How to Get Federal Student Loan Forgiveness for Non-Profit Employees

UPDATED March 28th, 2020

The Non Profit Student Loan Forgiveness Program offers complete Federal Student Loan Forgiveness benefits for all Full-Time 501(c)(3) Non Profit Employees via the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF).

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This is one of the fastest, most effective loan forgiveness programs in existence, and one that you should absolutely utilize if you can.

In this Guide, I’ll explain all the rules of the Non Profit Loan Forgiveness Program, including who qualifies and how to actually apply for the benefit.

After reading this Guide, if you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the Comments section below and I’ll do my best to reply within 24 hours!

What is the Non Profit Loan Forgiveness Program?

Non-Profit Workers from all 501(c)(3) organizations are able to receive complete Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Benefits via the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF), the official name of the Non Profit Employee Student Loan Forgiveness Program.

PSLF remains the absolute best Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Program on offer, providing total loan forgiveness benefits in return for just 10 years of qualifying work and payments, no matter how much you still owe at the end of that 10 year period.

To receive loan forgiveness at the 10 year mark, all you need to do is work for a qualifying non profit organization – any 501(c)(3) will count – for at least 30 hours per week, and make your monthly student loan payments in-full, on-time, and under one of the excellent Income-Driven Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans.

But Before I Delve Into the Details…

Let me offer you one bit of helpful advice – it will take at least 10 years to get debt relief via the Non-Profit Student Loan Forgiveness Program, so you may want to look into alternative options before deciding that this is your best option.

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, then get you a new loan for the much lower, settled amount. NOTE: McCarthy Law can ONLY help with Private student 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 Non Profit Loan Forgiveness Work?

This is a pretty simple forgiveness program with three basic eligibility conditions that you’ll need to satisfy.

Core Eligibility Requirements:

  • Have an eligible loan (only Federal Direct Loans qualify for PSLF benefits)
  • Have an eligible job (only “Public Service” jobs qualify for PSLF benefits)
  • Make 120 monthly student loan payments on an Income-Driven Repayment Plan

Once you’ve satisfied these requirements, you’ll receive a complete discharge on your eligible Federal student loans, meaning that your student loan debt will be cancelled entirely, and you won’t be charged any taxes either, which is extremely rare for loan forgiveness programs.

Keep in mind that there are some smaller, qualifying details about who qualifies for PSLF, but I’ll go through those in the sections below to make sure you fully understand whether or not you should be applying for this program, or looking for an alternative solution.

What Loans Qualify for Non Profit Forgiveness?

ONLY Federal Direct Loans qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, so you’ll have to have one of the following types of loans:

Qualifying Loans

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

If you have any other type of loan, including loans offered under the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFEL Loans), or Private Student Loans, then you will not be able to use PSLF to get rid of your loans for Non Profit work.

NOTE: If you’re able to Consolidate Your Federal Student Loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan, then that new Direct Consolidation Loan would be eligible for PSLF, so you may want to try that route.

What Jobs Qualify for Non Profit Forgiveness?

ONLY Full-Time (30+ hours per week) “Public Service” jobs qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, but the nice thing is that MANY different types of jobs technically count as Public Service, including:

Qualifying Jobs

  • ANY job at a Non Profit or Not-for-Profit Organization that is tax-exempt per IRS 501(c)(3) rules
  • ANY job at as a Government Employee at any level, including roles at the Federal, State or Local Government level
  • SOME Non jobs at a Non Profit or Not-for-Profit Organization that is not tax-exempt, but which states it’s primary objective is to offer certain public service benefits (this takes some research)

Working for a 501(c)(3) is the easiest way to determine eligibility, but remember that since ALL Government Jobs count, tons of other jobs work too, like: Military Personnel, Police Officers, Fire Fighters, Park Rangers, anyone working for or at Federal Facilities, etc.

