How To Get Student Loan Forgiveness for Government Workers (Federal, State & Local Gov’t Employees)

(Updated April 10th, 2019)

In 2019, one of the best ways to earn Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Benefits is to be a Government Employee and use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) to earn complete forgiveness for your loans in return for 10 years of qualifying work and payments.

Quick Links

Please review this Guide to Government Employee Loan Forgiveness, then if you have any questions about how the program works, or whether you qualify for it, leave me a Comment in the section at the bottom of this page and I’ll get you a response within 24 hours.



What is the Government Employee Loan Forgiveness Program?

Government Employee Workers at any level of Government and with any organization are able to earn complete forgiveness for Federal student loans via the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF), the official name of the Government Employee Employee Student Loan Forgiveness Program.

PSLF is by far the best Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Program around, because it offers total loan forgiveness benefits for 10 years of working in Public Service (as a Government Employee) and making income-based payments toward your student loans, no matter how much you actually owe after the 10 year period has expired.

To get loan forgiveness after 10 years, you’ll need to work full-time at a job that qualifies as a “Government Employee” and you’ll need to make your monthly student loan payments on-time, in-full, and according to the schedule of an Income-Driven Federal Student Loan Repayment Plan, but as long as you satisfy those simple requirements, your loans will be forgiven!


But Before I Explain How Government Employee Forgiveness Works…

Let me clue you in to a quick piece of advice – while the Government Employee Forgiveness Program does do an excellent job of getting rid of your student debt, it will take AT LEAST 10 years before you can qualify for the forgiveness benefit, so you will certainly want to look at alternative options for short-term financial relief.

If you're truly struggling with student debt, then you should also consider paying a Student Loan Debt Relief Agency for help. Why? Because the people working at these companies deal with student loans all day, every day, and they're your best chance at figuring out how to get your loans back under control.

I've interviewed all sorts of debt relief agencies over the past 10 years, talking to all sorts of so-called "experts", and I can tell you that in all honesty I've only found two companies I trust to offer actual financial relief to people struggling with student loans.

For help with FEDERAL Student Loans: Call the Student Loan Relief Helpline at 1-888-906-3065. They will review your case, evaluate your options for switching repayment plans, consolidating your loans, or pursuing forgiveness benefits, then set you up to get rid of the debt as quickly as possible.

For help with PRIVATE Student Loans: Call McCarthy Law PLC at 1-877-317-0455. They will negotiate with your lender to settle your private loans for much less than you owe (typically about 40% your total outstanding balance), then get you a new loan for the much lower, settled amount so you can pay off the old deb, repair your credit and start making much lower monthly payments. NOTE: McCarthy Law can ONLY help with Private student loans, so please do not call them if you only have Federal loans.

If you do decide to call one of these companies and you have a bad experience with either of them, PLEASE make sure to come back and let me know about it in the Comments!


How Does Government Employee Loan Forgiveness Work?

This is one of the simplest forgiveness programs around, because it only has three basic eligibility rules, and those rules are pretty easy to satisfy.

Core Eligibility Requirements

  • You must have an eligible loan (only Federal Direct Loans will qualify)
  • You must have an eligible job (only “Government Employee” jobs will qualify)
  • You must make 120 monthly student loan payments on an Income-Driven Repayment Pla

After you’ve satisfied these three requirements, you’re able to apply for the discharge and will receive total and complete student loan forgiveness, and you won’t even be charged any taxes on the forgiveness amount by the IRS (which happens with virtually all other forms of forgiveness…).

Now, that is a pretty basic overview of the program, and there are definitely additional details you need to know about, but I’ll explain all of those in the rest of this Guide, so pay close attention as it’ll help you decide if PSLF is right for you, or if you should be looking elsewhere for forgivenness.


What Loans Qualify for Government Employee Forgiveness?

ONLY Federal Direct Loans qualify for the PSLF, so you’ll have to have one (or more) of the following types of loans to pursue Government Employee forgiveness benefits under the Public Service program.

Qualifying Loans

  • Federal Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Federal Direct Grad PLUS Loans
  • Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans
  • Direct Consolidation Loans

Any other types of loans, including Private Student Loans and Federal Loans made under the old Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL Loans) will not count for PSLF, so you won’t be able to get rid of those for Government work.

HOWEVER, If you can turn your other loans into a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan, then that new Direct Consolidation Loan WILL BE eligible for PSLF, and your Government Work WILL qualify you for having it discharged.


What Jobs Qualify for Government Employee Forgiveness?

