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Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Frequently Asked Questions

ALERT: We are currently updating this site to include FAQs about the IDR Account Adjustment. For more information about the IDR Account Adjustment in the meantime, visit: https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/idr-account-adjustment#frequently-asked-questions

On October 31, 2022, the Education Department closed the PSLF Waiver of certain PSLF program requirements to address long-standing issues with the program—but the Department has extended most of the benefits and protections of the waiver through another program called Income-Driven Repayment (IDR).

  • How can I get involved to push for student debt cancellation?
    Send a message to the president calling on him to cancel student debt as quickly as possible in light of the Supreme Court decision.
  • What did the Supreme Court decide?
    The United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in favor of right-wing state officials in Biden v. Nebraska, formally blocking President Biden’s plan to use emergency powers to cancel up to $20,000 for student loan borrowers in the wake of the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Does the Supreme Court decision affect the date that student loan payments will resume?
    No. In 2023, Congress passed legislation to raise the federal debt limit that would force President Biden to restart student loan payments later this year. As of right now, interest is set to restart in September and borrowers should be prepared to start receiving bills in October 2023.
  • Does the SCOTUS decision affect my eligibility for PSLF or cancellation under the IDR Account Adjustment?
    No. This ruling only affects the student debt relief program. Student loan borrowers can still apply and receive student debt cancellation through Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Income-Driven Repayment, and other existing student debt cancellation programs.
  • When will the new plan that President Biden announced the day of the Supreme Court decision go into effect?
    President Biden announced that he will create a new plan to cancel student debt through a process called Negotiated Rulemaking, which will take a considerable amount of time. The time frame is not yet set in stone, but the Biden Administration has said they hope to complete it in the coming months.
  • Is the application live?
    No. The Biden Administration is not accepting new applications to the student debt relief program it announced in August 2022.
  • Do I have to pay federal or state taxes on this?
    Through 2025, there is no federal tax liability for cancelled student loan debt. Whether cancelled student loan debt is taxed as income at the state level will vary state by state. You should consult a tax expert if you have questions about taxes in your state.
  • Am I eligible for a refund if I made voluntary payments during the pandemic
    Yes. You can call your servicer and request a refund for those payments, even if you have paid off the loan, or you will automatically receive a refund of your payments during the payment pause if: you successfully apply for and receive debt relief under the Administration’s debt relief plan, AND your voluntary payments during the payment pause brought your balance below the maximum debt relief amount you’re eligible to receive but did not pay off your loan in full. For example, if you’re a borrower eligible for $10,000 in relief; had a balance of $10,500 prior to March 13, 2020; and made $1,000 in payments since then—bringing your balance to $9,500 at the time of discharge—the Department will discharge your $9,500 balance, and you’ll receive a $500 refund. Other borrowers can still receive refunds on voluntary payments made after March 13, 2020 by contacting their servicer. It’s important to note that these refunded payments will increase your loan balance and your monthly payments. If you expect to have a balance after discharge is applied and wish to request a refund, you can do so by contacting your servicer until Dec. 31, 2023. Borrowers who expect to receive $10,000 or $20,000 in cancellation should consider requesting payments you have made since March 2020 up to those amounts, and should consult a financial counselor if they have additional questions. If you consolidated your loan after March 13, 2020, refunds aren’t available for any voluntary payments made prior to the consolidation. Additionally, any final payments made when refinancing to a private student loan is not eligible for a refund. Refund requests can only be made by you and refunded to you, even if someone else made a payment on your loan (such as an employer or student loan refinancing company). If a third party made payments on your behalf, you are responsible for coordinating refunds to the third party.
  • If I have multiple loans, how will the cancellation be applied to my loans?
    For borrowers with multiple loans, the Department of Education has announced they will apply the relief in the following order: Defaulted ED-held loans Defaulted commercial FFEL Program loans Non-defaulted Direct Loan Program loans and FFEL Program loans held by ED Perkins Loans held by ED If you have multiple loans in a program type (e.g., multiple Direct Loan Program loans), the Department will apply the relief in the following order: Apply relief to loans with the highest statutory interest rate. If interest rates are the same, apply to unsubsidized loans prior to subsidized loans. If interest rate and subsidy status are the same, apply to the most recent loan. If interest rate, subsidy status, and disbursement date are the same, apply to the loan with the lowest combined principal and interest balance.
  • Does the cancellation amount apply to principal + interest?
    The Department will apply cancellation to outstanding interest first and then to principal.
  • If I have multiple loans, can I request which one(s) receive cancellation?
    The Department of Education will apply cancellation as described in the answer above, even if borrowers request otherwise.
  • What if my loan balance is less than the maximum amount of debt cancellation?
    The Department of Education will provide the relief amount equal to your full loan balance. For example, if your loan balance is $5,000 and you’re eligible for $10,000 in debt relief, you will receive $5,000 in relief. However, if you made loan payments during the payment pause (payments made after March 13, 2020) on these same loans, you will automatically receive a refund for some of the payments you made (up to the amount of relief). If you made payments during the payment pause and your current balance is higher than the amount of debt relief you receive, you wont get an automatic refund because your relief will only be applied to your outstanding balance. Instead, you will need to reach out to your servicer to request a refund for voluntary payments made. For more information, refer to the question above.
  • How will this impact my credit score?
    It is not yet known how the U.S. Department of Education plans to report this cancellation to the credit bureaus.
  • Am I eligible for cancellation if my loans are in default?
    Yes, defaulted loans are eligible for debt relief. If you have a remaining balance on your defaulted loan(s) after relief is applied, you will be eligible to take advantage of the Fresh Start Initiative.
  • If I consolidated my loans, what disbursement date is considered?
    Commercially-held FFELP loans and Perkins loans held by institutions are no longer able to be consolidated to access student debt cancellation. If one of these loans was consolidated prior to September 29, 2022, they are eligible for student debt cancellation.
  • Is there a loan disbursement cutoff date for which loans qualify for forgiveness?
    All loans disbursed through June 30, 2022, are eligible for forgiveness.
  • What types of loans are eligible?
    The following types of federal student loans with an outstanding balance as of June 30, 2022, are eligible for relief: William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program loans Subsidized loans Unsubsidized loans Parent PLUS loans Graduate PLUS loans Consolidation loans, as long as all of the underlying loans that were consolidated were first disbursed on or before June 30, 2022* Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans held by ED or in default at a guaranty agency Federal Perkins Loan Program loans held by ED Defaulted loans (includes ED-held or commercially serviced Subsidized Stafford, Unsubsidized Stafford, parent PLUS, and graduate PLUS; and Perkins loans held by ED) In short, if your loans benefited from the pause on payments since March 2020, they are likely covered by this announcement. *Commercially-held FFELP loans and Perkins loans held by institutions are no longer able to be consolidated to access student debt cancellation. If one of these loans was consolidated prior to September 29, 2022, they are eligible for student debt cancellation.
  • Does this apply if your loans are in in-school deferment?
    Yes, all loans disbursed through June 30, 2022 are eligible for forgiveness.
  • Does this apply to private student loans?
    No. This announcement does not apply to private student loans, including private student loans that were used to refinance a federal student loan.
  • Where can borrowers find the Department’s information about cancellation?
    For information on cancellation from the Department of Education, visit https://studentaid.gov/debt-relief-announcement/.
