Important Information regarding Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The U.S. Department of Education has guided on December 7, 2021 that we share the following specific statements with you about the temporary Public Service Loan Forgiveness waiver program. This content reflects what they provided on that date but you should inquire with the Department if there are any factual updates as we may not be provided regular updates. The information is as follows:

  • The loans we service do not currently qualify for PSLF or TEPSLF, but your prior periods of repayment may qualify for credit toward PSLF or TEPSLF if you receive or apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan on or before October 31, 2022;
  • Regardless of the limited PSLF waiver, your loans must be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan program in order to qualify for PSLF or TEPSLF; but that prior periods of repayment will not qualify for credit toward PSLF or TEPSLF if consolidated after October 31, 2022;
  • To understand whether you may already have qualifying payments for PSLF under the limited PSLF waiver, you should register for an FSA ID if you don’t already have one, and log in to the PSLF Help Tool to check if your employer qualifies (I would remind you that you will need your employer’s Federal Employer Identification Number and that you should confirm you have the correct number by checking your IRS Form W-2);
  • If your employer is a qualifying employer or if you are uncertain but want your loans to qualify for PSLF, TEPSLF, and the limited PSLF waiver, you should apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan on or before October 31, 2022 (and you should review your account to understand the pros and cons of loan consolidation for you in the case of your employer eligibility uncertainty – we will only provide the benefits you have today and will no longer be offered and you should ask the Department of Education the benefits they may and will offer which may or may not be similar);
  • If you apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan, we will work to process any paperwork necessary to have your loans consolidated expediently; and
  • After your consolidation loan is made, you should go back to the PSLF Help Tool to certify all periods of qualifying employment.
If you have additional questions about the U.S. Department of Education’s PSLF waiver program, you should contact them at 1-800-4-FEDAID. However, we have been told and asked to inform you that this call center is not equipped to inform you about how the waiver will or will not affect you individually.

Additional Details

On Oct. 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced a set of changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program which will be implemented in phases over the next year. These changes to the program are intended to help PSLF reach a broader audience of qualified borrowers. Some changes are time-limited and will require action by some borrowers. From Oct. 6, 2021, through Oct. 31, 2022:

  • Borrowers may receive credit for past periods of repayment on federal student loans that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF. Under this limited PSLF waiver, periods of repayment on Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans, Perkins Loans, and Direct Loans made to student borrowers will count toward PSLF forgiveness.
  • The limited waiver does not make any changes to the public service employment requirements or what counts as qualifying employment.
To opt into the limited PSLF waiver, borrowers must do two things:

  • Have or get Direct Loans by consolidating loans made under other loan programs into a Direct Consolidation Loan, which you must have applied for by Oct. 31, 2022; and
  • Have submitted a PSLF form to FedLoan Servicing or have used the PSLF Help Tool to generate a PSLF form by Oct. 31, 2022, so long as that form is later approved by FedLoan Servicing.
It is important to understand that the limited PSLF waiver does not actually count payments made on loans; instead, it counts periods of time when a borrower was in an “In Repayment” status (and thus not in default, deferment, or forbearance) and generally obligated to make a payment, even if the payment was not made in the full amount due, on a qualifying repayment plan, or on-time. This information has long been maintained in FSA data systems. Therefore, we will not be asking borrowers or lenders or servicers for any repayment histories, and borrowers should not need to request such histories from servicers prior to consolidating.

With regard to Parent PLUS Loans—such loans will not be directly evaluated for credit under the limited PSLF waiver, regardless of whether such a loan was made under the Direct Loan or FFEL Program. Here is a brief example:
A borrower was in repayment on a FFEL Parent PLUS Loan from January 2012 through December 2015 and on a FFEL Subsidized Stafford Loan from January 2010 through December 2015. The borrower consolidated both loans in December 2015. While the repayment status history on the FFEL Parent PLUS Loan will not be considered, the repayment status on the FFEL Subsidized Stafford Loan will be considered, and the entire Direct Consolidation Loan made in December 2015 would receive credit under the limited PSLF waiver for the period of January 2010 through December 2015. However, if the same borrower only had the FFEL Parent PLUS Loan and consolidated it, the borrower would receive no credit under the limited PSLF waiver.

Also, to be implemented within the next year:

  • Automatically providing credit toward PSLF for military servicemembers and federal employees using federal data matches;
  • Allowing active duty servicemembers to count deferments and forbearances toward PSLF; and
  • Reviewing denied PSLF applications for errors and giving borrowers the ability to have their PSLF determinations reconsidered.
Beyond these items, ED is continuing to move forward with improving outreach and communication to PSLF and PSLF-eligible borrowers, simplifying the PSLF application process, and making long-term improvements to PSLF through the negotiated rulemaking process. The following communications are currently available:

Further, if you are seeking information about PSLF, TEPSLF, or the limited PSLF waiver we point you to resources put out by Federal Student Aid or the Department the resources currently available are below:

You may also contact 1-800-4-FEDAID if you have additional questions about the limited PSLF waiver. However, we inform you that we have been guided that this call center is not equipped to inform a borrower about how the waiver will or will not affect them individually.

The U.S. Department of Education has provided some initial questions and answers which are below:

I’m a borrower in the PSLF Program, is there any action I need to take regarding this announcement?
To be “in the PSLF Program” means that you have Direct Loans and qualifying employment for PSLF. If that is the case, you are already opted into the waiver and there is no action that you need to take currently. FSA will work with the current PSLF servicer, FedLoan Servicing, to review your account, update any payment counts, correct any errors, and consider/reconsider any forgiveness that may result. If any additional information is required, you will be contacted either by FSA or FedLoan Servicing.

