Government Employee Loan Forgiveness

In 2017, one of the best ways to get rid of your Federal Student Loan Debt is to simply be a Government Employee, and to use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to earn complete forgiveness for your loans.

In addition to Federal employees, the PSLF program also offers student loan forgiveness for all other sorts of Government Employees, including those working at the Federal, State and even Local level. That means that if you have any sort of job connected to the Government (at any level), you’re eligible for the best Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Program on the market.

Better yet, President Obama’s Student Loan Forgiveness reforms recently modified the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to make it even better than it’s ever been before.

And it’s important that you start taking advantage of this program now, because President Trump’s Student Loan Forgiveness Program has suggested decreasing it’s value, but there’s also talk of him potentially doing away with these forgiveness benefits entirely.

My advice to anyone with student loan debt is to get enrolled in an eligible Income-Based Federal Student Loan Repayment Plan and start working toward your Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Benefits immediately, as that may be the only way to protect yourself from whatever changes President Trump ends up making to the program.

But Before We Get Into Details…

The fact that you’re here means you’re interested in getting rid of your student loan debt, and I commend you for taking the first step down that long and potentially difficult road!

But before we proceed, I want to make one thing perfectly clear: there’s no easy path to earning student loan forgiveness. It takes time, it takes research, and it takes sticking to a plan. And while you can do everything entirely on your own (for free!), it is possible to pay an expert to handle the difficult stuff for you.

If you’re the type of person who doesn’t have the time, or who doesn’t want to do the research, then I would recommend calling the Student Loan Relief Helpline before you read any further. The Student Loan Relief Helpline will take your call for free, take down your financial information, and start making suggestions on how you should proceed to deal with your outstanding student loan debt.

They will offer a paid service that lets you outsource all the work to them, but you are not obligated in any way to accept their offer, and the reason why I suggest calling them is that you’ll be able to ask questions, get answers, and hopefully be steered in the right direction before you end up confused about what you should be doing to deal with your debt.

Again, it’s free to call this helpline, so the only thing you’re risking by dialing the number is losing a few minutes of your time.

To reach the Student Loan Relief Helpline, call 1-888-906-3065.

Government Employee Student Loan Forgiveness

How does it work? Fortunately, it’s quite simple:

Anyone employed by the Government and working full-time satisfies the employment condition required to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, making them eligible for total loan forgiveness.

In an nutshell, you’re able to receive student loan forgiveness for Government workers by working for the Federal Government, a State or Local Government, simply by making 10 years’ worth of payments on your qualifying student loan.

Other than getting approval for a discharge via the Borrowers Defense Against Repayment program, this remains the best, cheapest, and fastest possible way to wipe out your Federal student loans.

For the sake of comparison, the normal public doesn’t earn forgiveness until they’ve made 20 years worth of payments, so while that 10 year limit might seem a long way off, you should definitely be happy about it, and start taking advantage of it.

What are the Eligibility Guidelines?

There are four main conditions that you must satisfy in order to qualify for federal or state employee student loan forgiveness benefits.

Those four requirements are:

  1. You must have received your Student Loan under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, and your loan may not be in, or have ever been in default
  2. You must make 120, full, on-time and scheduled monthly payments on your Direct Loan (and only payments made after October 1st, 2007 will count toward the required 120)
  3. You must make those 120 monthly payments while enrolled in a qualifying Federal Student Loan Repayment Plan
  4. You must be, or have been working in a full-time position at a qualifying public service organization (any Government position counts) at the time each of those 120 monthly payments were made

It seems pretty complicated, but for anyone who’s got a Federal Direct Loan, and who also works for a Government agency of any sort (Police, Firefighter, Park Ranger, Civil Service, DMV, etc.) this program is virtually guaranteed to work, so participating is a no-brainer.

1. Qualifying Loans

Are all student loans eligible for Government worker loan forgiveness? Unfortunately, no.

Private student loan debt cannot be forgiven under this program, though you may have access to other forms of Private Student Loan Debt Relief.

In fact, even some Federal loans won’t qualify for these benefits.

Only those Federal loans issued under the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program are eligible for Government employee forgiveness.

That means FEEL Loans, Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans, Grad Plus Loans and any other Federal Student Loan will not qualify for forgiveness benefits unless they’re first consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan.

2. Qualifying Payments

There’s three qualifying factors that determine whether or not any particular monthly payment will count toward your 120 payment threshold, including:

  1. Payments Must be On Time
  2. Payments Must be In Full
  3. Payments Must be Scheduled

Again, as long as you’re working for a Federal, State or Local Government organization and making monthly payments on time, in full, and according to a qualifying Repayment Plan, you won’t have anything to worry about.

