Public Service Workers Have 6 Weeks To Apply For Student Loan Forgiveness Waiver – Forbes

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 24: U.S. President Joe Biden, joined by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, … [+] speaks on student loan debt in the Roosevelt Room of the White House August 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. President Biden announced steps to forgive $10,000 in student loan debt for borrowers who make less than $125,000 per year and cap payments at 5 percent of monthly income. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Borrowers looking to receive student loan forgiveness for public service work have a rapidly narrowing window to apply for relief under a temporary waiver. The Biden administration has updated key guidance regarding the program, clarifying what borrowers need to do to apply.
Here’s the latest.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) provides federal student loan forgiveness for borrowers who have devoted their careers to public service work. Borrowers who work for 10 years or more for public or nonprofit organizations while meeting other (sometimes complicated) program requirements can get their entire federal student loan balance forgiven.
But PSLF was plagued by problems for years due to complex regulations, administrative oversight issues, and improper handling of accounts by loan servicers. Approval rates barely eclipsed two percent.
In response to these problems, last year the Biden administration enacted the Limited PSLF Waiver, an initiative that temporarily eases several of the PSLF program’s strict rules. Specifically, the Limited PSLF Waiver allows the Education Department to retroactively credit broad prior loan periods (including certain deferment and forbearance periods) towards a borrower’s loan forgiveness term under PSLF that may have previously been rejected.
But the Limited PSLF Waiver is a temporary program and is set to expire on October 31 — just over six weeks away. Student loan borrower advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers have been urging the Biden administration to extend the deadline, but so far, administration officials have given no indication that an extension is coming. Meanwhile, millions of borrowers who may benefit from the waiver initiative have yet to take action.
With only six weeks remaining until the expiration of the Limited PSLF Waiver, advocates have grown increasingly concerned that millions of borrowers who are just learning about the initiative may miss the boat on receiving relief. Many borrowers will have to take specific steps by October 31 to qualify for PSLF credit and loan forgiveness. Specifically:

Both of these steps can take time to complete, and even longer for the Education Department to process. Borrowers and advocates have been worried that if Direct loan consolidation and employment certification are not completed by October 31, borrowers would lose out on PSLF relief.
This month, the Education Department has updated its Limited PSLF Waiver guidance and clarified that borrowers must submit their relevant applications by October 31 to qualify for the Limited PSLF Waiver, but those applications do not have to be processed by the Education Department by that date for borrowers to receive relief.
For Direct loan consolidation, the Education Department says, “If you have FFEL, Perkins, or other loan types that are not Direct Loans, your consolidation application must be submitted online through StudentAid.gov by 11:59 p.m., Eastern time on Oct. 31, 2022, in order for you to receive the benefits of the limited PSLF waiver.”
For the PSLF employment certification forms, the Education Department instructs borrowers to “use the PSLF Help Tool by Oct. 31, 2022, to generate a PSLF form that is eventually approved. [The Education Department] will maintain a record if you complete all the steps of the PSLF Help Tool on or before Oct. 31, 2022, but you must still print, sign, have your employer(s) sign, and submit the PSLF form to MOHELA, the PSLF servicer.”
Alternatively, borrowers can submit a manual PSLF form (not generated by the PSLF Help Tool) signed by the borrower’s employer, but it “must be dated on or before Oct. 31, 2022, and this form must later be approved, for the borrower to receive PSLF credit.” The Education Department says that “[t]o receive benefits of the limited PSLF waiver, the employer’s signature and date on your PSLF form must be on or before Oct. 31, 2022, even if you submit your form at a later date… If the date signed by your employer’s authorized official is on or after Nov. 1, 2022, the normal program requirements for PSLF” apply.
Borrowers can learn more about the Limited PSLF Waiver here, or PSLF more generally here.
Use the online consolidation tool if you need to consolidate your loans through the Direct consolidation program, or the PSLF Help Tool to start working on the PSLF employment certification forms. The Education Department has also released a new PSLF employer search tool for borrowers unsure about whether their employment may qualify.
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