  • I still have questions, who can I ask?
    Many states have Student Loan Ombudspersons, a state employee who can help residents with issues related to their student loans and student loan servicers. You can find a list of states with ombudspersons and their contact information here: https://protectborrowers.org/state-based-student-loan-ombudsmen/ There are limited legal resources to assist student loan borrowers, but some options do exist. A list of legal resources can be found here: https://www.studentloanborrowerassistance.org/resources/referral-resource/legal-resources/
  • Where can borrowers go if they need help with their loans?
    The U.S. Department of Education’s website, www.StudentAid.gov, is always the main portal for borrowers’ federal student loans. Once logged in, you can view all of their federal loans, and can access information about and applications for different repayment plans or cancellation programs. You can also visit https://studentaid.gov/debt-relief-announcement/ for more detailed information on the cancellation announcement. For information about Public Service Loan Forgiveness, see here.
  • How do I know if I have a Joint Consolidation Loan (often referred to as “spousal consolidation loans”)?
    Very few borrowers have Spousal Consolidation Loans. Between 1993 and July 1, 2006, the law allowed married borrowers to combine their individual federal student loans into a single joint Direct Consolidation Loan or joint Federal Consolidation Loan. In 2006, a law was passed to end this practice. “Joint consolidations loans” will not be named this way in your Aid Summary. If you believe you have this loan type, you should confirm with your loan servicer.
  • Are Joint Consolidation Loans eligible for PSLF Credit through the IDR Account Adjustment?
    Yes, but you will have to take some specific steps to ensure you receive the benefits of the IDR Account Adjustment. On October 11, 2022, the President signed the “Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act,” to permit borrowers to separate joint consolidation loans. As of today, the Department of Education has not yet produced a form to begin the separation process or begun to implement this new law. Even though the Department hasn’t begun to implement this new law, they have established a specific—though complicated—process for borrowers with these loans to let the Department know they want to take advantage of the IDR Account Adjustment. Once the Department implements the changes to separate joint consolidation loans, you will need to take additional steps and then your account will be adjusted to reflect any PSLF credits.
  • I am a Joint Consolidation Loan borrower, what steps do I need to take to become eligible for PSLF Credit under the IDR Account Adjustment?
    Here are the two steps Joint Consolidation Loan borrowers must take to access PSLF Credit through the IDR Account Adjustment: 1. Use the PSLF Help Tool to generate the forms that will need to be signed by your employer(s). If your employer is eligible and you are able to generate a PSLF form, print and sign your form, and then have your employer(s) sign it. Do not send your PSLF form to the servicer, MOHELA, and instead proceed to Step 2. If your employer’s status is listed as “likely ineligible/undetermined,” “ineligible,” or “not found,” but you believe your employer is eligible and you elect to proceed through the PSLF Help Tool, you will be able to complete all the steps of the tool and request a review of your employer. However, you will not be able to print your form for signature or submission while the review is pending. This is fine, and you should proceed with Step 2. 2. Submit a Reconsideration Request. A specific process has been set up for borrowers with these loan types to be reviewed as a result of the new law. This process requires you to login to your FSA Account, submit a reconsideration request, and attach your signed PSLF form. If your employer was eligible and you were able to generate a PSLF form, print, sign, and have your employer(s) sign your form, you should then upload the PDF of your PSLF form as an attachment to the reconsideration request submission and put in the description: “I am a borrower impacted by the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act.” If you are waiting for ED to complete its review of your employer’s eligibility, submit a reconsideration request and include in the description, “I am a borrower impacted by the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act. I used the PSLF Help Tool and I’m waiting on the review of my employer.”
  • What documentation will I need to submit my application for relief?
    You will not be required to submit documentation as part of your application for loan cancellation. The only information required is: First, middle initial, and last name Social Security Number Date of Birth Contact information Self attestation verifying your income information For those applying for cancellation using the paper application, the information email and telephone will be optional.
  • Will I be notified once my application is approved?
    Yes. Once the Department has confirmed your eligibility and determined your relief they will notify you. The Department will provide the cancellation information to your servicers who will apply the relief to your loan balance.
  • Are there any other steps that borrowers need to take after submitting an application?
    After you submit your electronic application you will receive an email confirmation from the Department of Education. The Department will announce a confirmation process for borrowers submitting a paper application. The Department of Education will review your application to confirm your eligibility for relief and will contact you if they need any additional information to verify your income or any other information provided in your application. If you do not hear from the Department of Education requesting further information, no further action is needed on your part.
  • Where should I send my paper application?
    Borrowers applying for cancellation using the paper form should send their completed application via mail to: Federal Student Aid Information Center PO Box 1854 Monticello, KY 42633 OR, you can fax your application to: (606) 396-4821 Please note that any paper applications sent to the Department of Education after November 10, will be collected but not processed as the program is being appealed in court.
  • How do I apply for student debt cancellation?
    In response to rulings from Republican appointed federal judges in Texas and Missouri, the Department of Education is currently not accepting and processing online applications. A paper form application is still available here and can be mailed to: Federal Student Aid Information Center PO Box 1854 Monticello, KY 42633 OR, you can fax your application to (606) 396-4821. Please note that applications sent to the Department of Education will only be collected by the Department but will not be processed at this time.
  • Is there a paper application available?
    Yes, to apply for cancellation using the paper application, click here. Paper applications sent to the Department after November 10th will be collected, not processed as the program is being appealed in court.
  • How will I know if my cancellation application has been received by the Department of Education?
    After you submit your electronic cancellation application, you will receive an email confirmation from the Department of Education. The Department has not indicated the confirmation process for paper applications. The Department will review your application and contact you if they need any further information.
  • Where can I access the cancellation application?
    In response to rulings from Republican appointed judges in Texas and Missouri, the Department of Education is currently not accepting and processing online applications. To download the paper application click here. Please note that paper applications sent to the Department of Education will only be collected by the Department, but will not be processed at this time.
  • How will cancellation work for borrowers who have applied for a borrower defense to repayment or closed school discharge?
    The Department will identify borrowers who submitted a Student Loan Debt Relief application and who are eligible for or also submitted a borrower defense to repayment (borrower defense) claim or applied for a closed school discharge. Once identified, the Department will adjust the loans for those borrowers who receive the $10k/$20K debt relief and are then determined to be eligible for these discharges in order to apply the discharge. These discharges may include a refund on certain eligible payments.
  • How does this impact the limited PSLF Waiver?
    This is a separate announcement from the limited PSLF Waiver, which expired October 31, 2022. Borrowers who continue to have student loans after this cancellation, PSLF could result in the cancellation of the rest, though the waiver no longer applies. For more information on PSLF, visit www.Forgivemystudentdebt.org.
  • What about the new affordable repayment plan that President Biden announced?
    In his announcement about debt cancellation, President Biden announced a new affordable repayment plan. That plan is not currently available, and its details are not finalized. These FAQs will be updated as soon as more information is available.
  • What is happening with the payment pause?
    The payment pause ended on August 30, 2023. Interest began accruing in September 2023 and payments resumed in October 2023. You should have received a monthly statement at least 21 days before your next payment was due.
  • How does this impact the IDR Account Adjustment?
