If you work in public service, you already know that feeling of self-fulfillment that comes from helping others, but you might not realize a potential added benefit of your public service work: federal student loan forgiveness.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer. I know what you’re thinking … “qualifying” is used a lot of times in that sentence. How would you possibly know if you qualify? You don’t have to guess; there’s an easy way to determine your eligibility for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
Submit an Employment Certification Form (sometimes called an ECF).
1. What’s an ECF and why should I submit it?
An ECF is a form that you can complete and submit to keep track of your progress toward loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. It requires you to provide some basic information about you (the borrower) and your employer. Both you and your employer are required to certify that the information on your ECF is true, complete, and correct. Once you submit your form, the PSLF servicer will determine if your loans are eligible for PSLF and if your employer qualifies. Qualifying public service employment can include government work, teaching in a public school, or working at a non-profit organization.
I bet many of you have seen ads on Facebook that sound something like this:
“Want Student Loan Forgiveness in Two Weeks? CALL NOW!”
“Apply for Obama Loan Forgiveness in 5 minutes!”
Usually, if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. There are countless ads online from companies offering to help you manage your student loan debt…for a fee, of course. While the U.S. Department of Education (ED) does offer some legitimate student loan forgiveness programs and ways to lower your student loan payments, they are all free to apply for. Don’t pay for help when you can get help for free!
If you’re a federal student loan borrower, ED provides free assistance to help:
Everyone wants their student loans forgiven. The perception is that very few qualify. But did you know that there is one broad, employment-based forgiveness program for federal student loans? Let me break down some key points of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) to help you figure out if you could qualify.
[ 1 ] Work for a government or non-profit organization
Qualifying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness is not about your job, it’s about who your employer is. In order to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, you must work for a “public service” employer. What does that mean? Everyone has a different definition.
Teachers, firefighters, police officers, government employees, military—day in and day out these public servants work tirelessly for citizens across the country. To celebrate Public Service Recognition Week (May 6th-12th) and the positive impact these individuals’ work has on our lives, we are dedicating this month’s #AskFAFSA Office Hours to our nation’s public servants.
Were you aware of these government-sponsored programs that help current and future public servants fund their higher education?
Income Based Repayment: Income-Based Repayment (IBR) is a repayment plan for the major types of federal student loans that caps your required monthly payment at an amount intended to be affordable based on your income and family size. Note: Income-based repayment is not just for public servants. Have federal student loans? Find out if you qualify: http://1.usa.gov/GR2V2X
TEACH Grant: The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program provides grants of up to $4,000 per year to students who intend to teach in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families.
Post 9/11 GI Bill: The Post-9/11 GI Bill is an education benefit program paid by the Department of Veterans Affairs to those who served in the military on or after September 10, 2001. You can receive tuition and fee payments, a monthly housing allowance, and a books and supplies stipend of up to $1000 per year. Visit www.gibill.va.gov to learn more.
In an effort to help you better understand how to take advantage of these programs, on Friday, May 11th at 1pm ET, the U.S. Department of Education and our special guests, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Partnership for Public Service, will answering your questions live from the @FAFSA Twitter account.
Here’s how it works:
Have questions about the above programs? You can start submitting your questions on Twitter today. Be sure to include the #AskFAFSA hashtag in your tweets. We’ll continue to take questions throughout the week and during the live event.
On May 11th at 1pm ET, follow @FAFSA or the #AskFAFSA hashtag on Twitter to join the conversation. The Department of Veterans Affairs, The Partnership for Public Service and the @FAFSA team will be answering your questions live.
Can’t make the live session? A summary of #AskFAFSA Office Hours, including the full Q&A, will be posted on Storify and the ED.gov blog following the event.
Public servants—Thank you for working diligently on our behalf. We hope you will join us on May 11th to learn about some of the programs that are available to help you fund your education.