Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a federal program designed to reduce the burden of student loan debt for people who work for eligible public interest employers: at a 501(c)3 not-for-profit school, university, or hospital, in government or approved governmental entities, or at a few other public interest organizations .
Get the basics

What are the PSLF requirements?

The PSLF Program may forgive the remaining balance on your Direct Loans if you meet the criteria below. Note that in addition to forgiveness, you may also be eligible for lower monthly payments based on your income.

Employment

  • Work 10+ years for a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, government organization, or select other not-for-profit .
  • Work full-time (at least 30 hours a week--more if required by your employer)

Loan type

  • Direct Loans
  • Other federal loans if first consolidated to Direct Loans

Payment plan

Only the income-driven repayment plans (plus technically the 10-Year Standard Repayment Plan) qualify you for PSLF: REPAYE, PAYE, IBR, and ICR. (Compare)

Payments

120 on-time and full monthly payments (not necessarily consecutive)

How to enroll and certify

Every year you’ll need to certify your income, family size and employment. It’s a good idea to set a calendar reminder with links to all the forms you’ll need.

Key steps to follow:

1
Consolidating loans
Only qualifying payments that you make on Direct Loans can be counted toward the 120 payments required for PSLF. ( Read more. ) You can consolidate federal student loans at StudentLoans.gov .
2
Enroll in Income Driven Repayment
Enroll in a qualifying Income Driven Repayment (IDR) plan: ICR, IBR, PAYE, or REPAYE

It’s important to recertify your income and family size annually by the specified deadline.
3
Certify your employment
To qualify for PSLF, complete the Employment Certification Form .
 
Submit this form:
  • When you start a job in public service
  • If you switch employers
  • Once a year
Insights

Tips for success with PSLF

Like many government programs, this one has a number of requirements. Here are some things to watch out for with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program:
  • If you plan to take advantage of this or any other federal forgiveness program, do not refinance your federal loans to private. (Private student loans are offered by private lenders, such as your local bank, a national bank, an online lender, or a credit union.) Even though some private loans may offer more appealing terms, they are not eligible for PSLF.
  • If you’ve been making income-driven payments on older federal loans, you may have made progress towards the long-term, taxable forgiveness that is not tied to employment. Consolidating would cause you to lose that progress.
  • Only payments on Direct Loans can count toward the 120, so the earlier you consolidate older federal loans the better. However, be cautious about including Direct Loans in a consolidation, because if you have already made payments that count towards the 120, you would lose that progress.
  • Only the income-driven repayment plans (plus technically 10-Year Standard Repayment Plan) qualify you for PSLF: REPAYE, PAYE, IBR, and ICR. Graduated and extended repayment plans do not qualify.
  • Be aware that if you’re married, how you file your taxes may impact your income-driven payments. For most IDRs, if you file your taxes as “married filing separately,” your loan servicer will consider only your income, not your spouse’s, in calculating your monthly payments. However for REPAYE, your spouse’s income is included in the monthly payment calculation regardless of tax filing status. Consult your tax preparer for more details on the consequences of tax filing status.
  • PSLF is tax free, but requires at least 120 months of work in public service. Long-term, income-driven forgiveness may be available if you aren’t employed in public service, however you could owe taxes on the amount forgiven.
Why TIAA

Why is TIAA doing this?

Many of our clients work for eligible public interest employers and may not be aware of this program. PSLF and an income-driven repayment plan may help ease the burden of student debt, allowing people to focus on other goals like saving for a home, a rainy day, or retirement.
Insights

Resources

PSLF has a number of requirements and we’ve highlighted only some of what you need to know. Here are a couple of helpful guides to help you find out more about the program.

Federal Student Aid

 
 
Official PSLF website of the U.S. Department of Education

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

CFPB is a U.S. government agency responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector.
TIAA does not provide legal or tax advice.  Please consult with your own personal legal or tax adviser.
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