How Get Student Loan Forgiveness for Government Workers (Federal, State and Local Employees)
In 2019, one of the best ways to get rid of your Federal Student Loan Debt is to become a Government Employee, and use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to earn complete forgiveness for your loans.
Forgiveness is available to every single kind of “Government Employee”, including anyone working at the Federal, State or even Local level of Government, which means any sort of job where you are officially employed by “The Government” makes you eligible for the best Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Program on the market: PSLF.
This Guide explains everything you need to know about qualifying for and applying for PSLF, so be sure to pay close attention to everything I explain below!
But Before I Go Through The Details…
Let me first point out one simple fact: student loans aren’t actually all that difficult to deal with! The trick to getting a handle on them is in understanding that your Loan Servicer is working against your best interests, and to basically not trust anything that they say.
The best way to get your debt under control is to pay an expert to review your case, research the forgiveness, discharge, bankruptcy, deferment, forbearance or consolidation programs that you’re eligible for, then construct a plan for eliminating your loans as quickly and affordably as possible.
But you do need to be careful about who you trust to do this, because hiring the wrong company to help can cost you thousands of dollars in fees! The only company I trust to help my readers is the Student Loan Relief Helpline, who can review your case and provide you with the best strategy for dealing with your debt.
To get their help, you will need to pay, but it’s typically only a few hundred dollars and the savings these guys generate can literally be in the tens of thousands. Get your loans under control by calling the Student Loan Relief Helpline now at: 1-888-906-3065.
How to Qualify for Government Employee Student Loan Forgiveness via PSLF)
Not only is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program one of the easiest Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Programs to qualify for, but it’s also the fastest, most powerful and most lucrative benefit package currently on offer anywhere!
No other forgiveness program gets rid of debt as quickly, or as cheaply, as PSLF, so if you do happen to be a Government employee, then you’ve hit the jackpot and need to start taking advantage of these benefits right away.
Fortunately, the process of qualifying for PSLF forgiveness is also incredibly simple, as all it requires is working full-time for the Government, and making 10 years of full, on-time payments toward under one of the Income-Based Student Loan Repayment Plans.
Perhaps the only way to eliminate Federal loans faster would be qualifying for a Borrower’s Defense Discharge, a Federal Student Loan Bankruptcy Discharge, or a Closed School Loan Discharge, but the best thing about PSLF forgiveness is that in this case, you won’t even be taxed on the amount of money that you get forgiven!
That’s right – all those other student loan forgiveness programs lead to tax liabilities, whereas government workers who get their loans forgiven won’t owe the IRS a single penny.
The key to successfully earning your Government employee forgiveness benefits is to make sure that you start making qualifying payments right away so that you can start eating up that 10 year requirement as quickly as possible. And that’s exactly what this Guide will teach you to do.
What are the Official Eligibility Guidelines for PSLF?
There are four main conditions that you must satisfy in order to qualify for F, State or Local Government employee loan forgiveness benefits, including:
- 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 (delinquency is ok)
- You must make 120, full, on-time and scheduled monthly payments on your Direct Loan (note that only payments made after October 1st, 2007 count toward the required 120 payment threshold)
- You must make those 120 monthly payments while enrolled in a qualifying Federal Student Loan Repayment Plan, and only Income-Based Plans count at this point in time (more on that later)
- You must be and must have been working in a full-time position dedicating at least 30 hours per week in a qualifying public service organization (any Government position counts) at the time each of those 120 monthly payments were made
Now that may seem a little complicated, but in reality, this is one of the most straightforward loan forgiveness programs available, and it boils down to stating that anyone who’s got a Federal Direct Loan who works for a Government agency and makes payments on an Income-Based Repayment Plan will qualify for the benefit.
Literally millions of Americans fall into this category of people, as all sorts of jobs count as Government Work (“Public Service”), including roles like working for the Police, as a Firefighter, Park Ranger, in the Civil Service, at the DMV, Post Office, etc.
