6 Tips to Make Sure You Qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness


Did you know that the average District borrower owes more than $46,000 in federal student loans and 1 in 4 borrowers owe more than $80,000 on their loans? With soaring debt in DC and across the nation, it’s no wonder that many borrowers choose to participate in the U.S. Department of Education’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Through this program, borrowers who make 120 qualifying monthly payments (10 years) while working in the public service field can apply to have the balance of their loans forgiven.

There’s just one problem: Less than 1 percent of PSLF applicants have had their loans forgiven—a mere 96 people out of over 30,000 applicants. This eye-popping statistic clearly demonstrates that something needs to change. AG Racine has called on Education Secretary DeVos demanding answers about the program’s failure and urging her to address this issue.

If you are a student borrower working to qualify for PSLF, here are six tips that can help:

  1. Make sure your job meets the public service employment requirements. Qualifying employers include government organizations at the federal, state, and local level; any 501(c)3 organization; and AmeriCorps or PeaceCorps if you are a full-time volunteer.
  2. Submit your Employment Certification Form every year and when you change jobs. This form helps verify that you’re on the right track to completing your employment requirements. Make sure that there are no mistakes or omissions on the form to prevent it from being rejected.
  3. Enroll in one of the income-driven repayment (IDR) plans. IDR plans are required to qualify for PSLF and you must recertify your income every year.
  4. Consider consolidating your federal loans into federal Direct Loans. Only Direct Loans qualify for loan forgiveness under PSLF.
  5. Don’t miss a payment. Your 120 qualifying monthly payments do not have to be consecutive, but a payment will not qualify if it is 15 days past the due date.
  6. Browse the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s “Certify Your Service” resources. This campaign has step-by-step PSLF guides for teachers, servicemembers, first responders, and more.

OAG works to protect student borrowers by enforcing the law when predatory schools and lenders take advantage of borrowers and provides education resources to help borrowers understand their rights. Borrowers can access free resources to learn about repaying their student loans: oag.dc.gov/studentloans.