You have to be working for the Government Full-Time, which means at least 30 hours per week, in a “Public Service” role, but the great thing about this program is that the definition of Government Work is quite loose, so tons of different jobs are going to qualify you for PSLF benefits.

Qualifying Jobs

  • ANY job at ANY level of the Government, including Federal, State and Local Government jobs, including:
  • Jobs in Emergency Management, Public Safety and Law Enforcement, or the Military
  • Jobs in Public Health Services, Public Service for People with Disabilities and the Elderly
  • Jobs in Public Education, Public Libraries or other School-Based Services
  • Jobs in ANYTHING ELSE where you can prove that you’re technically a “Government Employee”

The easiest way to qualify is obviously to have a job directly with the Government, like working for the DMV, or as a member of Congress, or in the Local Government Capital Building, but there are SO many jobs that qualify you as a “Government Employee”, from things like Military Personnel to Police Offiers to Fire Fighters to Park Rangers, that the options are nearly limitless.

My suggestion to find out if your job qualifies is to contact whoever is in charge of HR, and simply ask them – “Does my job count for Public Service Loan Forgiveness?” It’s their job to understand these benefits and inform you whether or not you can utilize them, so put the onus on them!

Finally, one other thing you should do to ensure that your job does in fact qualify for PSLF is to send in an annual Employment Certification Form that allows the Department of Education to review your position and state clearly whether or not you are eligible.

For details on how to do this, visit my Guide to Certifying Employment for PSLF.



What Payments Qualify for Government Employee Forgiveness?

Remember, you have to be enrolled in one of the Income-Driven Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans for your payments to count towards Government Employee forgiveness, so you will need to be using one of the following plans to pay back your loans.

Qualifying Repayment Plans

  • The Pay As You Earn Plan (PAYE)
  • The Revised Pay As You Earn Plan (REPAYE)
  • The Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR)
  • The Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR)

Only payments you made while enrolled in one of these plans will count towards that 120 payment threshold (10 years worth of payments required to complete the program), and those payments must be made while you’re also working in that qualifying job we just discussed above.

However, even though Donald Trump may be the enemy to student loan forgiveness benefits, he did do one really nice thing for borrowers, which was to pass a law creating a program called Temporary Expanded PSLF (TPSLF), which lets people qualify for PSLF forgiveness if they satisfied ALL THE OTHER REQUIREMENTS of PSLF, but weren’t enrolled in the right repayment plan.

To find out if you can use the TPSLF Program to get forgiveness, look at my Guide to the Temporary Expanded PSLF Program.

And finally, there’s four other rules that determine qualifying payments, each of which you’ll need to satisfy for any payment to count toward the 120 payment threshold, which are:

Qualifying Payments Must Have Been

  • Made After October 1st, 2017
  • On-Time
  • In-Full
  • Scheduled

These are pretty easy to satisfy, however, because it just means that only on-time, in-full, and monthly payments made after October 1st, 2007 will count toward the 120 threshold. As long as you were enrolled in an IDR Repayment Plan, and following the plan, your payments should count.



How To Apply for Government Employee Forgiveness

The one quirk with this program is that you don’t apply for it until you’ve fully satisfied all the eligibility conditions, meaning you’ve worked for the required 10 years in a Governemnt Employee role, and made the 10 years worth of qualifying IDR payments during that time period.

But, don’t forget that you should be Certifying your Employment each year along the way, as this will help ensure you don’t screw anything up, and that when it comes time for the Department of Education to review your application, they’ll be able to fast-track it since they’d already completed all their annual reviews.

When you do make that 120th qualifying payment, then you’ll need to fill out the official PSLF Application, which you can download here, and which you’ll submit along with your Employer’s Certification to FedLoan Servicing, who handles all PSLF applications for the Department of Education.

You can submit the paperwork to FedLoan in three different ways, using whatever is most convenient for you.

To Mail Your PSLF Application, Send It To:

  • U.S. Department of Education
  • FedLoan Servicing
  • P.O. Box 69184
  • Harrisburg, PA 17106-9184

To Fax Your Application, Send It To:

  • 717-720-1628

To Upload Your Application, Go Here:

  • https://myfedloan.org/borrowers/special-programs/pslf/pslf-completing-ecf

Are Government Employee Loan Forgiveness Applications Actually Being Approved?

In a report from LA Times on April 3rd, 2019, we found out that PSLF Applications are not getting approved at the rate they should be, with the Department of Education doing everything they can to prevent approvals form being issued.

