Public Service Loan ForgivenessPSLF Overview
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program was established to encourage individuals to enter and continue in full-time public service employment. The program allows you to receive forgiveness of the remaining balance of your Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments while working full time for a qualifying employer. To receive forgiveness, you must remain employed with a qualifying employer at the time you apply for and receive forgiveness for your loans.Qualifying Employers
The following four categories of organizations are considered qualifying employers for the purpose of PSLF:
A government organization
Includes Federal, State, local or Tribal government entities; public child or family service agencies; or Tribal colleges or universities
Note: Service as an elected member of the United States Congress (a U.S. Senator or Representative) does not qualify. Congressional staff members and state legislators (and their staff) may qualify, except for any period of time that they are employed by a political campaign.
Peace Corps or AmeriCorps
You may be eligible if you are a full-time Peace Corps or AmeriCorps volunteer. Volunteer work for any other organization does not count toward qualifying employment for the purposes of PSLF.
A not-for-profit, tax exempt organization (Under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code)
All organizations that are tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code qualify, regardless of the services that they provide. This category includes most not-for-profit private schools, colleges, and universities.
A private, not-for-profit organization
If your organization is tax-exempt, but is not a 501(c)(3) organization, it could qualify under this category if it provides a qualifying public service. To learn more about the services that qualify, visit our PSLF FAQ.
Working Full Time
To qualify for PSLF, you must work full time for a qualifying employer. Generally, you must work the number of hours per week that your employer considers to be full time. However, if your employer's definition of full time employment is less than 30 hours per week, you must work at least 30 hours per week to be considered full time.
If you are a teacher who does not teach during the summer months, otherwise qualifying PSLF payments you make during the summer will count if:
NOTE: In this circumstance, your employer should include the dates of the summer break when reporting your dates of employment on the PSLF Employment Certification Form (ECF), even though you are not actually teaching during that period.
Working for More Than One Employer
If you work part-time for more than one qualifying employer at the same time, you will be considered full-time for PSLF purposes as long as your combined hours worked equal at least 30 hours per week.
If you are employed by a not-for-profit organization, any time you spend on religious instruction, worship services, or any form of proselytizing may not be counted toward meeting the full-time employment requirement.
Other Eligibility Requirements for PSLF
To be eligible, you must work full-time for a qualifying employer and...
Have Eligible Loan Types
- Direct Subsidized Loans
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans (including TEACH Grants that were converted to Direct Unsubsidized Loans)
- Direct PLUS Loans for graduate or professional students
- Direct Consolidation Loans (including Special Direct Consolidation Loans)
If your loan type isn't listed above...
You can consolidate your non-eligible federal student loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan to make them eligible for PSLF.
Make 120 Qualifying Payments
Must have been made:
- After October 1, 2007
- While employed full-time at an qualifying employer
- Under a qualifying repayment plan
- On-time (no later than 15 days after the scheduled due date)
- Each month, satisfying the installment amount due for that month in full
- When the loan is being actively billed, and is not in a default status
Track your qualifying payment count:
If you previously submitted an ECF confirming you worked for a qualifying employer for purposes of PSLF, the number of qualifying payments you made during the employment period certified by your employer can be viewed within Account Access.
Make Payments Under an Eligible Repayment Plan
Qualifying repayment plans include:
- Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Plan
- Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Plan
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan
- Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan
- 10-year Standard Repayment Plan
NOTE: Payments you make under a 10-year Standard Repayment Plan or under any other Direct Loan Program repayment plan with payments that are at least equal to what you would have been required to pay under the 10-year Standard Repayment plan also count toward PSLF. However, you must switch to an Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plan, such as PAYE, REPAYE, IBR, or ICR, to benefit from PSLF. Otherwise, you would have no remaining loan balance to be forgiven after making 120 payments.
Only Direct Loans are eligible for PSLF. Consolidating your ineligible federal student loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan can make your loans eligible as long as you meet all other program requirements. Be sure to choose an Income-Driven Repayment plan when you apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan.
