Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) encourages borrowers to go into public service or the nonprofit sector by forgiving their federal student loan balance after 120 eligible payments made while working full time with an eligible employer. To apply, you'll need to complete two forms: an Employment Certification (EC) form and a PSLF application.
The EC form lets you prove that you worked full time in an eligible job for the full 10 years. Your employer should complete this form to help you track your eligibility for forgiveness, as well as to document that you are still employed by an eligible employer at the time you apply for forgiveness. You can either send in the completed certification form each year to your loan servicer or you can keep it in your personal files—just don't lose it!
Once you have made 120 eligible payments for PSLF, you can complete the PSLF application and submit it to your loan servicer to determine your eligibility for forgiveness.
Non-defaulted loans made in the Direct Loan (DL) program are eligible. These include:
- Direct subsidized Stafford loans
- Direct unsubsidized Stafford loans
- Direct PLUS loans
- Direct Consolidation loans
Perkins loans and some health professions and nursing loans are also eligible if consolidated into the DL program.
Student loans in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) are not eligible for forgiveness unless you consolidate them into DL, and no payments made before the consolidation will count toward the 120 needed for forgiveness.
Defaulted loans can regain PSLF eligibility if they are consolidated out of default or rehabilitated.
You must make all payments while working full time at an eligible employer. Your 120 payments must be on time, full, and separate, as well as made on or after October 1, 2007, under one of the following repayment programs. (Any combination of payments under these programs would be eligible, and the payments do not need to be consecutive.)
- Income-based repayment (IBR)
- Income-contingent repayment (ICR)
- Pay As You Earn (PAYE) repayment
- Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) repayment
- Standard 10-year repayment
Keep in mind that the standard 10-year repayment schedule works by splitting your loan amount into 120 equal payments (or 12 payments per year for 10 years). You may not have a balance left to be forgiven if you make most of your 120 payments under the standard 10-year plan unless you make some reduced payments under IBR, ICR, PAYE, or REPAYE.
There is an exception for Peace Corps volunteers who receive a transition payment, AmeriCorps volunteers who received a Segal Education Award after a year of service, and Department of Defense student loan repayment assistance recipients. If you fit that criteria and used these payments or awards to make a lump-sum payment on your eligible loans, those payments will count toward PSLF. You can receive credit for up to 12 qualifying payments; the actual number will be determined by dividing your lump-sum payment by your scheduled full monthly payment amount, not to exceed 12 months.
Note: In March 2018, the president signed a budget bill that included $350 million for borrowers who made payments under a non-eligible repayment plan but otherwise qualify for PSLF. This is one-time funding, and forgiveness is first come, first served.
Forgiveness is employer specific, not job specific. So, anyone working for an eligible employer (from the CEO to the secretary) who meets all the other criteria is eligible. To qualify, the employer must be one of the following kinds of organizations:
- Tax-exempt nonprofits under 501(c)(3) or 501(a) of the IRS tax code
- Government, including federal, state, local, and tribal agencies, the military, and law enforcement
- Tribal colleges or universities
- Public child or family services agencies
- AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps
- A not-for-profit organization that provides one of the following public services:
- Public safety or emergency management
- Public service law
- Early childhood education
- Public service for individuals with disabilities and the elderly
- Public health
- Public education, including school-based educational services
- Public and school-based libraries
You cannot work for a labor union, partisan political organization, or an organization that provides religious instruction, worship services, or proselytizing. Being a member of a union is allowed.
What You'll Need
Your employer (and previous employers, if applicable) must complete the EC form(s) for the full 120 months of full-time service to track your eligibility for forgiveness. Your current employer must complete a PSLF application to prove you are still employed by an eligible organization when you apply for forgiveness.
Note: The EC form doesn’t have to be completed annually; however, it is ultimately up to you to prove that you worked full time in an eligible job for the full 10 years. Most employers will not keep employment records for more than a few years—so having your employer complete the EC form annually to record your full-time employment with an eligible employer is in your best interest.
Where To Send This Form
Submit this form to your servicer (the company that sends you the bills). If you don't know who that is, you can go to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS®) to find out.
Note: Your servicer may change after you file this form, because the U.S. Department of Education has assigned one servicer FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA) to work with all Public Service Loan Forgiveness candidates.