    This is a separate announcement from the IDR Account Adjustment, and will require different actions for borrowers. Importantly, for borrowers who continue to have student loans after this cancellation, the IDR Account Adjustment could result in the cancellation of the rest. Importantly, borrowers with commercially-held FFEL loans will need to consolidate in order to take advantage of the IDR Account Adjustment. For more information on the IDR Account Adjustment, visit https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/idr-account-adjustment.
  • Do I have to show proof of income for the income cutoff? To whom do I submit the info? How?
    No. The only information required to submit your application is: First, middle initial, and last name Social Security Number Date of Birth Contact information Self attestation verifying your income information. The Department may reach out to you if they need additional information to verify your income eligibility. Make sure to provide up to date contact information and be prepared to provide requested documentation.
  • How do I figure out what kind of loan I have?
    You can identify your loan types by logging on to StudentAid.gov and selecting “My Aid” in the dropdown menu under your name (if you do not have an FSA ID, click “Create Account”). In the “Loan Breakdown” section, you’ll see a list of each loan you received. You’ll also see loans you paid off or consolidated into a new loan. If you expand “View Loans” and select the “View Loan Details” arrow next to a loan, you’ll see the more detailed name for that loan. Direct Loans begin with the word “Direct.” Federal Family Education Loan Program loans begin with “FFEL” or “Stafford.” Perkins Loans include the word “Perkins” in the name. If the name of your servicer starts with “Dept. of Ed” or “Default Management Collection System,” your FFEL or Perkins loan is federally managed (i.e., held by ED).
  • What is the deadline to apply for student debt cancellation?
    You will have until Dec. 31, 2023, to submit your application for student loan debt relief. Borrowers are encouraged to submit applications before mid-November to ensure that your loan relief is applied before student loan payments pause ends, which is currently scheduled for Dec. 31, 2022.
  • Is the additional $10,000 in cancellation for Pell Grant recipients automatic, or does it require documentation of Pell-grant receipt in the application? If so, what documentation?
    You do not need to provide documentation that you received a Pell Grant, the Department of Education will verify that information and your eligibility for an additional $10,000 in cancellation once you apply.
  • How do I opt out of student debt relief?
    Borrowers eligible for automatic relief will have until November 14th to opt out. In order to opt out, contact your servicer and tell them that you are not interested in receiving debt relief. Head to StudentAid.gov, find “My Aid,” and select “View loan servicer details” to get contact information for your servicer. You can also call the Department of Education at 1-800-4-FED-AID to be connected with your servicer. If you have multiple servicers, you will only need to notify one of them in order to communicate your interest in opting out.
  • Is the $10,000 of federal student loan debt cancellation for all eligible borrowers automatic, or does it require documentation in the application? If so, what documentation?
    Is the $10,000 of federal student loan debt cancellation for all eligible borrowers automatic, or does it require documentation in the application? If so, what documentation? Most borrowers will have to apply using either the Department of Education’s application. Some borrowers, such as those who filled out an IDR or FAFSA application using either 2020 or 2021 tax year information should receive cancellation automatically, without an application. For borrowers eligible for automatic cancellation, the Department has announced that it will set up an “opt-out” process for anybody choosing NOT to receive relief. To apply for cancellation online, go to https://studentaid.gov/debt-relief/application To download the paper application, click here.
  • What if I don't want to receive debt relief?
    For most borrowers, you will only receive debt relief if you submit an application. Some borrowers, such as those who filled out an IDR or FAFSA application using either 2020 or 2021 tax year information should receive cancellation automatically, without an application. If you are eligible for automatic debt cancellation, the Department of Education will contact you via email to notify you of your ability to opt out. Borrowers will have the option to opt out of relief by November 14th, 2022.
  • Do I need to consolidate my loans to become eligible for student debt cancellation?
    Eligible borrowers do not need to consolidate. All loans eligible for the student loan pause are also eligible for relief, including loans held by ED and guaranty agencies. (See What types of loans are eligible?) Commercially-held FFELP loans and Perkins loans held by institutions are no longer able to be consolidated to access student debt cancellation. If one of these loans was consolidated prior to September 29, 2022, they are eligible for student debt cancellation.
  • Are there any other steps that borrowers need to take?
    The online application is available at studentaid.gov, and the paper application can be found here. Commercially-held FFELP loans and Perkins loans held by institutions are no longer able to be consolidated to access student debt cancellation. If one of these loans was consolidated prior to September 29, 2022, they are eligible for student debt cancellation.
  • For the income eligibility, what if I am a dependent?
    If you are a dependent, your parents’ income will be considered for your eligibility for cancellation. For the purposes of submitting your application, the Department has advised dependent students to use your own income when applying. Once identified as a student, the Department will reach out via email with further instructions for you and your parents.
  • How do I know if I received a Pell grant?
    Log in to www.StudentAid.gov, the main portal for borrowers’ federal student loans. Once logged in, you can view all of your federal loans, and can access information about and applications for different repayment plans or cancellation programs. You should be able to view if you received Pell Grants on your “dashboard”.
  • Are all borrowers eligible for $10,000 debt cancellation?
    No. Only borrowers whose individual income is less than $125,000 or household income is less than $250,000 are eligible to receive debt cancellation from this announcement.
  • What if I received a Pell Grant in grad school, does that count?
    All borrowers who received a Pell Grant are eligible. However, typically Pell Grants are only awarded to undergraduate students. Many graduate students or graduate loan borrowers may have previously received a Pell Grant during their undergraduate studies, and would thus be eligible for an additional $10,000 of cancellation.
  • Are Pell Grant recipients who now earn above the individual and household income cutoffs eligible?
    No, all borrowers applying for cancellation must meet the income threshold to be eligible for cancellation.
  • Do I need to have completed my degree to qualify?
    No, you just need to meet the income threshold to be eligible for cancellation.
  • For the income eligibility, will the Department consider my assets? Other debts?
    Only income will be considered under the Department of Education’s eligibility process. The income caps for cancellation are individual incomes of $125,000 and household income of $250,000.
  • Who is eligible for the additional $10,000 ($20,000 total) in debt cancellation?
    Any borrower who meets the income eligibility criteria and who also received a Pell Grant at any time to support their education is eligible for an additional $10,000 in debt cancellation.
  • For the income eligibility, what counts as income? What year?
    The Department will be looking at annual federal income from either the 2020 or 2021 tax year. In other words, if in either 2021 or 2020 your income was below the income caps that have been described, you would be eligible for relief. Any source of income that is taxable and would be included in a borrower’s Adjusted Gross Income counts towards these caps. According to the IRS, gross income includes your wages, dividends, capital gains, business income, retirement distributions as well as other income.
  • For the income eligibility, does household size make a difference?
    The income threshold does not depend on household size.
  • Does this apply if I am still in school or have returned to school?
    Yes, as long as you meet the income eligibility requirements and your loans were disbursed before June 2022.
  • Does it matter when I received a Pell Grant in terms of whether I qualify for the additional $10,000 in cancellation?
    No. A borrower who received a Pell Grant at any time in any amount is eligible for a total of $20,000 of cancellation, as long as their current income is below the $125,000 maximum for an individual or $250,000 maximum for a married borrower, regardless of when they received the Grant and regardless of whether the borrower was still Pell-eligible when they took out the loans that could be cancelled.
  • How much of my debt will be forgiven under PSLF? Is there a cap?
    There is no cap on the amount of debt that can be relieved under PSLF. As long as borrowers work full time in qualifying public service, have Direct Loans, are in an Income-Driven Repayment plan, and make 120 qualifying payments, the entire balance of the federal student loan will be relieved.