In fact, out of the tens of thousands of PSLF Applications that have been submitted, less than 300 of them have been approved!

I know at least 300 people who’ve visited this website and submitted details to me that SHOULD have qualified them for a PSLF approval, so I can tell you that this is definitely an issue with the Department of Education, and probably guided by Betsy DeVos.

The fact that fewer than 300 people have received PSLF benefits is an outrage, especially in light of the Congressionally approved Temporary Expanded PSLF Program, which added $700,000,000 in funding for the program, and which should have opened PSLF up to THOUSANDS of Americans who simply weren’t enrolled in the right Federal Repayment Plan, but who otherwise should have qualified fo rthe benefit.

On the bright side, Democrats in Congress are going to the Media about this and protesting heavily, and even some high-profile Senators like Tim Kaine of Virginia is piping up to talk about how the Department of Educatio isn’t living up to it’s responsibilities.

Personally, I think we need to see President Trump replaced before anything actually changes though, because he’s the one responsible for Betsy DeVos running the Department of Education, and she’s the one who has been trying to stop all forms of Federal Forgiveness from being approved, including both PSLF and the Borrower’s Defense to Repayment Program.


Should I Apply for Government Employee Forgiveness?

Even though approvals aren’t being distributed like they should be, I still think it’s worth pursuing and applying for PSLF Forgiveness as soon as you’ve satisfied the eligibility requirements of the program.

Why? Because eventually the promise that the Federal Government made to Public Service workers will be fulfilled – eventually a Democratic President will be elected, and eventually someone sane will be put back in charge of the Department of Education.

Even if you don’t qualify for PSLF, my advice is to change jobs and find a role that WILL allow you to qualify for the benefit, because this is the single most powerful Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Program that exists.

In fact, it’s even possible to get total PSLF forgiveness without ever paying a single cent on your loans, because you COULD qualify for a $0 monthly payment under one of the IDR Repayment Plans, and even those $0 payments still count towards the 120 payment threshold.



What Other Student Loan Relief Programs Should I Explore?

If you’re not able to qualify for Government Employee Loan Forgiveness Benefits via PSLF, then don’t worry, because there are tons of other excellent forviveness, discharge and relief programs that you may still be able to utilize.

My website contains over 100 Guides offering advice on how to take advantage of Federal and Private student loan relief programs, so the good news is that you’ve come to the right place if you want to find out how to get rid of your debt.

For details on getting Help with Federal Student Loans, start with my Guides on:

Federal Student Loan Relief Programs


Alternatively, if you need Help with Private Student Loans, you should start with my Guides on:

Private Student Loan Relief Programs

I’ve spoken with thousands of student loan borrowers over the past decade of offering advice, and I’m nearly certain that you’ll be able to find SOMETHING that helps reduce your debt, so don’t give up without spending some time researching the benefits outlined above because you’re virtually guaranteed to find a way to save some money.

If you need help sorting out which programs you may be eligible for, please leave a Comment at the bottom of this page, making sure to tell me if you have Federal or Private loans, and giving me some details about which programs you’re considering, what you do for a living, etc.

I’ll get you a response with my advice within 24 hours of posting!



Finally, Please Help Me Out!

I’m not kidding when I say that running this site is like having a second full-time job. I spend all my time not at work researching new student loan benefits programs, watching the news, looking at legal changes, and updating or writing new Guides for this site.

And I can only keep doing this if you help me spread the word that this site exists! I’ve done well to rank at or near the top of Google’s results for years, but some big brands and huge businesses are moving into the space, pushing propaganda instead of advice, and hurting people’s chances of getting effective debt relief.

If this Guide helped you, then please consider giving back to me and the wider student loan borrowing community by sharing a link to my site on your Social Media pages, via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or anywhere else that you participate, like Reddit, old school Forums, or school-based community groups.

The more people who visit FSLD, the more time I can dedicated to writing Guides like this, and helping people like you.

Thank you for your support!



References

As you can imagine, building these Guides is no easy task, and I have to compile information from all around the web to put together an all-encompassing explanation of how these programs work.

For this Guide, here are some of the most important resources I used to construct the content.


Disclaimer:Information obtained from Forget Student Loan Debt is for educational purposes only. You should consult a licensed financial professional before making any financial decisions. This site receives some compensation through affiliate relationships. This site is not endorsed or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education.

By: 

Tim's experience struggling with crushing student loan debt led him to create the website Forget Student Loan Debt in 2011, where he offers advice, tips and tricks for paying off student loans as quickly and affordably as possible.