I’m a borrower who would benefit from these temporary changes and need to consolidate my FFEL or Perkins loans. What steps do I need to take?
Verify your loan types with Aid Summary

  • You can see what loans you have by logging in to your account on StudentAid.gov, going to the My Aid page (https://studentaid.gov/aid-summary/), and scrolling down to the Loan Breakdown section.
  • There, you’ll see a list of each loan you have borrowed, even if you have paid the loan off or consolidated it into a new loan. Direct Loans begin with the word “Direct,” Federal Family Education Loan Program loans start with “FFEL,” and Perkins Loans include the word “Perkins” in the name.
  • Now that you know what type of loans you have, read on to see what actions you may need to take to receive additional qualifying payments.
Verify eligible employment with the PSLF Help Tool Step 1, Employment History

  • Log into the PSLF Help Tool with your FSA ID: https://studentaid.gov/pslf/
  • In the Employment History Section, you can check your employer’s eligibility by searching for your employer by Federal Employer Identification Number (only enter the number that appears on your IRS Form W-2).
If your employer is eligible, request a Loan Consolidation by Oct. 31, 2022

Submit a PSLF Form with the PSLF Help Tool by Oct. 31, 2022

Where can I find more information on this announcement?
Details on this announcement are available on StudentAid.gov/pslfwaiver.

How soon can I expect to start seeing the benefits of this announcement on my account?
The Department is working with the PSLF Servicer to review and update borrower accounts. Please note that it may take several months to complete processing for these changes and for account updates to reflect an increased number of PSLF payment counts.

I understand that FedLoan Servicing will soon no longer be the PSLF servicer. Will this transition have any impact on these benefits?
FSA will be working side by side with FedLoan Servicing as borrowers participating in the PSLF Program are transferred to a new servicer and these benefits will apply whether your loans are with FedLoan Servicing or the new servicer.

I am a borrower pursuing TEPSLF. Does this waiver apply to me?
Yes.

I have already received forgiveness under PSLF or TEPSLF. (Or I have repaid my loans but could now retroactively qualify). Does this waiver apply to me? Will I receive a refund?
Borrowers who have already received forgiveness or who paid off their loans will not be reconsidered under the waiver. They will also not receive a refund.

If the number of qualifying payments on my account are updated using the waiver and it is determined that I have exceeded the 120 payments needed for forgiveness, will I receive a refund?
Some borrowers who are determined to have made payments in excess of 120 on a Direct Loan or a Direct Consolidation Loan will receive refunds. More information will be provided on this as implementation continues.

Which period of time is under consideration for the limited PSLF waiver?
You can only receive credit for periods of time after Oct. 1, 2007, since that is when the PSLF program began. For Direct Loans, periods of repayment prior to Oct. 1, 2021, will be reviewed. For Direct Consolidation Loans, periods of repayment on the loans that you consolidated will be considered if the borrower submits a consolidation application by Oct. 31. 2022.

Do I need to do anything right now?
If you have not certified employment for all of your qualifying repayment periods, you should do so now. If you have FFEL or Perkins loans and you have qualifying employment, you must submit a consolidation application by Oct. 31, 2022.

How do I figure out if my past or current employer qualifies for PSLF?
You can use the PSLF Help Tool to access the employer database, which provides information on which employers meet PSLF program requirements. Remember, as of right now, borrowers who do not have any Direct Loans cannot complete a form using the PSLF Help Tool and it has not been updated to reflect the waiver or the COVID-19 forbearance, but they can still search the employer database. It will be updated soon. When searching the database, remember to get your Employer Identification Number only from your IRS Form W-2.

How can I figure out which payments now qualify for PSLF under this limited-time opportunity?
If you have previously filed a PSLF form, you will be able see which of your previous periods of repayment are eligible under this limited PSLF waiver by logging into your account with FedLoan Servicing in the coming months. Please remember that implementation of the waiver will take several months so you may not see an update for some time. If you have never filed a PSLF form, you need to do so by Oct. 31, 2022, to see what payments qualify under this limited-time opportunity.

How can I tell if I have already submitted an Employer Certification form (ECF) or PSLF form?
If you are assigned to FedLoan Servicing, you can log in to your account to see your progress toward PSLF so far. In most cases, if you have a loan servicer other than FedLoan Servicing, you have not had an ECF or PSLF form approved. I think there is a mistake with my payment count.

Who should I contact?
Please remember that implementation of the waiver will take several months so you may not see an update with your payment counts for some time. After your payment counts are updated, if you still think there is a mistake, you should contact FedLoan Servicing about discrepancies you may see in your payment counts.

I’m seeing information on your website and the Department’s website that still says that consolidation will cause me to start over again for PSLF, but you’re saying the waiver means that’s not the case. How do I know what to believe?
We assure you that the waiver is real, and that we and the Department are working to ensure that all of our tools, letters, and website content is updated as quickly as possible. Right now, and through Oct. 31, 2022, consolidating your loans will not cause you to lose credit for PSLF and may allow you to gain credit towards PSLF.

I was contacted by someone who offered to help me figure all this out for a fee. Are they related to you?
No. You never have to pay to get help with your student loans. Companies offering you “help” with your student loans are often more interested in taking your money than helping you navigate your student loans, and have no affiliation with the Department, Federal Student Aid, or us. Remember—if you are asked to pay, walk away.

You may also contact 1-800-4-FEDAID if you have additional questions about the limited PSLF waiver. However, we inform you that we have been guided that this call center is not equipped to inform a borrower about how the waiver will or will not affect them individually.

As of 12-21-2021