  • If I work in public service but the loans are in my spouse’s or child’s name, or if the loans are in my name and my spouse or child works in public service, are these loans eligible for PSLF?
    Only loans in the name of the person working in the public service field are eligible for PSLF.
  • How does PSLF relate to other federal or state loan forgiveness programs?
    PSLF is independent from other federal or state loan forgiveness programs. However, months that count toward forgiveness on the income-driven repayment plans will generally count toward PSLF forgiveness as long as the borrower has qualifying employment in public service. For more information on other federal forgiveness programs, visit this page.
  • How does PSLF count time toward forgiveness if I took out loans at different times?
    In general, PSLF counts time toward forgiveness on a loan by loan basis. In other words, each loan must have 10 years’ worth of qualifying work and payments before it will be forgiven. If borrowers consolidate loans from different time periods before April 30, 2024, borrowers are credited with time based upon the oldest loan included in the consolidation.
  • I’ve heard/seen references to “ECF” with PSLF. What is that?
    “ECF” stands for Employment Certification Form. Recently, the Department of Education changed the name of this form to “PSLF Form.” This form is the form borrowers must use to document their progress toward PSLF with the federal government. Borrowers must have their public service employers sign the form in order to have qualifying monthly payments count toward PSLF.
  • Is this a permanent program or will it end?
    The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is a permanent program. However, the limited PSLF waiver (which allowed borrowers to receive past credit for previously ineligible loan payments) ended October 31, 2022. Some of the benefits of the waiver have been temporarily extended through the IDR Account Adjustment. Any credits received through the waiver will be permanently applied to the loan.
  • Who can benefit from Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)?
    All full time public service workers with federal student loans can benefit from PSLF. Public service includes work within federal, state, local and tribal governments, nonprofits with a 501(c)3 tax status, and certain other nonprofits.
  • Does the public service and qualifying payments have to be consecutive to count?
    Time spent in public service making qualifying payments does not need to be consecutive in order to count for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. If one leaves public service and returns, the credit count will pick up where it left off until 120 credits are reached.
  • Is there an income cap for who can benefit from PSLF?
    There is no income cap for those who can benefit from PSLF.
  • Does the U.S. Department of Education provide any information about PSLF?
    Yes. Information from the Department of Education on PSLF can be found here: https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service.
  • Is loan forgiveness under PSLF considered taxable income?
    At the federal level, no, loan forgiveness under PSLF is not taxable income. Every state treats loan forgiveness differently for state income tax.
  • What is the October 31, 2022 deadline for?
    The October 31, 2022 deadline was the date by which borrowers must consolidate their loans into Direct Loans, if necessary, and submit all PSLF forms for any qualifying public service work since October 1, 2007. Although the waiver has ended, many of the benefits have been extended through the IDR Account Adjustment.
  • How has the limited IDR Account Adjustment changed the qualifying payments eligibility requirement for PSLF?
    Under the IDR Account Adjustment, borrowers can receive credit toward PSLF for any month for which their loan was in “repayment”–i.e., the loan was not in deferment, forbearance, or default–even if no actual payment was made, and regardless of the loan type. (Please note: non-Direct Loan borrowers will need to consolidate their loan, but will still receive credit for past time in repayment.) Pursuant to an April 2022 announcement, the Department of Education is also going to adjust borrowers’ accounts to reflect that any time that the account was in forbearance for 12 or more consecutive months, was in forbearance for 36 cumulative months, or was in deferment prior to 2013 will be treated as time in an IDR plan. For PSLF purposes, these corrected numbers will count toward PSLF forgiveness as qualifying payments, and so will likely increase the count that many borrowers received through the limited PSLF waiver. This adjustment will be automatic, but some borrowers will need to consolidate before April 30, 2024 in order to take advantage of it. The Department of Education has stated that the majority of borrowers will see their accounts adjusted in 2024, while those who have been in repayment for 20 or 25 years will see their accounts adjusted sooner. Read here for more information about the IDR Account Adjustment.
  • I do not yet have 120 credits. How do I benefit from PSLF?
    You do not need to currently have 120 qualifying payments in order to submit paperwork for PSLF. If you have fewer than 120 credits, you can still submit PSLF forms for previous and current qualifying work. Borrowers can gain retroactive credits through the IDR Account Adjustment. Those credits will be permanently applied to the borrower’s account. Once the IDR Account Adjustment is complete, you can continue to accrue credits under the regular PSLF program rules, adding to those you receive during the waiver period. For borrowers who do receive 120 or more credits through the account adjustment, their loans associated with those credits will be forgiven.
  • What is the limited PSLF waiver?
    The limited PSLF waiver was a time-limited waiver that was issued by the Department of Education on October 6, 2021 and expired on October 31, 2022, which waived certain requirements of the PSLF program and allows borrowers to receive retroactive credit for past payments that were previously ineligible.
  • If I work for a government agency, is the agency my employer for PSLF, is the general government, e.g., the state or the city, my employer?
    In general, your employer will be whichever entity is listed on your paycheck or W-2 tax form. You should ask your Human Resources department to confirm who generally completes PSLF forms.
  • If I think I was denied credit toward PSLF–either because my payments weren’t counted or because my employer was considered ineligible–can I appeal?
    Yes, if you think you are not getting as much credit toward PSLF as you should, you can appeal the decision letter that you received that has the outcome you want to challenge. The appeals process for PSLF is called “reconsideration.” You can learn more about reconsideration and file a claim here. However, for most PSLF issues other than employer eligibility, you should file a complaint with the Federal Student Aid office.
  • How can I confirm what past employment I have already certified and the outcome of that certification?
    Currently, there is no clear process to confirm which employment has been certified. Once your PSLF form has been processed, you should see an uptick in the total number of qualifying payments made on your servicer’s website.
  • Who from my employer can sign my PSLF paperwork?
    Your employer can authorize any official to sign your PSLF form, as long as that official has access to employment and/or service records. Most employers have designated someone to process PSLF forms. You should ask your Human Resources department who can sign your forms.
  • How do I complete the paperwork to certify my employment for PSLF?
    To complete the paperwork, you can access the PSLF Help Tool available at Studentaid.gov/pslf, which you can use to generate the necessary form. The form will need to be signed by your employer and then sent to the federal government. Generally, borrowers need to submit PSLF forms for every qualifying public service employer for which they are seeking credit since October 1, 2007.
  • If I previously submitted paperwork to certify employment and it was denied, should I try again? Can I use the same forms or do I need to get new forms signed?
    First, make sure that all the information on the forms you submitted was accurate and complete. Frequently, forms are denied due to clerical errors like having the wrong EIN number for your employer or not having a “wet” signature, i.e., they have a typed-out electronic signature instead of using a pen. Second, you may need to call your loan servicer to determine the reason why your employment was not certified, e.g., whether your employer does not qualify as a public servicer OR if there was an issue regarding the number of hours you worked. **If you do call your servicer, make sure to take detailed notes of when you called, who you spoke to, and the substance of the conversation. As a result of the IDR Account Adjustment, borrowers will be able to certify their past employment at a later date to receive PSLF credit for qualifying payments they receive through the adjustment.
  • What can I do if I am unable to get my old employers to sign my employment certification papers?