Other jobs that qualify for PSLF include jobs in Emergency Management, Public Safety and Law Enforcement, jobs with Public Health Services, Public Education, Public Libraries and School-Based Services, as well as jobs with Public Interest Legal Services, Early Childhood Education, Public Service for people with Disabilities and the Elderly.

To make sure that your job qualifies for PSLF, the Department of Education recommends sending in an annual Employment Certification Form which will allow them to review your position and tell you clearly if you’re on the right path toward receiving forgiveness.

For details on how this process works, visit my Guide on Employment Certification for PSLF.

What Payments Qualify for Non Profit Forgiveness?

ONLY payments made under one of the Federal Income-Driven Student Loan Repayment Plans count for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, so you need to make sure that you’re enrolled in one of the following repayment plans:

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)

Remember, ONLY those payments made while you’re enrolled in one of these programs are going to count toward the 120 payment threshold (10 years worth of payments).

There is one temporary one saving grace in that the Federal Government passed a new rule called Temporary Expanded PSLF which allows you to qualify for forgiveness if you satisfy ALL THE OTHER REQUIREMENTS of PSLF, but were simply enrolled in a non-qualifying repayment plan.

For details on how this works, please visit my Guide to the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

Finally, there are four other important rules about qualifying payments, which are:

Qualifying Payments Must Have Been

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

These additional stipulations mean that the only payments which count toward the 120 threshold will be those made after October 1st, 2007, per the schedule of your IDR Repayment Plan (monthly), in full (not partial) and on time (not late).

How To Apply for Non Profit Forgiveness

You don’t apply for PSLF until you’ve fully satisfied the conditions of the program (made the 10 years or 120 payments required to receive forgiveness), BUT, as I mentioned above, you should be “Certifying” your Employment each year, as this can speed up the process of getting an approval once you’ve made the 120th payment.

Once you complete the 120th payment, fill out the PSLF Application, which you can find here and submit the paperwork along with your Employer’s Certification to FedLoan Servicing, the official Federal Government Loan Servicer for the PSLF Program.

You can Mail in your PSLF Application, Fax it, or Upload it via their website.

To Mail Your Form, 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:


Is the Non-Profit Loan Forgiveness Program Going Away?

It’s been reported that President Trump’s administration plans to get rid of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program completely, as they’ve suggested canceling the benefit three times.

During a Senate hearing in March 2020, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said “Our proposal is to sunset the public service loan forgiveness program”, a program that she’s been attempting to destroy by denying applications as often as possible ever since she took office.

The plan she proposed would allow anyone who borrowed Federal student loans before July 1st, 2021 to continue to utilize the program, but would then use that date as the cutoff point so that future borrowers simply cannot access the benefits package.

Instead, she seeks to place ALL borrowers on a single Income-Driven Repayment Plan, which would calculate monthly payments based on income, and offer loan forgiveness after 15 years of repayments had been made (currently, PSLF offers it at 10 years, while standard loans provide it at 25 years).

The new IDR plan they’re proposing using will also set payments at 12.5% of discretionary income, whereas the existing plans allow it to be set at 10%, meaning that monthly payments for the new program would increase compared to where they are under the current system.

What To Do If You Were Rejected Because of Payments Made Under a Plan That Didn’t Qualify for PSLF

If you’re one of the unlucky people who has had your application for Non Profit Forgiveness rejected because some of your payments were made under a repayment plan that wasn’t eligible for the program, then make sure to listen closely to these instructions!

You need to look at the Consolidated Appropriates Act, 2018, which offers funding to help cover costs and allow borrowers who were enrolled in the wrong repayment plan to receive Non Profit Loan Forgiveness credits anyway.

This program is also referred to as the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (or TEPSLF), and it’s one of the most powerful forgiveness benefits that’s been introduced over the past decade.

To find out if you qualify for TEPSLF, make sure to contact your loan servicing company and request to have your application reconsidered as part of this program!

If you don’t know who your loan servicer is, view my Guide on Federal Student Loan Servicing Companies to learn how to figure that out.