But you do have to make sure that your payments are being issued under one of the Income-Based Repayment Plans, as only payments under those plans will count toward your 120 payment requirement.

3. Qualifying Repayment Plans

As I just mentioned, only Income-Based Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans qualify for Government employee loan forgiveness, so I recommend that you enroll in one of them as soon as possible.

Which plans count as being “Income-Based”?

None of the other repayment plans offer forgiveness benefits, so make sure that you’re enrolled in one of the Income-Based Plans mentioned above or your monthly payments won’t count towards the forgiveness threshold.

Many people make this simple mistake, and end up costing themselves years’ worth of qualifying payments. The sooner you get enrolled in an Income-Based Repayment Plan, the sooner you’ll get your eventual forgiveness benefit.

4. Qualifying Employment

This is probably the easy part, since you wouldn’t be reading this page unless you were already a Government employee, or considering becoming one and researching the many benefits that employment provides.

Anyway, loan forgiveness benefits are available to all Government employees, including those working for any Federal, State, or Local Government agency, entity or organization.

As long as you’re employed in one of those positions, and working full-time, then you’ll qualify for student loan forgiveness benefits once you’ve made the required 120 payments.

If you don’t plan on working for a Government agency for 10 full years, then don’t give up quite yet, because all of the following professions also qualify for the same forgiveness benefits offered by the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program:

Additionally, keep in mind that you don’t have to do your 10 year stint of Public Service all at the same organization, or even for the same type of organization, or in the same line of work.

In fact, you could mix 3 years of Government service with 5 years of Nursing and 2 years of Teaching, then receive loan forgiveness at the 10 year mark.

Questions? Comments? Concerns?

If you have questions about how to qualify for the Government worker student loan forgiveness program, then please feel free to ask away in the comments section below.

I’ll do my best to get you a response within 24 hours, and if I can’t answer your question, then I’ll direct you to someone who can.

What do you think about this program? Is it fair? Does it encourage over-borrowing, or does it help subsidize the all-to0-expensive costs of higher education? Should it continue? Should it be modified?

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Tim's experience struggling with crushing student loan debt led him to create the website Forget Student Loan Debt, where he offers advice on paying off student loans as quickly, and cheaply, as possible. His new website Forget Tax Debt, offers similar advice to people with back tax problems.

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  1. Natalie says:

    I’m not understanding how the ICR works? Based on the calculator I used on student my loan would be paid off after 92 months under the ICR plan (this was the only income based program it said I qualified for). Do you only benefit from the PSLF program if you basically have extremely high student loan balances (mine is 29k) and/or income near poverty level? I played with the numbers and this seems to be the only way the balance wouldn’t be paid off in 10 years.

    • Hi Natalie,

      Yeah, PSLF is really for people with massive debt, tiny incomes, or trouble making their income-based payments. It won’t help people who don’t owe that much, and who make lots of money. The problem is that your income-based payments pay the dead off before it can be forgiven.

  2. Hi Tim,
    I currently am under ACS (a Xerox company) for repayment. I’ve consolidated already. Am I still eligible for forgiveness if I work for the Federal Government? If not, what’s my next step at forgiveness through public service?

    • Hi Andy,

      Depends on what you did with the consolidation – that could have screwed you. Contact your loan servicer to ask them about your eligibility for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

  3. Amanda Thomas says:

    Hi Tim,

    Thank you for the article. I’ve worked for the government for about 5 years and hope to qualify for PSLF in the next 5. I have a mix of Stafford/Graduate Plus student loans from undergrad and law school. I just recently applied to Fed Loan Servicing to have my loans serviced by them and to start the process and I hope that no one makes the same mistakes that I have. (It took me so long to apply because my office told me they wouldn’t sign the verification because the program didn’t start yet. Which was totally incorrect).

    Primarily, YOU HAVE TO CHECK IF YOUR LOAN IS A DIRECT STAFFORD OR PLUS LOAN, as only those qualify under the program. If it is not, and your loan was a Stafford/Graduate loan that was backed by a bank … IT WILL NOT QUALIFY FOR FORGIVENESS unless you consolidate it to a DIRECT loan under Fed Loan Servicing and make 120 payments. I think this is totally ridiculous, as the payments stay the same, it’s just that the government is getting paid for servicing your loan, not a private institution.