    There is a box to check on the PSLF Form that states: “Check this box if you cannot obtain certification from your employer because the organization is closed or because the organization has refused to certify your employment. The Department will follow up to assist you in getting documentation for your employment. Complete Section 3, but do not complete Section 4.” You can check this box if you are having issues acquiring signatures from previous employers. The federal government might ask you for additional supporting information.
  • How often do I need to certify my employment?
    There is no requirement to certify employment every year, however, we recommend as a best practice to send in a PSLF form documenting your qualifying employment at least once a year. We also recommend that any time you change employers to make sure you get a final PSLF form documenting your entire period of employment before you leave. Doing the paperwork annually will help catch any potential problems to resolve as early as possible.
  • Can I submit an electronic signature?
    Your employer must sign the form with either a “wet ink” signature, a digitally drawn signature, or a scanned and pasted hand written signature. This is true even if the form will ultimately be faxed or emailed. The signature cannot be typed, even with a cursive font. If the signature is not written in one of these ways it will be rejected. **“Wet ink” signatures are signatures where a person uses a pen or seal to sign their name on a physical paper document
  • How long does it take to hear back once I submit my paperwork?
    Because of the increase in PSLF form submissions during the waiver, the government is working through a backlog. It has been taking several months for borrowers to have their accounts credited and, when applicable, their loans forgiven. Anecdotally, borrowers have waited 3-5 months to be processed. Although it is frustrating to wait without a sure deadline, there is no cutoff time for the government to act. For borrowers who filed their forms by October 31, 2022, the government will continue to give out credit and forgiveness under the waiver after that time for any borrower who filed by the deadline.
  • Does PSLF work for both undergraduate and graduate school debt?
    Yes. The program looks at the loan type –e.g., a Direct Loan– not what type of education it was used to finance.
  • Do I have to “apply” to start getting credit? Have I missed the chance to get credit for past work?
    Yes, borrowers must submit PSLF Forms for any qualifying public service work, however borrowers can apply at any point and get credit for past qualifying work and payments, so there is no “missed” chance. *Note: the limited PSLF Waiver expired on October 31, 2022. However, some of the benefits of the PSLF Waiver have been temporarily extended through the IDR Account Adjustment.
  • What loan types are eligible for forgiveness under PSLF?
    Any federal Direct Loans are eligible for PSLF. Often Direct Loans are referred to by other names. You may hear the terms subsidized or unsubsidized, Stafford, or Grad Plus. All of those loans are Direct Loans. You can determine what types of loans you have by going to your profile on www.StudentAid.gov and looking at your Loan Summary. For borrowers whose loans are not eligible, mainly borrowers whose FFEL loans are owned by private lenders and whose Perkins loans are owned by their schools, if these borrowers consolidate their loans by April 30, 2024, their new Direct Consolidation Loan will be eligible for PSLF and will receive credit for past time on their ineligible loans. This is similar to the benefit available under the limited PSLF waiver and is a result of the IDR Account Adjustment.
  • Does working for a private college or university count as public service for PSLF?
    If your college or university is a non-profit 501(c)3, then your employment will count for PSLF. Employment at a for-profit college or university does not count.
  • What if I have more than one job at the same time? Can both jobs count for PSLF?
    Yes, so long as both employers independently qualify. If you have more than one qualifying part-time job, you will be considered full-time if you work a combined average of 30 hours per week with both employers.
  • How does PeaceCorps or AmeriCorps service work with PSLF?
    Working as a PeaceCorps or AmeriCorps volunteer is considered qualifying employment for PSLF. Volunteers may use their Segal Education Award or PeaceCorps transition payment as a lump sum towards PSLF, qualifying up to 12 payments. Under the IDR account adjustment announced in April 2022, PeaceCorps and AmeriCorps volunteers can receive credit for certain time spent in forbearance or deferment. Click here for more information.
  • Does working for a Public Charter school qualify for PSLF?
    If your public charter school is a 501(c)3 organization or if it is run by a federal/state/local/tribal government, then your employment can qualify for PSLF.
  • How long do I have to have worked at my job for it to count for PSLF?
    There is no requirement for the length of time at any position to count for PSLF. Your qualifying employment must cover the same time period as repayment on your loans for any given month to count for PSLF.
  • Would public employment in a foreign country count for PSLF?
    It depends. The status of your employer is what counts for PSLF. If your employer is a non-profit 501(c)3, a Federal, state, local, or Tribal government or government agency, or a qualifying private non-profit without 501(c)(3) status, then the location of your employment is not relevant. Work for foreign governments does not count.
  • I work as a temp or a contractor at a government or non-profit employer. Does this qualify me for PSLF?
    Contract employment only qualifies for PSLF if you are directly employed by a qualifying employer. It is the status of your direct employer–i.e., who issues your paycheck–that controls. If you are directly employed by a for-profit company that has a contract with a government agency or non-profit organization, then your employment does not count.
  • If I take sick, disability, or family medical leave time off from work, or vacation time, can that time count toward PSLF?
    Yes, so long as you remain in qualifying employment during that time. The leave time must be provided by your employer or through Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • If my employer is a for-profit company, can I qualify for PSLF?
    No, for-profit employment does not count for PSLF.
  • What does “full time” employment mean for PSLF?
    Full-time means you meet your employer’s definition of full-time OR you work at least 30 hours per week on average, whichever is greater. Any leave time provided by the employer i.e. parental leave, sick time, vacation, etc, is excluded. Any leave time taken under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is also excluded. If you have more than one qualifying part-time job, you will be considered full-time if you work a combined average of 30 hours per week with both employers.
  • Do I need to still work in public service when applying for and receiving forgiveness through PSLF?
    Yes, you must be employed in qualifying public service at both the time that you apply for forgiveness (having already accrued 120 credits) and at the time that your loans are forgiven.
  • What types of non-profit companies qualify for PSLF?
    Any 501(c)3 organization qualifies for PSLF. A non-profit organization that does NOT have 501(c)3 status may qualify, so long as it provides one of the following services: Emergency management Military service: service on behalf of the U.S. armed forces or the National Guard Public safety Law enforcement: crime prevention, control or reduction of crime, or the enforcement of criminal law Public interest law services: legal services provided by an organization that is funded in whole or in part by a local, state, federal, or tribal government Early childhood education including licensed or regulated childcare, Head Start, and state-funded prekindergarten Public service for individuals with disabilities and the elderly Public health including nurses, nurse practitioners, nurses in a clinical setting, and full-time professionals engaged in health care practitioner occupations, health support occupations, and counselors, social workers, and other community and social service specialist occupations as such terms are defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Public library services School library or other school-based services
  • Why doesn’t employment from before October 2007 count for PSLF, especially if my loans are from before 2007?
    PSLF was created through the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 and went into effect in October 2007. The law does not authorize credit for employment that pre-dated its passage.
  • Does seasonal work count?
    Any month where you were considered a full-time employee at a qualifying employer can count towards PSLF. You will receive credit for the months where you worked full-time.
  • If I’ve changed employers, can past employers count for PSLF?
    Yes, past employment can always be certified. You can submit proof of past qualifying employment using the PSLF form at any time.
  • If I work more than 30 hours a week for a public service employer but they do not consider me to be “full time,” do I have any options?