Are Non Profit Loan Forgiveness Applications Actually Being Approved?

As of an April 3rd, 2019, report from the LA Times, the number of approvals for PSLF Applications looks pretty disheartening. This report noted that while tens of thousands of Americans have applied for PSLF, fewer than 300 have had their Applications approved.

I can tell you from my decade of following this space that WAY MORE of those Applications should be making it through the Department of Educations approval process, especially after Temporary Expanded PSLF earmarked $700,000,000 ($700 Million) in additional funds.

The good news is that Congress is finally starting to make some noise about this issue, with high-profile members like Senator Time Kaine from Virginia offering all sorts of commentary indicating that the Department of Education needs to get its act together.

I am slightly skeptical, however, that we’ll see much progress on this front until President Trump is defeated and his Education Department Secretary, Betsy DeVos, is removed from her post. She is completely against the spirit of the PSLF Program, doesn’t want to offer loan forgiveness to anyone – let alone non profit workers – and has basically stopped this and other benefits programs (notably, Borrower’s Defense to Repayment) dead in their tracks.

Should I Apply for Non Profit Forgiveness?

If you satisfy the eligibility conditions of PSLF, then you should absolutely apply for forgiveness.

In fact, even if you don’t qualify for the program, I would highly advise considering changing jobs in order to gain access to these benefits, because they’re the fastest, cheapest way to get rid of your Federal student loans without paying for them.

It’s even possible to qualify for complete forgiveness via PSLF without paying a single penny toward your debt, since monthly payments are based on income, some people qualify for $0 monthly payments, and even $0 payments will still count toward your required 120 payment threshold.

If you’re having trouble affording Federal student loans, there’s no more powerful program than PSLF. To put it as clearly as possible, you should definitely be working toward earning these benefits!

What Other Student Loan Relief Programs Should I Explore?

If you don’t qualify for Non Profit Loan Forgiveness, then don’t fret, because you may still be eligible for all sorts of other forgiveness, discharge or relief benefits.

There are currently tons of programs available for both Federal and Private loan holders, and my website contains over 100 Guides containing advice on utilizing these benefits packages, so the good news is that you’re in the right place for learning to deal with your debt!

To find out how to get Help with Federal Student Loans, you’ll want to look at my Guides on:

Federal Student Loan Relief Programs

And for details on getting Help with Private Student Loans, you’ll want to review my Guides on:

Private Student Loan Relief Programs

You’re almost certain to find some form of financial relief from one of the programs listed above, but to streamline the process, feel free to ask questions about which programs you may qualify for in the Comments section below.

Just make sure to tell what types of loans you have (Federal vs Private) as well as some background details about yourself, including what your job is, and anything else that you think may be relevant to determining what benefits you can access.

Finally, Please Help Me Out!

Running this website is basically like having a second full-time job. I spend hours each day researching new benefits programs, watching the news, updating and writing new content.

But I can only continue to allocate that kind of time to this site if you help me out by spreading the word about it’s existence!

If the content you found at FSLD helped you, then please consider doing your part to keep things going by sharing a link to this site via Social Media, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or elsewhere, or by posting it to a Forum you frequent (like Reddit), or even by simply emailing it to people you know it could help.

The more people who visit, the more time I can spend producing Guides just like this one, and helping people just like you.

Thank you for your support!


I’ve had to cobble together information from all over the web to build this Guide, including using details from all of the following URLs:

  • The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (Official Page from StudentAid.ed.Gov) –
  • Education Department Rejects Nearly All Applicants for PSLF (LA Times) –
  • Could Your Student Loans Get Forgiven? (Time Magazine Online) –
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (National Council of NonProfits) –
  • PSLF: Employer Toolkit (CalNonprofits) –
  • Student Loan Forgiveness Program Rejects 99% of Applications (Forbes) –
  • The Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness Rescue Hasn’t Gone Well So Far (NY Times) –

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.


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.