    In my case, I assumed (incorrectly) that a portion of my loans serviced by American Education Services (AES) would qualify for PSLF, because I took them out, they said “Graduate/Stafford” loan, and I went through the government to borrow them. WRONG. In short, I have made five years of payments under an income based repayment program (see: compounded interest), NONE OF WHICH WILL EVER QUALIFY FOR PSLF. Of course, I could have consolidated the loans 5 years ago, made the same payment amount and would only have 5 years to go, but alas, I did not and am kicking myself for it. I will be consolidating my remaining loans to Fed Loan Servicing to be considered for PSLF and have “lost” five years of payments because I didn’t do so sooner and didn’t do my homework on it.

    I don’t want anyone to make the same $50,000 mistake that I made, which is not consolidating the moment you start working for the government. It doesn’t matter who services your loans as far as payment goes; it does matter for PSLF purposes.


    • Thanks for sharing this Amanda. This is a complicated process and people don’t know what exactly they’re doing, then end up getting screwed out of benefits that they deserve.

  4. I would like to know who decided to allow FedLoans servicing rights to state employees. These people lack the knowledge, or I believe care to understand how to help their clients. I have been calling them several times a month for three months, and they still have yet to complete the process. They are in need of serious help, and I would like to discuss this further with someone that cares as much as I do about my repayment plan.

    • I can’t answer that for you… and I’m not even sure where to go for that answer, but it’s probably some politician. Call your local Congressperson and see if they can find out for you.

  5. Hi Tim,
    My husband took out Parent Plus loans with American Education Services for our children starting 2000 for our son and 2002 for our daughter. The loans are now UnSub Consolidated loans with American Education Services. My husband retired 2 1/2 years ago after working 34 years with Department of Defense. After 120 payments will he qualify for any loan forgiveness program? Also, he has been battling cancer. If God forbid he should pass away, is the loan then discharged? The loan is under his name only. Thank You

    • Hi Jan,

      No – that’s not how the program works. For your 120 payments to qualify, they have to be made WHILE WORKING in a qualifying position. Any payments made after retiring aren’t going to satisfy the eligibility conditions of the program. I’m sorry to tell you this, as it really does suck, but the way that the program was structured doesn’t allow for retroactive payments to be applied to previous service.

      Visit my page on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program for additional details.

  6. Hi Tim,
    I work for the government and don’t seem to be able to get pay loans paid on time and nor paid in full. Will I qualify for the student loan forgiveness program after 5 years of service? Also, do you recommend any other opportunities, while I am still in school part time?

    • Hi There,

      It sounds like you didn’t read through this page, because there’s no program offering loan forgiveness after 5 years. Also, no, if you don’t pay on time or in full, you will not receive forgiveness.

      Get your stuff together and start making your payments on time, or you’ll never get out of debt. You’ve got a huge opportunity to wipe out your loans, so buckle up and figure out what you need to do to get financially responsible.

  7. Rosalinda McCain says:

    Thank you soooo much for the information I also work for USPS and was trying to find out if I qualify, is there a link for the forms for public service

  8. Good morning Tim,
    my wife has some student loans, and I am a federal employee with 9 years in the service. would she qualify under this program?

  9. Hi, I am a state employee working for the CSU system. I have student and I am about to go on repayment. Do I qualify for this program?

  10. I have been paying off federal student loans since 1993, however, I’ve worked for the a federal agency for a few years, and now I work with the VA. I have not signed up for the loan forgiveness program yet. If I sign up NOW, do I still have to make 120 payments from the day my application is received? That seems nuts. And unfair.

  11. Hi Tim,

    My loans are in repayment status and I make my payments on-time. I did qualify for the Income Based Repayment option last year and although the were high, I was able to maintain them. This year the amount went up $50 and I just purchased a new home. I started working for a Non-profit health insurance company January 2016, the same time I had to re-apply for the IBR. I do not think it was considered. We are the largest Medicaid provider in my state. I heard about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program recently and I am curious to see if I actually qualify, but I do not want to waste me time if I am not. Do you know if non-profit health insurance companies would count?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Desiree,

      If you work for a true non-profit company (who has the 501(c)(3) designation), then yes, you will qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

      Check out my page about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program for the high-level details of how it works, then visit my page about Non-Profit Student Loan Forgiveness for the elements that will apply directly to you.

      Your next step will be to contact whoever services your loans (the people you send your monthly payments to), to ask them how you can enroll in the program. They’ll probably have you sign up for the Pay As You Earn or REPAYE Student Loan Repayment Plan, then each payment you make will count toward the 120 payment threshold, and after 10 years of payments, your remaining debt will be forgiven!