    Under the current rules, the Department of Education requires you to meet your employer’s definition of “full time” if that definition is greater than an average of 30 hours per week. However, in July 2023 new rules will go into effect making an average of 30 hours per week full-time for all borrowers. This change is not currently in effect. Your employer is permitted under the federal rules to adopt a definition of “full time” that applies only to PSLF, and not to whether an employee qualifies for employer-sponsored benefits. The federal government will review what your employer fills out on the PSLF form and that is it. You can ask your employer to adopt this policy, which is a way for them to give you the benefit of student loan cancellation at no cost to them.
  • Does public service that I worked before taking out my loans count towards my total public service time?
    No. Only time that you worked after October 2007, when PSLF began, and after a particular loan was taken out will count as credit for that loan’s cancellation.
  • How do I know which IDR plan is the best option for me?
    When you log in to www.studentaid.gov, you can begin the process of enrolling in an income-driven repayment plan and see which ones you are eligible for and what your monthly bill would be under each. If you’re still unsure, there is always an option on the application that says “place me in the repayment plan with the lowest monthly payment.”
  • Does it matter if my payments have only been covering interest, or some of the interest, and not principal?
    No, regardless of how your payments are applied, as long as you’re in repayment that time will count towards the limited PSLF waiver. Even under the regular PSLF rules, it is OK if your payments do not cover your interest as long as you are making the full payment required on your monthly statement, as calculated by your IDR or 10-year standard repayment plan.
  • If I had to defer or forbear my payments for a period of time when I couldn’t afford them, does that time count for PSLF?
    Past forbearance periods of 12 consecutive months or greater, or 36 cumulative months or greater, will count towards PSLF. This is because the Department of Education is conducting a one-time IDR adjustment for extended periods that borrowers were in forbearance, which is set to take place in 2024. Under the new rules that go into effect on July 1, 2023, some, but not all, deferment and forbearance time will count towards PSLF.
  • Do payments made in bankruptcy count toward PSLF?
    No. Any payments you make while in default will unfortunately not count toward your 120 PSLF payments.
  • Whose income is used to calculate payments under IDR? Is it just mine or is it my combined income with my spouse?
    For married borrowers who file their taxes jointly with their spouse, the Department will calculate your monthly payment based on your *household* income and debt. For married borrowers who filed their taxes separately, you can remove your spouse’s income and debt when determining your discretionary income for most income-driven repayment plans. Under “Revised Pay As You Earn” (also known as REPAYE), your spouse’s income and debt will be included regardless of how you file your taxes.
  • My IDR plans are still too expensive for me. Do I have any options?
    The Department of Education offers IDR plans as the affordable repayment plan, because payments are based in part on income, not on loan balance. However, for many borrowers, IDR is not affordable. Unfortunately there are few additional options. For some borrowers, the standard repayment may offer lower monthly payments than an IDR plan. You may also explore a graduated or extended repayment plan, which can lower monthly payments, however these plans generally do not qualify for PSLF.
  • Do my payments need to have been full and on time to count for PSLF?
    Under the regular PSLF rules, payments must be full and on time. Under the waiver and the IDR Account Adjustment, any time in repayment status will count.
  • Is there an income cap for IDR, or other IDR eligibility?
    There is no income cap for income-driven repayment plans, but Income-Based Repayment and Pay As You Earn use a debt-to-income ratio called “partial financial hardship.” That means if you are a high-earner with only a small amount of student debt, you won’t be able to enroll into one of these IDR plans.
  • Can you make bulk payments or payments in advance and have those count for PSLF?
    Yes, but only in increments of up to 12 months. It is not possible to qualify for PSLF in fewer than 10 years.
  • Can I continue to make payments on existing loans if I go back to school so that my loans will continue to get credit for PSLF?
    In general, if you return to school for at least half time, your loans will be put into a deferment. Time in deferment does not generally count for PSLF. If you want to continue to make payments toward PSLF while in school, make sure that you tell your servicer to keep your loans in repayment first. Also, PSLF requires full-time employment. If you are returning to school and want to make payments toward PSLF, those payments will only count if you are still working full time while in school.
  • What payment plans qualify for PSLF?
    Under the standard PSLF program, you must be enrolled in either an income-driven repayment plan or the Standard 10-year Repayment plan. Under the PSLF Waiver, borrowers could receive credits for past time as long as their loans were in repayment, regardless of whether they actually made a payment and regardless of what plan they were in. Under the IDR Account Adjustment, borrowers will receive IDR credits for any past time in repayment, regardless of whether they made a payment and regardless of what plan they were in, as well as for past forbearances of 12 consecutive months or 36 cumulative months or deferments prior to 2013 (not counting in-school deferment). Most borrowers will be able to count these credits toward PSLF. In December 2022, the Department of Education clarified the credit Parent PLUS Loan borrowers receive under the IDR Account Adjustment will count toward PSLF.
  • Are there any options for those who have private loans? What if they refinanced their federal student loans with a private lender?
    Unfortunately not at this time. PSLF is only available to federal student loan borrowers with Direct Loans; if you have a privately-held FFEL Loan or a Perkins Loan (usually held by your university), you can consolidate those into Direct Consolidation Loans. If you do this before April 30, 2024, you can get credit for all past public service work performed towards PSLF.
  • If I am a cosigner and work in public service, can I have my cosigned loans forgiven through PSLF?
    Unfortunately not. The PSLF Program only applies to federal student loans.
  • Were Parent PLUS Loan borrowers able to benefit from the limited PSLF waiver? What about the IDR adjustment?
    Aside from consolidating their Parent PLUS Loan with their non-Parent PLUS federal student loan, there was nothing a borrower could do to benefit from the waiver for their Parent PLUS Loan. Through the IDR account adjustment, Parent PLUS Loan borrowers will automatically receive IDR credits on their account for past time in repayment, no matter what plan they were enrolled in, and for certain periods of deferment and forbearance. In December 2022, the Department of Education clarified that these adjusted credits will count towards PSLF.
  • Did the PSLF waiver change any of the rules about which IDR plans I can access with my consolidated Parent PLUS Loans?
    No. The waiver did not change anything specific to Parent PLUS Loans, including which plans they can access. To access an IDR plan, Parent PLUS Loan borrowers must consolidate their loan.
  • Are Parent PLUS Loans eligible for PSLF?
    Yes, Parent PLUS Loans are an eligible loan type for PSLF. However, they do not qualify for the IDR plans that are generally required to accrue qualifying payments toward PSLF. A Parent PLUS Loan borrower can consolidate their loan, and the new Direct Consolidation Loan will have access to the Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) plan, a type of IDR plan, which will qualify for PSLF.
  • If I previously consolidated Parent PLUS Loans with my other federal student loans, are my consolidated loans eligible for the limited PSLF waiver?
    Yes, the consolidated loan is eligible for the waiver and will receive as much credit toward PSLF as the non-Parent PLUS Loan was consolidated with the Parent PLUS Loan.
  • If I have made more than 120 qualifying payments on my loans, will I get a refund when my loans are given?
    Refunds only apply for payments (in excess of 120 payments) that were paid on a Direct Loan. This is true for both Direct Loans and FFEL Program loans that are consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan. Payments are returned as they were received (e.g., electronic payment or check). They are typically processed in one to two weeks after forgiveness but it may take longer to get your refund, depending on processing times in other parts of the government.
  • I made voluntary payments on my loans during the payment pause. I would like a refund of those payments. Can I request a refund on those payments?