Direct PLUS Loans for Parents
Although made under the Direct Loan Program, Direct PLUS Loans for parents must be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan in order to benefit from PSLF. Direct PLUS Loans for parents are not eligible for the IDR plans that allow borrowers to benefit from the PSLF program. However, if a Direct PLUS Loan made to a parent borrower is consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan, the new Direct Consolidation Loan can then be repaid under the ICR plan, which is a qualifying repayment plan for PSLF. The ICR plan is the only available IDR plan for a Direct Consolidation Loan that includes a PLUS Loan made to a parent borrower.
Note: Direct PLUS Consolidation Loans, which include PLUS Loans made to parent borrowers before July 1, 2006 must be re-consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify for repayment under the ICR plan. However, this loan type may only be re-consolidated if combined with another loan.
If you do not know what type of federal loans you have, visit StudentAid.gov/login and find out.
Consolidation and Qualifying Payments
If you've already made qualifying payments on your Direct Loans, but also have federal student loans that are not eligible for PSLF, a good option may be to consolidate your other federal loans without including your Direct Loans. You can then begin making qualifying PSLF payments on your new Direct Consolidation Loan and continue making qualifying payments on your existing Direct Loans. If you include your Direct Loans in the consolidation, you will lose credit for any of the required 120 qualifying PSLF payments you made before the loans were consolidated.
Are You Ready to Consolidate?
If you decided that consolidation is the right option for you, apply online now at StudentLoans.gov!
Submit an ECF Early and Often
We recommend that you submit your first ECF after you are confident that you have qualifying loans and have made some qualifying payments. If you do so, you get early confirmation that you are on the right track. Once your first ECF is approved, we recommend that you submit a new ECF annually. This will help you track your progress in the PSLF Program. Each time we approve an ECF, we will update the count of qualifying payments that you have made to include payments made during the updated period of employment that has been certified.
View additional details of the PSLF Program at the Federal Student Aid Website.
Contact a PSLF Specialist
We are here to help you with every step of the process. Contact one of our Public Service Loan Forgiveness specialists at 855-265-4038 for more information.
Learn More About PSLF
Find the answers you're looking for in our FAQs.
Learn More about the Qualifications
If you get a job at a government or eligible not-for-profit organization and repay your loans based on your income, you may qualify for forgiveness of your Direct Loans after 120 qualifying payments and employment. See StudentAid.gov/publicservice for more information and for a form you can fill out when you start working to receive confirmation that your employment qualifies for the program.Employer Resource Center
An Employer's Role in the Application Process
We will only determine whether an employer qualifies for PSLF based on the submission of an ECF. That form requires you, the employer, to certify:
- That you are a qualifying public service organization
- The time frame the employee worked for your organization
- Whether the employee was employed full time or part time
Your current or former employee may ask for your assistance defining your organization type in Section 3 of the ECF. Additionally, your current or former employee will ask you to complete and sign Section 4 of the ECF, which acts as a certification of accuracy for the completed document. Review the Employment Certification Documents section for an example of the ECF and form completion instructions.
Employer Eligibility in Completing the ECF
Section 3 of the ECF can be completed by the borrower or an authorized official at the borrower's employer (see who is considered an authorized party in the following section). A borrower may need assistance retrieving all necessary information for Section 3, or may have an authorized official from their place of employment fill out this section. Section 4 of the ECF must be completed by an authorized official, and cannot be filled out by the borrower.
Section 4 of the ECF must be filled out by an authorized official. This official may include a party authorized by the borrower's employer to certify the employment status of a current or former employee or service member. This party should have access to the borrower's employment or service records, and is also authorized to assist in the borrower's completion of Section 3.
Recommended Frequency for Sending the ECF
We recommend that employees submit an ECF once per year. Even though you and your employee already know whether the employment for your organization qualifies, an updated ECF is the only way for an employee to be sure that all of the payments made over the course of the last year of employment count toward PSLF.
Employer Best Practices
Are you a
Was this content helpful?
Give us your feedback on this PSLF content.