What You Need To Know About Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Currently, $290.4 million of student loan debt has been forgiven through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and something to think about as you start your career in nurse anesthesia. 

At first glance, you might think well this is great that so much debt has been forgiven. But so far to date, only 2.41% of processed applications for PSLF have been approved since the program began. So, there is still $115.9 billion total student loan debt eligible to be forgiven under this federal program. 

Unfortunately, as you see the huge amount still eligible for student loan debt forgiveness under the PSLF program tells us one thing. The chances of your application being approved is likely slim. So, the big question is why the low approval rate for PSLF applicants? 

Of course there are many reasons but one that is quite avoidable is over 59% of applicants are denied due to making too few qualifying payments. And another 29% rejected are due to missing information or basically not following directions. While I’m definitely not a PSLF expert, it looks like the PSLF program is actually working if you follow the guidelines. 

So, I just want to pass on what I’ve learned about the PSLF and how it works if you are thinking about going this route once you graduate from CRNA school. So what is the PSLF exactly?

What is the PSLF program? 

The PSLF is a federal program created in 2007, was designed to encourage students to enter public service type jobs and get out of paying their federal student loan debt after 10 years of service. The program forgives the remaining balance on your direct federal loans after a certain number of qualifying payments have been made.

How to qualify for PSLF?

In order to qualify for the PSLF you must:

  • Work full-time for a government agency or certain types of non profit  organizations or at least 30 hours per week
  • Have federal Direct loans (or loans consolidated into a Direct loan)
  • Make qualifying payments on your loans using a the required repayment options 

What jobs qualify for PSLF?

The specific type of job you do at your place of employment does not matter when it comes to qualifying employment for the PSLF Program. Rather, it’s about who your employer is. The only type of organizations that qualifies one for the PSLF program are: 
  • U.S. Federal, state, local, or tribal government organizations including the U.S. military
  • Tax exempt not-for-profit 501 (c) organizations 

What loans can be forgiven for PSLF?

Here is a breakdown of which eligible loans can be forgiveness. They are federal Direct Stafford loans, federal direct plus loans, and federal direct consolidation loans. If the Perkins loans is included in the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan it is eligible for public service loan forgiveness. If not, it does not qualify. 

What repayment options qualify for PSLF?

In addition to the above qualifiers for the PSLF program, you must also be on one of the four “Income-Driven Repayment” plans, consisting of Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), or Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) plans. All these repayment plans calculate your monthly loan payments based on the borrower’s adjusted gross income (AGI).

Therefore, rather than just paying a fixed payment determined by your loan term, balance, and interest rate, the payment amount will adjust according to your AGI.

Who can certify your employment records? 

The best way to track your progress towards qualifying for the PSLF is by submitting the PSLF form annually or whenever you change employers. This will make applying for forgiveness after 10 years of  public service easier. 

An authorized official who has access to your employment or service records by your employer can certify your employment. This would likely be someone form your your employer’s human resources department, but it could also be your manager or someone with authority to certify your employment.

How to apply for public service loan forgiveness? 

After you’ve made 120 qualifying payments then you submit your PSLF application certification form to apply for forgiveness. This form also serves as the PSLF Employer Certification Form (ECF). And you must be working for a qualified employer when submitting your application.  Here is a PSLF Help Tool to use when you start working towards submitting the PSLF certification form.

Bottom Line 

PSLF can be a great option for those who plan to work in any public sector and who qualify. But, many applicants will not qualify for the reasons listed above. For those who don’t it may be better to just refinance your student loans at a later date to save money on interest or for a lower payment. 

Of course, the first step is to gather as much information as possible and do what’s best for you. Hopefully, this information is a jumpstart to helping you do just that. Either way becoming a CRNA is a great investment if you don’t do either. 

P.S. Grab your FREE guide here to get all the information you need to become a CRNA. 

Disclaimer: This fact sheet provides a summary of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and is intended as general information only.

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