    No, as of Aug. 28, 2023, the Department of Education has stopped accepting requests for refunds on payments made during the payment pause.
  • If I already paid off my loan in full but I would have qualified for loan forgiveness, under the regular program or through the limited waiver, is there a way I can get my money back?
    If you have already received forgiveness or paid off your loans, you are not eligible for a refund of prior payments.
  • Do spousal consolidation loans qualify for PSLF?
    Until June 2006, married federal student loan borrowers could consolidate their loans into a single Spousal or Joint Consolidation Loan. These loans included terms that prevented them from being able to be separated, even in the case of divorce. On October 11, 2022, the President signed the "Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act," to permit borrowers to separate joint consolidation loans. Since this law is new, it will take some time for the Department of Education to implement changes for borrowers to request separation of their joint consolidation loan into individual consolidation loans. To access PSLF, ED has implemented a separate process. To find out more about this process, see: studentaid.gov. Without separating the loans, Joint Direct Consolidation loans can qualify for PSLF and have access to IDR plans. However, for the entire amount to be forgiven, both spouses must have qualifying employment. If only one spouse works in public service, only the portion of the loan attributable to that spouse’s original loan will be forgiven. In that case, both spouses will remain liable for the remainder of the loan. Additionally, each spouse borrower must accrue 120 qualifying payments independently of each other; the payments will not be added up between the two spouses.
  • By when do I need to consolidate my loans in order to benefit from PSLF?
    Although you can consolidate your loans at any time, in general consolidating requires you to start accruing 10 years of service and payments and does not count past work toward PSLF loan cancellation. This was not true under the limited PSLF waiver, which allowed borrowers to keep past credit if they consolidated by October 31, 2022. If you missed the waiver deadline, you have another opportunity to consolidate without losing past credit through the IDR Account Adjustment. To benefit from this program without losing past time, you must consolidate your loans by April 30, 2024. For each of these deadlines, you must only have filed your application for a consolidation–it is OK if the application is approved and the loan is processed after these dates. The application can be completed online at StudentAid.gov in a matter of minutes.
  • If I consolidate my loans, do I get credit on my new loan for my past work, or do I need to “restart the clock” on my 120 payments to get loan forgiveness?
    In general, you do have to “restart the clock” when you consolidate your loans. This is because consolidation is the act of taking out a new loan to repay your old loans, and you need to accrue credit on that new loan itself. However, as part of the limited PSLF waiver, if you consolidated in the past or if you consolidate before October 31, 2022–just file the paperwork, it is OK if the process is completed after that date–your consolidated loan will get credit for your past time. For example, if you entered repayment on your first federal student loan in 2010 and then consolidated in 2015, normally your credit would restart in 2015. During the waiver, however, the Department of Education will automatically go back and give you credit on that consolidated loan starting in 2010. Also, if you consolidate after the waiver announcement and before the deadline, you will receive credit on your new loan for the entire period of repayment on your old loan. However, in both scenarios, you will still need to certify your employment for any period of qualifying public service work.
  • Will I need to provide proof of payments made on old loans pre-consolidation?
    No. The Department of Education has your loans’ repayment history. However, it is still a good idea to keep your own records in case there is ever an issue.
  • How do I know if I need to consolidate?
    If you have any loans that are not Direct Loans–e.g., a Federal Family Education Loan or Perkins Loan–you will need to consolidate those loans for them to be included in the PSLF program. You can check your loan type by logging into StudentAid.gov and reviewing the loans on your dashboard. Any loan that includes the word “Direct” is a Direct Loan. Any other loan will need to be consolidated. If you consolidate before April 30, 2024, you will not lose past credits towards PSLF. Warning: As of SEPTEMBER 29, 2022, any NEW consolidation loans that combine privately-held FFELP Perkins Loans (loans not covered by the payment pause) with federal loans already owned by the federal government may miss out on $10,000 or $20,000 in new debt cancellation. This does not affect eligibility for PSLF or IDR.
  • What is the difference between consolidation and refinancing?
    Both terms refer to the process of taking out a new loan to pay off an existing loan. Consolidation, however, is when a borrower takes out a new federal student loan to pay off their existing federal student loan(s). When you consolidate, your new federal student loan will have access to the consumer protections and repayment options available under federal law, including PSLF. Refinancing is when a borrower takes out a private loan to pay off their existing federal and/or private student loans. When you refinance, your new loan will not have access to any of the repayment or forgiveness options available to federal student loan borrowers. In short, if you refinance with a private lender, you will not have access to PSLF. There is no way to reverse the process once you have privately refinanced.
  • I consolidated but not to an income-driven loan. Will this qualify?
    The surest way to qualify your payments for PSLF is to enroll in an IDR plan. If you have not done so, you should consider doing this soon. During the limited PSLF waiver, any time in repayment counted toward PSLF, even if you were not enrolled in an IDR plan. The IDR Account Adjustment will continue this through the end of 2023. However, we recommend you ensure you are in a qualifying repayment plan for any payments you make. This includes the standard 10-year repayment plan or any of the income-driven repayment plans (IBR, ICR, PAYE, or REPAYE).
  • What if you consolidated your loans more than once? Will payments on both the original loan and the first consolidation loan count for PSLF and forgiveness of my current loan?
    If you consolidate your loans before December 31, 2023, all time on your original and prior consolidation loan will be reviewed for credit toward both IDR and PSLF.
  • How will consolidating affect your credit score?
    In general, consolidating should not have a negative effect—but in some cases, it could have a minor temporary negative effect. First, federal student loans generally don’t require a credit check, so there should not be a credit report pull that affects your credit. In fact, consolidating may actually have a positive effect on your credit score since you will be reducing the number of open credit lines on your credit report and your old loans will be shown as “paid in full.” This can increase your score but not decrease it. However, you will also be adding a new, younger credit line. If you don’t have other forms of open credit, this will mean that now your only credit line is new. This could slightly lower your credit score temporarily, until that new credit line ages.
  • Once multiple loans are consolidated, will that make them a single loan payment or will there still be payments for each loan?
    Your consolidation loan will be a single loan that repays and replaces multiple older loans. (Some borrowers may consolidate a single loan, in which case they will just have one loan replacing another.) If you are consolidating a combination of subsidized and unsubsidized loans, your consolidation process may result in one consolidation loan for each group of loans, but practically speaking your new loan(s) will streamline payments from multiple older loans.
  • Which of my student loans will I see on StudentAid.gov?
    Only your federal student loans will be listed on StudentAid.gov. None of your private loans will be available there.
  • How do I find out how many payments I've made before I consolidated my loans?
    If you log in to StudentAid.gov and go to your student aid dashboard, you can access a detailed loan history for each of your loans by clicking on “View Details” and then “Download My Aid Data.”
  • Are there advisors or resources that can help me as I apply for PSLF credit?
    Some borrowers may qualify to receive financial counseling or legal assistance from local community or legal services organizations. However, it can be hard to find high-quality expertise about the student loan system. Borrowers should be very wary of companies that contact them about their loans or that charge for their services. Borrowers should begin by reviewing www.StudentAid.gov, and can contact their servicer with questions.
  • What if I submit my PSLF paperwork and disagree with the response from the federal government?
