In October, the U.S. Department of Education announced a series of reforms to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which forgives student debt for public servants after 10 years of qualifying payments.
Included in those reforms is a limited-time waiver through Oct. 31, 2022, that allows borrowers to count payments from any federal-loan programs or repayment plans toward loan forgiveness through PSLF, including programs and plans that were not previously eligible.
Per the department, that waiver alone is intended to bring 550,000 borrowers closer to student-loan forgiveness automatically. Other changes to PSLF included making it easier for service members to get credit toward the program, review all previously denied PSLF applications to identify and address errors and improve outreach to those who might be eligible for the program.
According to a recent analysis from advocacy group Student Borrower Protection Center, while 9 million public servants are eligible for student-loan forgiveness, only 2% of them have actually gotten their debt wiped out — and fewer than 15% of the 9 million borrowers have filed paperwork to track their PSLF progress.
If you're a public servant with student debt, here's what you need to do to make use of the waiver:
Confirm that you qualify for PSLF by ensuring you are employed at a U.S. federal, state, local or tribal government or nonprofit and you are working full-time.
Submit the form on or before Oct. 31 to have prior ineligible payments, like those made under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program, count toward loan forgiveness if you currently have a federal direct loan.
If your loans are not direct loans (for example, you may have student loans under a number of different loan companies), you need to consolidate them into a federal direct loan. Once you do so, you may submit the PSLF form.
Once you submit the paperwork, the Education Department should notify you of the relief you are eligible to receive. As Insider previously reported, though, married couples who are public servants that combined their loans into spousal joint consolidation loans are currently not eligible for PSLF because law prohibits them from separating their loans into a direct federal loan.