      Congratulations, because if it all works out, you’re going to save tens of thousands of dollars!Thi

  12. Does USPS not qualify as a qualified employer?

  13. Latisha Woods says:

    How do you sign up for this program? I have been working as a government employee for almost 8 years

    • Hi Latisha,

      You need to speak with whoever services your loan and tell them that you want to take advantage of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. They’ll want you to enroll in one of the eligible Income-Based Student Loan Repayment Plans, like the PAYE Plan, or the REPAYE Plan.

      If you don’t want to deal with all the paperwork yourself, then you should call the Student Loan Relief Helpline, who will be able to fill out all the paperwork for you (for a fee). You can reach them at: 1-888-694-8235

  14. I have made 15 payments through a consolidation program towards my 120 payments. The institution where my loans are held, is absolutely horrible and I want my monies out of their hands and into another agency. If I change institutions, will I have to start all over again with the 120 payments?

    • Hi Krissy,

      No, you won’t have to start over with your payments. However, be very careful about changing lenders, because sometimes things do get lost in translation. If you truly want to move to another lender, make sure to hire some sort of legal counsel, get all your paperwork notarized, and ensure that you aren’t doing anything that could end up disqualifying you for benefits. You may want to contact the Student Loan Ombudsman Group to file a complaint and see if they can help you sort out the legal implications for changing lenders.

  15. Thankyou Tim for writing about this program! I confess I’m a bit confused about the stipulation that all 120 payments must occur AFTER October 1, 2007. Using that date, NOT A SINGLE ONE OF US will be eligible for any type of student loan forgiveness until after October 1, 2017. Is that correct? The applications are available, but the program won’t start until 2017?

    • Hi Lindy,

      Yes, the way the program was created, no one can qualify for forgiveness until October 1st, 2017. That was done on purpose.

      Remember, these programs are politically motivated, and the banks/lenders who are holding student loan debt have a great deal of power. President Obama and the Congress likely did what they could to move this date up, but it’s not easy to get anyone to agree to forfeit money at all, especially in the short-term. This was probably a negotiating chip that they used to ensure the bill would receive enough support to pass.

  16. Claudia Clark says:

    My son’s student loans are under my name. I have been a state government employee for over twenty years. I pay these loans monthly. Do I qualify for this program?

    • Hi Claudia,

      The loans are in your name, and his? Or in yours entirely? What types of loans are they? Private or Federal? If Federal, they’re PLUS Loans, right? This is all important.

  17. Tammy Martin says:

    What changes were put in place for the FELP in 2016 if any?

    • Hi Tammy,

      I haven’t seen any yet. Did you hear something that you wanted to check on? If you’re aware of any updates, please let me know and I’ll look into them.

  18. I have a question for you Tim,
    I am working on increasing my hours with the VA from 27 to full-time, however it is taking some time. My loans are with SC Student Loan Corp., which I believe is privately funded and not federal, and I had already consolidated my loans with them. It sounds like I need to move my loans to a an income base repayment plan because this is what is proposed to be the only type of loan that will be eligible. Does that sound right? If yes, would I be able to consolidate my loans (I have a subsidized and a non-subsidized loan consolidated loan) and how quickly should I do that?
    Thank you!

    • Hi RLB,

      I would not consolidate a Federal Loan (subsidized loans are probably Federal) with a Private Loan (your already consolidated loan). It’s never a good idea to combine Private debt with Federal debt, as you’ll lose eligibility for Federal forgiveness benefits by doing that.

      You need to figure out which loans are Private and which are Federal. Talk to your loan servicer (whoever you send the checks to) to figure that out.

  19. Pam Hernandez says:

    Where do we apply to start the process? I don’t see any contact info.

  20. I am under civil service as county account clerk for the past 27 years. My student loans kick in this April. Can I do this plan and still retire in the next year?? Thank u for the advice…..

    • When did you originally take out your loans? Why are they only kicking in this April if you’ve been working for 27 years? You didn’t give me nearly enough information to determine whether or not you’ll qualify, or how long it’ll take to earn forgiveness, but my gut says “No”. You have to be enrolled in one of the eligible Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans (only the income-based plans count), and you probably won’t get credit for retroactive payments either.

  21. Bob watson says:

    I have worked for the USPS for 35 years and have parent plus loans . My question is I plan to work 2 more years then retire I will receive a Civil Service annuity. Would I be able to receive the loan forgiveness if I continue to make make the required payments after I retire?

