The first thing people say when they find out where I work: “Can you delete my student loans for me?” If only I had that power. Just like many of you, I am a student loan borrower. Each month, my federal student loan servicer, withdraws my $381.35 student loan payment from my bank account and I still cringe every time. (Do you know how many trips I could take with that money?) Point is, I understand what you’re going through.
Almost time to start paying back your student loans? Contrary to popular belief, your student loan payments don’t have to stop you from living your life. You just have to weigh your options and find a strategy that works within your budget. Here are some steps to get you started.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a program that could eliminate some of your federal student loan debt if you meet all the requirements. This program was created to benefit individuals whose debt would be unaffordable without loan payments tied to income because they are working in lower-paying, but vitally important public sector jobs such government service or non-profit work.
Student loans, interest payments, and taxes: three things that have scared many people for years now. Read on to learn how these things can benefit you.
If you made federal student loan payments in 2018, you may be eligible to deduct a portion of the interest paid on your 2018 federal tax return. This is known as a student loan interest deduction. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to make the money you’ve paid work for you! Below are some questions and answers to help you learn more about reporting student loan interest payments from IRS Form 1098-E on your 2018 taxes and potentially get this deduction.
You Don’t Have to Pay for Help with Your Student Loans!
You’re at home about to start cooking (or microwaving, no judgment here) dinner when you get a phone call from an unknown number. The person on the other end of the line is promising to help you pay off all of your student loans. All they’re asking for is some of your personal information and an upfront fee. It sounds too good to be true, right? It probably is.
Even if you haven’t gotten a phone call exactly like that, you have probably seen the countless ads on social media offering to help you manage your student loan debt. 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 through your official loan servicer. Don’t pay for help when you can get help for free!
Here are some signs that you’re talking to a student loan debt relief company instead of ED:
Are you a federal employee impacted by the partial government shutdown? Here are some options to manage your student loans while you are furloughed or not receiving pay.
1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program
Forgives the remaining balance on your Federal Direct Loans after 120 qualifying payments (10 years).
View complete program details at StudentAid.gov/publicservice.
Here are some highlights:
- This program has the broadest employment qualification requirements of the federal programs listed—it doesn’t require that you teach at a low-income a public school, or even be a teacher. Most full-time public and private elementary and secondary school teachers will meet the employment requirements.
- You must have Direct Loans. If you have other types of federal loans, like FFEL or Perkins Loans, you must consolidate in order for those loans to qualify. To check which types of loans you have, log in to StudentAid.gov.
- You should repay your loans on an income-driven repayment plan if you want to get the most value out of the program. You can apply for an income-driven repayment plan on StudentLoans.gov.
- In order for payments to count toward the 120 needed to get forgiveness, they need to be full payments, made no more than 15 days late, and made after October 1, 2007.
- Loan amounts forgiven under PSLF are NOT considered taxable by the IRS.
To confirm whether you qualify for the program, submit this form ASAP.
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.
If you’re a parent of a dependent undergraduate student or if you’re someone planning to attend graduate school, you’ve probably heard of the PLUS loan. The Direct PLUS Loan is a federal loan program that’s available specifically for these two groups of people to help cover the remaining cost of attending school after all other financial aid has been applied. Below we’ll explain the requirements, application process, and some tips if you’re considering getting a PLUS loan.
Requirements to Receive a PLUS Loan
No Adverse Credit History
A credit history is a summary of your financial strength, including your history of paying bills and your ability to repay future loans. To qualify for a PLUS loan, you cannot have an adverse credit history.
Your child is going to college or career school—that’s great! But you may have questions about how to pay for it. If your child hasn’t completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), ask your child to complete it today. Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free and quick, and it gives your child access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school, including loans YOU can receive.
After applying for financial aid, your child may receive an aid offer from the school that includes grants, federal work-study, scholarships, school and state aid, and federal student loans. Those federal loans may include a Direct PLUS Loan that you can get as a parent borrower. PLUS loans are an excellent option if you need money to pay your child’s education expenses, but you’ll want to make sure you understand the loan terms before you get one. Once you’ve taken out a PLUS loan, you must repay it, even if your child doesn’t complete their degree, can’t find a job related to their program of study, or if you or your child are unhappy with the education you paid for with your loan.
If you’re having difficulty repaying your federal student loans, then you might want to consider a deferment or forbearance. These two temporary solutions allow you to stop making or, in some instances, to lower your monthly federal student loan payment. While both can be helpful solutions if you’re experiencing temporary hardship, they aren’t great long-term solutions because they can be costly, and if you aren’t careful, your loan balance could be higher when your deferment or forbearance period ends.
Before you apply, here’s some information that can help you decide if deferment or forbearance is the best option for you.
1. Should I choose a deferment or forbearance?
The two main differences between deferment and forbearance are
- the situations under which you may qualify, and
- whether or not you’ll be charged interest when you’re not making payments.
Most borrowers first apply for a deferment because it’s usually the best option and then if they aren’t eligible for it, their loan servicer (the organization that manages your student loan) may grant a forbearance.