Now, let’s look at each of those four eligibility conditions mentioned above in a little bit more detail to make sure you fully understand whether or not you’re going to qualify for PSLF.
1. Which Types of Loans Qualify for PSLF?
Not all student loans are eligible for Government worker loan forgiveness benefits, and the first breakdown is that any Private student loans will not be able to be forgiven as part of this program. Unfortunately, ONLY Federal loans can be forgiven via PSLF.
If you do have Private debt, please see my Guide on Getting Help with Private Student Debt for a list of the options available to you on that front.
Now, with that said, even some Federal loans won’t count for PSLF, as only those loans issued under the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program are going to be eligible for Government employee forgiveness benefits.
That means FFEL Loans, Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans, Grad Plus Loans and any other Federal Student Loan will not qualify for forgiveness benefits unless you turn them into a Direct Consolidation Loan.
2. Which Payments Qualify for PSLF?
Remember, to earn the PSLF forgiveness benefit, you have to make at least 10 years worth of payments on your debt, but those ten years are broken down further by stating that you have to make 120 monthly payments.
But what types of monthly payments count? And what types don’t?
There’s three qualifying factors that determine whether or not any particular monthly payment will count toward your 120 payment threshold. They are:
- Payments Must be On Time
- Payments Must be In Full
- Payments Must be Scheduled
What does that mean? It means that any payments which are late, only include a portion of what you were supposed to pay, or which were not made per your repayment plan’s schedule will not count toward the 120 payment threshold.
Remember that all qualifying payments also have to be made under a qualifying repayment plan (more on that in a moment…), and that in combination with the three factors listed above, this is what prevents people from simply making a ton of small payments very quickly, and earning loan forgiveness.
There’s no way to fast-track the PSLF process; it will take AT LEAST ten years worth of making payments, assuming that 100% of those payments you made during that time were issued while you were employed in a qualifying role, and that each payment was made on time, in full, and per your qualifying repayment plan’s schedule.
But which repayment plans count as “Income-Based”? Let’s look at that next.
3. Which Repayment Plans Qualify for PSLF?
As I just mentioned, only Income-Based Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans qualify toward your 120 payment threshold, so what you need to do is first, figure out which plans count as “Income-Based”, and second, make sure that you’re enrolled in one those plans!
Which Federal repayment plans count as being “Income-Based”?
- The Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR)
- The Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE)
- The Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE)
- The Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR)
Payments made under any of the other Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans (like the Standard Repayment Plan or the Graduated Repayment Plan) will NOT count toward your 120 payment threshold for PSLF, so MAKE SURE that you get enrolled in an Income-Based Repayment Plan right away!
Many people make this simple mistake, fail to enroll in a qualifying plan, and end up costing themselves years’ worth of qualifying payments, which can literally translate to tens of thousands of dollars in additional debt! The sooner you get enrolled in an Income-Based Repayment Plan, the sooner you’ll earn your eventual forgiveness benefit, so make sure to do it TODAY if you haven’t already!
Before We Move On, Let’s Cover a Couple Quick Questions
1. How Do I Find Out What Repayment Plan I’m Currently On?
To find out which repayment plan you’re currently enrolled in, either contact whoever services your loans, or login at the US Government’s official website for Student Aid, here.
2. How Do I Change My Repayment Plan if I’m on the Wrong One?
Unfortunately, you can’t do this yourself, as to change your repayment plan, you’ll need to contact whoever services your loans and ask them to do that for you. This can be a huge pain as we all know how bad customer service hotlines can be, but so far the Federal Government has not yet made it possible to alter your repayment plan with the click of a button.
3. How Do I Find Out Who Services My Loans?
If you don’t know who services your loans, then login to the Student Aid website I linked to above (and again here), and look at at the name of the company listed as your loan servicer. Again, you’ll need to contact them in order to change your repayment pla
NOTE: In March, 2018, Congress and President Trump passed a $1.3 Trillion Spending Bill that included a ONE-TIME emergency fund of up to $350 Million to be allocated to people who were not on the right repayment plans, but who would otherwise have qualified for PSLF forgiveness benefits.