    • Hi Bob,

      That’s a really good question, and to tell you the truth, you’re not going to like the answer. In the section called “What Are the Eligibility Guidelines?”, look at number 4.

      You must be, or have been working in a full-time position at a qualifying public service organization (any Government position counts) at the time each of those 120 monthly payments were made

      If you’re not working full-time at a qualifying job, then your payments won’t count toward forgiveness.

      Sorry to be the bearer of bad news here.

  22. Hello,
    So I have a federal education loan from 97-2010 and have been making monthly on-time payments for years. While I haven’t been ‘enrolled’ in this program will my previous payments apply?

  23. Hello Ma’am,

    I work for the VA and my wife is a stay at home mom. Since I am the one paying her student loans can I consolidate our loans together and then qualify?


  24. I have graduate nursing loans. I opened accounts in 2007. I have been making payments since 2010 – beginning balance around $40K. I haven’t consolidated these. I’ve been working full-time for government agency since 2007 as well.

    Do I qualify?
    Do I need to consolidate?
    If so, what is the contact information to get started?


    • Hi There,

      Did you read through the post and look at the eligibility requirements?

      The only people who can give you a for-sure answer about whether or not you qualify for specific benefits is whoever services your loan. Even if I say “yes”, they may give you a different answer.

      And it sounds like you might be talking about two different things. On the one hand, you’re talking about Consolidation (which is the process of combining multiple loans into a single new loan), but you’re posting on the Government Employee Loan Forgiveness Program page.

      What are you trying to do? Consolidate? Qualify for loan forgiveness? I can’t really tell.

  25. Emery Veilleux says:

    Would it be possible to receive this loan forgiveness if you work for two of the qualifying jobs simultaneously 5 years?

    • Hi Emery,

      Are you saying that you work part time at two different agencies? If so, my understanding is that no, that will not work. You need to be working full time, at least 30 hours per week, at a qualifying institution/organization/etc.

  26. I am a firefighter and have been employed for almost 10 years. My wife has approx. 56,000 in student loans consolidated through direct loans. We’ve been making payments since 2007. She is a stay at home mom. Just wondering if we would qualify for any loan forgiveness as she is not employed by a public service entity.

    • Hey Brett,

      Sorry, but I don’t think you’d be able to use your service to get forgiveness on her debt, even though you guys are married.

      It’s totally unfair, because the Government wants to collect taxes on you as a joint entity, but won’t let you apply benefits to the debt as a joint entity.

      I guess technically, they think of this as being her debt, even if you’re the one making payments on it. It’s a raw deal, but that’s the way things work right now.

  27. Hi, I am a nurse who works for the VA. I have been a full time nurse since 12/2007 at the VA. I graduated in 2007 with an associate degree of nursing and continued to go to school and work full time while completing my bachelor degree of science in nursing. I have been repaying my student loans since 2010 in an extended graduated loan repayment plan. I owe around 57,000 which are consolidated under direct loans. Will those payments qualify under the public loan forgiveness program? I plan on changing the repayment program to a qualifying “pay as you earn” when it takes effect 12/2015. Will my previous payments combine with the new repayment plan and count towards the 10 year requirement for the Public loan forgiveness program?
    Thank you, Ali

    • Hi Ali,

      Were your loans made under one of the Federal student loan programs? If so, then you should be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, but you may also be eligible for one of the Nursing Loan Forgiveness Programs.

      Check them out at the links I posted above.

      To answer your question about previous payments, unfortunately it looks like you will not receive credit retroactively, but that’s not yet been fully determined.

      We won’t know exactly how Pay As You Earn will work for people who aren’t already eligible for it until President Obama and Congress set the rules for it (which is supposedly coming this year).

      You’re still absolutely eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Nursing Loan Forgiveness though, so make sure you look into those programs as they could save you tens of thousands of dollars.

      I’d specifically check out the NURSE Corps Loan Forgiveness Program – literally the most powerful loan forgiveness program on the planet!

  28. I have loans from a masters program running 2006 – 2010, and 2 years of doctoral degree 2011 – 2012. I moved to Florida, where my LICENSE was not accepted and have been struggling to keep food on the table for my family. I was recently hired by a health insurance company, but I’m a single mom and my income is so low I haven’t been able to make any payments. Do I qualify for loan forgiveness?

    • Hi Jissenia,

      I just saw this comment after replying to your other one – are your loans Federal or Privately funded? When were the loans taken out? How much do you owe, and how much are you currently making?

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