Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is one of the best-kept secrets of federal student loans. This program provides for complete forgiveness of remaining federal student loan debt after 10 years of qualifying payments (payments applied to Direct federal loans under the IBR, ICR, or Standard repayment plans) if you work for any level of government or a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It is a *huge* incentive for borrowers with high student loan debt burdens to enter public service.
One of the problems with this program, however, was that there was no way for borrowers to officially keep track of their public service employment (the program does not require 10 consecutive years of public service- just 10 years in total). Since the earliest any borrower will be eligible for forgiveness is around the year 2017, we were all left wondering how borrowers were going to prove that they actually worked in public service.
Well, great news. The Department of Education has just released three brand-new forms to help borrowers apply for PSLF. A big thank-you to my friend and colleague, Heather Jarvis, for posting these forms on her website. Here are the three forms:
- Letter to Borrowers explaining the process
- Employment Certification Form
- Instructions for completing the Certification Form
One of the exciting things about the Employment Certification form is you do not need to wait until the end of the 10-year period to send this in. You can complete and send in the form as you complete your public service work, and the Department of Education will keep it on file. I recommend you send this in once each year if you’re working in a public service job, and also whenever you change to a different public service job. Be sure to make a copy of the completed form for your own records (the Department of Education is notorious for “not receiving” things).