How to Apply for a Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver

More public servants – including military members – can qualify for loan forgiveness in 2022, thanks to a temporary public service loan forgiveness expansion.
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public service loan forgiveness waiver

The Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program is a program that promises to provide debt relief for teachers, nurses, firefighters, police officers, military service members and other public servants. 

On paper it looks great, but in practice, many have found that it’s not that simple.  

2.1% of all processed applications since PSLF inception have been approved according to the Education Data Initiative. Applicants have had difficulty getting approved because of complicated eligibility requirements and loan servicing errors.

Jerry Zeigler
Jerry Zeigler, MBA, AFC®, EA is a tax professional, Enrolled Agent and personal financial counselor. He is the owner of JZ Financial Management and a member of the Better Financial Counseling Network.

Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness

If your application was rejected, you may be eligible for a PSLF Limited Waiver. 

For a limited time, the PSLF Limited Waiver Opportunity can provide borrowers with credit for payments on loans that previously did not qualify for PSLF. 

Borrowers have until Oct. 31, 2022 to take action. This is part of the Covid-19 assistance efforts provided through the CARES Act and subsequent extensions. 

What is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program?

The PSLF Program forgives any additional qualifying federal student loan debt for individuals who have completed at least 10 years of qualifying public service AND 10 years of qualifying payments. 

The goal is to enable and encourage these borrowers to stay in public service and fill a public need by reducing the burden of their student loan debt. 

Am I Eligible for the PSLF Program?

There are five regular requirements for the PSLF Program:

  1. Employment with a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or a qualifying not-for-profit organization. Military service is considered qualified federal employment. 
  2. Work full time or at least 30 hours a week for that organization, whichever is greater.
  3. Have direct loans or consolidate other federal student loans into a direct loan
  4. Repay your loans under an income driven repayment (IDR) plan.
  5. Make 120 Qualifying Payments. 

What is the PSLF Limited Waiver Opportunity?

Under the limited waiver, any prior payments you’ve made count as a qualifying payment regardless of the loan type, repayment plan, or whether the payment was made in full or on time. 

This waiver applies if you have direct loans, or if you have consolidated into the Direct Loan Program by Oct. 31, 2022

You should apply for the limited waiver even if your PSLF application has been rejected in the past.

PSLF Limited Waiver Opportunity Requirements?

If you qualify for PSLF, then you’ll definitely qualify for the PSLF limited waiver. But, the waiver expands eligibility to more borrowers who may not have previously qualified for PSLF.  

The PSLF limited waiver counts payments under any federal plan, not just under IDRs.

Also, you don’t have to reset the clock. 

Under the PSLF limited waiver, past ineligible loan payments can be counted. The most important eligibility requirement is to apply by Oct. 31, 2022. 

How do I know for certain that my payments are being counted?

This is where some borrowers ran into trouble. They thought they were on track for loan forgiveness, but they weren’t. 

To ensure you are on track for loan forgiveness you should submit a PSLF Form annually and anytime you change employers. The PSLF Employment Certification Form and the PSLF
Application Form are now combined into one form.

How Filling Out a PSLF Employment Certification Can Help You

  1. The PSLF Form helps you track your payments. You’ll be certain how many more qualifying payments that you need to make.
  2. When you file the PSLF Employment Certification form you will know for certain that your employment has been counted for that year or partial year. You won’t have to track down employers years later.
  3. It will prompt you to check that your studentaid.gov account is up to date and to review your status at least annually. If there are important changes to the programs that are available, you’ll be less likely to miss them. 

You should use the PSLF Help Tool to navigate the process and get guidance on qualifications and required forms. Keeping your studentaid.gov and loan servicer accounts up to date can also help you avoid snags. 

Remember to print out and keep copies of all records!

How to Apply for the PSLF Limited Waiver Opportunity

  • First, Verify what kind of loans you have in your loan types in your studentaid.gov account. Federal Direct Loans qualify for the waiver, but if you have other federal student loan types you may still apply for the waiver, after completing step 3. (Exception: Parent Plus loans do not qualify for the waiver)
  • Next, use the PSLF Help Tool to verify eligible employment.
  • If you have any loans that are NOT Direct Loans, request a Direct Loan consolidation by Oct. 31, 2022. If you have any Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) or any Perkins Loans,they will have either FFEL or Perkins in the name, the loans must all be combined into a Direct Consolidation Loan. If possible, do this sooner, rather than later. A direct consolidation loan can take just a few weeks, but they have been known to take months. 
  • Submit a  PSLF Form using the  PSLF Help Tool by Oct. 31, 2022.

The PSLF Limited Waiver Opportunity can help service members and other public servants rid themselves of debt. But, you have to take action before the Oct. 2022 deadline. If you aren’t familiar with the PSLF employment certification form, then this is the time to get familiar, especially if you have had multiple qualifying places of employment. More details and Frequently Asked Questions can be found with the Department of Education and with studentaid.gov.

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About Jerry Zeigler

Jerry Zeigler is an Accredited Financial Counselor® and an Enrolled Agent who represents taxpayers before the IRS. Zeigler is a 20 year U.S. Navy submarine veteran and military spouse – so he has experienced deployments from both the homefront and the battlefront. He holds an MBA, is a member of the Better Financial Counseling Network and owns JZ Financial Management, where he provides financial counseling, coaching and education, tax return preparation and tax planning services.

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