If you should have already qualified for PSLF because you met all the other eligibility requirements, but simply weren’t on the right repayment plan, then you need to try to take advantage of this opportunity, and you need to do it RIGHT NOW!
Why? Because this funding has been made available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so once enough people have applied for and received the funds, they’re going to be gone forever. Make sure you get your payment credits by contacting your loan servicer NOW to find out if this one-time allocation can help you!
4. What Jobs Count for PSLF?
This is the easiest part of the PSLF qualification process (usually) since you probably wouldn’t even be reading this page unless you were already a Government employee, or considering becoming one and researching the many benefits that this employment would provide to you.
Odds are pretty good that you’ll be able to figure this out on your own, but just in case, here’s how it works.
As I’ve mentioned several times in the content above, PSLF’s 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 (30 or more hours per week), each payment you make will count toward the 120 payments required to earn loan forgiveness.
If you don’t plan on working for a Government agency for 10 full years, then don’t give up quite yet, because some jobs in each 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, for the same type of organization, in the same line of work, or all at once.
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, assuming that all of the roles you held and all of the payments you made satisfied the eligibility conditions listed above.
PSLF is actually pretty flexible, thanks to the fact that so many jobs count as Government Employee or “Public Sector” work, and therefore qualify for the program.
Start Earning Eligibility Now or You Could be Left Out!
It’s incredibly important that you start taking advantage of this program now, because President Trump’s Student Loan Program will likely destroy it.
Why do I say that? Because President Trump and Betsy DeVos, his Secretary of Education, are outright hostile to PSLF, and have literally tried to kill it several times already. In fact, this has been one her top priorities ever since assuming her role in leading the Department of Education, even though it makes absolutely no sense considering that she’s supposed to be protecting the ordinary American student from excessive debt, but as the meme goes, that’s none of my business…
Either way, you’ll want to start accruing PSLF eligibility in the form of qualifying payments as soon as possible so that if they are successful in killing off the PSLF program, you’ll at least have a chance of being grandfathered through any legal changes instituted down the line, allowing you to retain your eligibility to receive the forgiveness benefit!
This may be the most important section on this entire page, so do not neglect to start working on all the pieces that allow you to start earning credits for monthly payments, because you’ll seriously regret it if the program disappears and you lose access to this incredible benefit.
What Else Do You Need to Do to Qualify for PSLF?
The worst part of the PSLF process is that each year, you have to certify your employment with the IRS to prove to the Department of Education that your monthly payments really should have counted, which allows them to keep track of when your 120 payment threshold is achieved.
To keep track of your progress, you’ll need to download the official Form called the “Government Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness” (which you can find here), which you should then fill out and submit to your loan servicer.
This process needs to be done each year, as I mentioned above, in order to ensure that your payments are counted toward the 120 payment threshold, and that you don’t experience any delays in receiving your Government employee loan forgiveness benefit once you’ve fully satisfied the requirements of the program.
The ECPSLF form I linked to above will guide you through the process of collecting the requirements for this process, including an employer’s certification of employment, and submitting the form will provide you with a confirmation that your employment qualifies for PSLF, and that your payments are counting as well.
Apparently, you’re not required to use this form, but my opinion is that it’ll help you stay organized, on the right path, and alert you to any issues you may run into with weird restrictions or eligibility failures down the line, so I highly suggest taking advantage of it.
If you choose not to use this form, then keep in mind that you’ll still need to submit a separate form for each employer you worked with when you complete the 120 required monthly payments, and that they will have to certify that you were working for them at least 30 hours per week while each of those qualifying payments were made, which could take forever if your company’s HR people aren’t really on the ball.
It’s a much safer, more efficient bet to use the form to certify your employment each year, instead of trying to get it all done at once after 10 years have passed.
Assuming that you’ve done everything correctly, all that you’ll need to do once that 120th payment is made is actually apply for PSLF forgiveness, which we’ll cover next.
