The Department of Education (ED) published a notice in the Federal Register Thursday soliciting comments on a new, single form combining the applications for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and the temporary program designed by Congress in 2018 to assist borrowers whose requests for debt relief under the PSLF program were rejected.
The new form, which ED wrote would help it in “streamlining the forgiveness determination process,” would bypass the need for borrowers to file both a PSLF application and send an email requesting relief under the Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF) program.
Currently, borrowers seeking loan forgiveness under PSLF must fill out a six-page form after making 120 qualifying payments while working in a qualifying job. However, very few students have received relief since the first cohort of borrowers became eligible for forgiveness in 2017 — just 1.2% according to the latest ED data — due to widespread misunderstanding about the program requirements. According to the recent data, a majority of applications continue to be rejected because they do not meet PSLF requirements, such as not having made all their payments in a qualifying repayment plan or not working a qualifying job.
Seeking to assist rejected borrowers, Congress set aside in the fiscal year 2018 omnibus spending bill $350 million to expand PSLF to borrowers who made some or all of their 120 monthly payments under extended or graduated repayment plans, instead of an approved plan. To apply for TEPSLF currently, borrowers have to send an email addressed to FedLoan Servicing requesting that ED reconsider their PSLF application. While a borrower must have been rejected for PSLF to qualify for the temporary program, ED wrote in an explanation of the program that “you do not need to wait for your PSLF application to be denied before you submit your TEPSLF request.”
Notably, a majority of borrowers who have applied for TEPSLF have also been rejected for the program because they either haven’t been in repayment for 10 years, or did not have eligible loans, among other reasons. As of the second fiscal quarter of 2019, about 5% of applications (1,000) have been approved, totalling $43.7 million in discharges.
By submitting the new form, the “Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) & Temporary Expanded PLSF (TESPLF) Certification and Application,” borrowers will be requesting that ED determine whether they qualify for PSLF or TEPSLF and discharge their qualifying loans, as well as how many qualifying payments they have made toward either program if none of their loans currently qualify for forgiveness.
ED asked for public comment on the form on or before March 30, 2020.
Publication Date: 1/31/2020