    If you think you are not getting as much credit toward PSLF as you should, you can appeal the decision letter that you received that has the outcome you want to challenge. The appeals process for PSLF is called “reconsideration.” You can learn more about reconsideration and file a claim here. However, for most PSLF issues other than employer eligibility, you should file a complaint with the Federal Student Aid office.
  • What is the next step if I’ve gone through all the steps and are confident I’ve made 120 payments but was told that I am short payments and don't qualify for forgiveness?
    If you think you are not getting as much credit toward PSLF as you should, you can appeal the decision letter that you received that has the outcome you want to challenge. The appeals process for PSLF is called “reconsideration.” You can learn more about reconsideration and file a claim here. However, for most PSLF issues other than employer eligibility, you should file a complaint with the Federal Student Aid office.
  • My PSLF form was rejected, but the rejection notice doesn’t explain why, or says I did not include information that I included on my forms. What should I do?
    You should file a complaint with the Federal Student Aid office. We also recommend submitting a PSLF Reconsideration Form which can be found here.
  • What is the time frame for processing and can I check my status? I have heard that borrowers have to wait months for a response.
    There is no set timeframe for processing PSLF applications. The federal government is reviewing applications on a rolling basis. If you submitted your PSLF forms before the October 31, 2022 limited PSLF Waiver deadline, you will receive the waiver benefits, even if your application is not actually reviewed until after that date. For borrowers who will get additional credit through the IDR Account Adjustment, borrowers should see their accounts updated in 2024.
  • I made payments during the payment pause. Can I get a refund?
    Yes, and you must call your current student loan servicer and request a refund of any voluntary payments you’ve made during the payment pause. Your student loan servicer is unable to process written requests for refunds.
  • Does the “payment pause” due to COVID affect my PSLF eligibility?
    The payment pause lasted from March 13, 2020 until August 30, 2023. Each paused month will count as a qualifying “payment” toward PSLF, even though no payment is due. For these months to count as credit toward PSLF, however, you must still have qualifying employment. Please note that technically the payment pause is an “administrative forbearance.” You may see in written materials about PSLF that forbearance periods do not count toward PSLF. This is generally true, but the payment pause is an exception. Additionally, you do not need to “leave” the payment pause–i.e., you do not need to ask your servicer to put your loans back into repayment–in order to have these months count toward PSLF.
  • What should I do if my loan has been transferred to different companies for servicing, and payments I made to my old servicers aren’t getting counted for PSLF?
    You should file a complaint with the Federal Student Aid office.
  • My servicer told me to put my loans in deferment or forbearance, not an IDR plan. What should I do?
    You should file a complaint with the Federal Student Aid office, and include details of what your servicer told you, and whether you would have benefited from being in an IDR plan and/or having your months count toward PSLF.
  • What should I do if I have complaints about my student loan servicer?
    You should file a complaint with the Federal Student Aid office and with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • I’ve heard about account transfers between loan servicers. Is there anything I need to do?
    Approximately 16 million borrowers will have their accounts transferred at some point, likely before the end of 2022. As a borrower, you should make sure that your contact information is up to date on StudentAid.gov, you should download as much of your account data as you can, and you should call your servicer to request a complete copy of your account. Additionally, you should look for a notice informing you to which company your loans will be transferred.
  • Are there reputable federal and private student loan specialists to help borrowers to navigate all of the complex rules and regulations that can be hired for a nominal fee?
    You should never have to pay for help with your student loan. None of the programs available to federal student loan borrowers, including PSLF, have any cost associated with them. However, some companies charge consumers to help you with your student loan accounts. Borrowers can always choose to pay a company, instead of doing it for free themselves, the way a consumer may pay a tax preparer instead of filing their taxes themselves. However, you should be on the lookout for scams. Anyone offering “new loan forgiveness” plans or who contacts you directly and who claims to be from the government may be a scammer. Do not give payment information to anyone before exploring all of your options. Your first stop for free loan assistance should be to explore your options on StudentAid.gov and then to call your student loan servicer to talk about what might be best for you.
  • What is the IDR Account Adjustment?
    The IDR Account Adjustment is a one time audit of all federal student loan accounts to determine how much time borrowers have been in repayment and how close they are to achieving debt cancellation through the Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans. Under the IDR plans, borrowers are able to have their debt cancelled after 20 or 25 years in repayment depending on the plan they are enrolled in. The Department of Education will be counting any time spent in repayment and some forbearances and deferment periods in this audit. Read more about the time that counts toward the IDR Account Adjustment here.
  • Is the IDR Account Adjustment automatic?
    For many borrowers, the IDR Account Adjustment will be automatic. However, if a borrower has federal loans that are not currently held by the Department of Education, they will need to consolidate before April 30, 2024 in order to participate in the IDR Account Adjustment. You can check studentaid.gov to determine if your loans are held by the Department of Education, as they will list the Department on the loan-level details about each loan. Department-held loans are the same loans that have received the payment pause. Borrowers seeking Public Service Loan Forgiveness should confirm that they have a Direct Loan, and if they do not have a Direct Loan, including Direct Consolidation Loans, they can consolidate by April 30, 2024, to retain credit for their past public service work and qualify for PSLF in the future.
  • Do I need to be on an IDR plan to take part in the IDR Account Adjustment?
    No. Borrowers who have not previously been enrolled in income driven repayment plans are able to receive credit through the IDR Account Adjustment, meaning that they can receive retroactive credit for past time in repayment toward cancellation under the IDR plans. However, if borrowers want to continue receiving credit toward IDR cancellation after the IDR Account Adjustment takes place they will need to enroll in an IDR plan moving forward, including the annual recertifications required by the IDR program.
  • When will the IDR Account Adjustment take place?
    The Department of Education has begun performing the audit on accounts that have been in repayment the longest, over 20 or 25 years, and for those who have been working in the public service for over ten years. All other accounts will see their adjustment take place in 2024.
  • How do I enroll in an IDR plan?
    You can enroll in an IDR plan by logging in at studentaid.gov or by calling your servicer to request one. To see which option might be most affordable for you, log in to studentaid.gov and use the repayment calculator tool to review your options.
  • How do I get credit for forbearances and deferments that don’t receive automatic credit?
    If you would like your account reviewed to ensure that you have received all possible credit for forbearances and/or deferments you’ve experienced, you can submit a complaint to the FSA Ombudsman to have your account reviewed and specifically mention the times in deferment and/or deferment that you would like to have counted and whether or not your servicer told you that time in those deferments and/or forbearances would count towards the IDR and/or PSLF programs.
  • Can I get PSLF credit through the IDR Account Adjustment?
    Yes! Any credit you receive toward the IDR Account Adjustment will also count toward PSLF credit, provided you were employed by an eligible public service entity during the months for which you received credit in the IDR Account Adjustment. If you do not have a Direct Loan, you will also need to consolidate your loan by April 30, 2024. If the Account Adjustment gives you 120 qualifying payments and if you are still employed in public service, your loan will be cancelled. If you do not have 120 qualifying payments yet, you can continue to accrue payments as long as you maintain public service employment and make payments in a qualifying payment plan. If you have 120 qualifying payments but are not currently employed in public service, you can qualify for debt cancellation if you resume working full-time for a public service employer. Make sure you have certified any qualifying employment with the Department of Education–it cannot give you credit for work that it doesn’t know you performed!

Note: The following FAQs were last updated on 3/28/2023.

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