How Do You Actually Apply for Government Employee Loan Forgiveness?
This doesn’t happen until the very end of the process, once you’ve made all your payments, and had everything certified by your employers.
Once you reach that point, you’ll need to download the official PSLF Application (find it here), fill it out, and submit it to your loan servicer.
Your loan servicer will review all the details, make sure everything was handled properly, then they talk to the Department of Education about actually cancelling the remaining balance of your loan.
One final thing – while your loan servicer and the Department of Education are verifying that you did everything correctly, make sure that you continue to work for the qualifying Government organization, otherwise they can cancel your approval at the last second!
Do not think that simply submitting your application will mean that you can now change jobs, leaving the public service space, and still receive your loan forgiveness – you shouldn’t leave your qualifying position until they’ve approved everything and your loan has literally disappeared from your account.
Will Your Government Employee Loan Forgiveness Benefits Lead to Tax Liabilities?
I mentioned it briefly above, but you do NOT have to pay taxes on the forgiveness benefits you receive under the PSLF program, and that’s an enormous additional benefit to participation.
Let’s use a quick example to illustrate why it matters – imagine you just got $100,000 in student loan debt forgiven.
If you had that debt forgiven under PSLF, you would owe $0 taxes on the amount forgiven.
If you had that debt forgiven under some other forgiveness benefit, like Borrower’s Defense to Repayment, then you’d have to claim that $100,000 as taxable income on your annual IRS tax return, and you’d be forced to pay income taxes on that amount.
Most people pay something like 20-30% in taxes, so that would mean you’d face a tax bill that year for $20,000 – $30,000, and it’d be due all at once, unlike your student loans, which are stretched out over a long period of time (10 years, 15 years, or whatever is set in your repayment plan).
That’s a big deal, because most people aren’t going to be able to come up with huge lump-sum payments after they’re already struggling to make small monthly payments on their student loans, and this is why I think we’re about to see the inflation of a massive tax debt bubble.
This is why I’ve created a new website, called Forget Tax Debt, where I offer tips, insights and advice on dealing with outstanding tax debt, just like I for student loans here.
If you’re worried about facing a tax crisis, or if you’re already having trouble with back taxes, then be sure to visit Forget Tax Debt, where I’ll teach you how to do things like Signing up for the IRS Fresh Start Program, Applying for IRS Tax Debt Forgiveness Benefits, and Negotiating a Tax Settlement with the IRS.
Hopefully you’ll be one of the lucky souls who fully qualifies for PSLF, is offered the forgiveness benefit and who doesn’t have to pay the IRS any money!
What If I Have Other Questions About Student Loans?
If you’re looking for answers to other questions about dealing with student loans, then you’re in luck, because I’ve developed a ton of Guides on all of the different elements of the process, covering each topic just as extensively as I did here.
If you need Help with Federal Student Debt, please visit my Guides on:
- Federal Student Loan Forgiveness
- Federal Student Loan Bankruptcy
- Federal Student Loan Consolidation
- Federal Student Loan Delinquency & Defaults
- Federal Student Loan Rehabilitation
- Federal Student Loan Wage Garnishments
- Federal Student Loan Deferments
- Federal Student Loan Forbearances
- Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans
And if you want Help with Private Student Debt, then you should definitely visit my Guides on:
- Private Student Loan Forgiveness
- Private Student Loan Consolidation
- Private Student Loan Bankruptcy
- Getting Out of Private Student Loan Default
- Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans – https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/understand/plans
- Income-Driven Repayment Plans – https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/understand/plans/income-driven
- Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Programs – https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation
- The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program – https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service
These Guides will cover everything you should know about handling your student loans skillfully, allowing you to wipe it out as quickly and affordably as possible!
If you have any other questions about government employee loan forgiveness benefits, or about student loans in general, then please feel free to ask them 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.
For additional information about government worker loan forgiveness, PSLF, or any of the other benefits packages and programs I mentioned here, please see the following links:
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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.