120 qualifying payments. This task is particularly important when changing employers to make sure you’re on the right track toward PSLF eligibility. The information on the form is used to determine whether your payments meet the qualification criteria.
An official who has access to your employment or service records — and who your employer authorized — can certify your employment. This person is usually someone from your employer’s human resources department, but it could also be your direct supervisor or someone else authorized to certify your employment.
PSLF application process
Because you have to make 120 qualifying monthly payments, it may take 10 years of repayment before you’re eligible for PSLF. Once you’ve made 120 qualifying payments, however, you need to complete and submit the Public Student Loan Forgiveness: Application for Forgiveness.
You can complete your PSLF application online with the Department of Education’s PSLF Help Tool. Just remember that you don’t automatically receive PSLF. You have to submit the application and get approved first.
If you haven’t submitted the Employment Certification Form every year leading up to your PSLF application, you’ll need to provide proof that you made 120 qualifying payments. It’s best to submit these certification forms annually, as you go along, rather than going through the painstaking process of proving years’ worth of payments at the end.
When you submit your ECF, your student loans transfer to the PSLF servicer, who determines how many qualifying payments you’ve already made. The servicer will send you an official letter with the amount of made payments on record.
The number will be updated after you submit a new ECF or PSLF application that notes a new period of qualifying employment. You can also see your total amount of qualifying payments by logging into your account with the PSLF servicer and viewing your loan details.
How PSLF can work in your favor
Remember, you have to repay your loans under an income-driven repayment plan to be eligible for PSLF. Four popular income-driven repayment plans are Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE). Almost anyone with federal student loans can apply for these plans, regardless of their employer.
There’s a big difference between repaying a loan on an IDR plan working toward PSLF and one that isn’t: the length of the loan. You could potentially complete the 120 required qualifying payments to be eligible for PSLF in as little as 10 years. By comparison, for example, the Standard Repayment Plan can take 10 to 30 years. Plus, if you’re on an IBR plan and don’t earn a high salary, your payment will be on the lower side during the life of the loan. If you begin to earn more money, you can stay in the PSLF program and use the cap on PAYE or IBR so you’ll still have a loan balance to forgive.
1. What is considered a government employer for the PSLF program?
Any U.S. federal, state, local or tribal government agency falls under the government employer category. These employers include the U.S. military, pubic elementary and secondary schools, public colleges and universities, public child and family service agencies and special government districts.
2. What non-profit organizations are qualified employers for the PSLF program?
Eligible non-profits include:
- Organizations tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
- Organizations that are not tax-exempt under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, but provides a qualifying service
3. Does my income determine my eligibility for PSLF?
There’s no income requirement for PSLF. However, your monthly payment amount under qualifying IDR repayment plans is based on your income. That means your income level during your time as a public service employee could determine whether you have a loan balance to be forgiven after you make the 120 qualifying payments.
4. Do my Direct Loans have to be made consecutively to qualify for PSLF?
No. However, only payments made while you’re working full time for a qualifying employer will count toward your 120 payments. So, if you worked for a private, non-qualifying company at any point during the course of repaying your loan, any student loan payments you made during that time would not count toward the 120 you need to get PSLF. Once you’re employed by a qualifying organization again, however, your student loan payments will start to count toward your 120. Don’t worry — any payments you made before you worked for a private entity still count. You don’t have to start over from scratch.
5. What happens if my PSFL application is approved? What if it’s denied?
If your PSLF application is approved, you’ll be notified that the rest of your eligible Direct Loan balance is forgiven—including outstanding interest and principal. Any payments made after your 120th qualifying payment will be refunded to you.
In the event your PSFL application is declined, you’ll get a notification along with the reasons you were deemed ineligible. You’ll have to keep making loan payments based on your Master Promissory Note terms.
6. Can I get PSLF if I work for more than one employer over the course of 10 years?
Yes, but don’t forget you have to submit an ECF every time you change employers to prove your full-time employment with a qualifying employer as you made your 120 payments.