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PSLF Webinar Offers Updated Guide to Loan Forgiveness for Public Servants

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Staff Reporter

In a webinar on Thursday, Sen. Bob Casey’s (D-Pa.) office provided participants with an updated walkthrough of the student loan landscape for borrowers in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

The conversation follows the Department of Education’s (ED) recently enacted limited waiver, which gives borrowers credit for prior completed payments that would not otherwise count toward PSLF, and detailed how the program would impact borrowers who are eligible for forgiveness during the temporary period, as well as those who will need to navigate the program when the waiver expires.

In Pennsylvania, Casey’s office underscored that PSLF forgiveness would no longer be considered taxable income, which was a change implemented by Gov. Tom Wolf.

During the webinar, Casey’s office was joined by the Institute of Student Loan Advisors (TISLA), which provided a detailed guide on the parameters for achieving eligibility for PSLF.

Betsy Mayotte, the president and founder of TISLA, highlighted which loans, employment circumstances, and payments are eligible for PSLF, and provided a broad overview of the program. In short, to access forgiveness a borrower must make 120 qualifying payments, over the course of a 10-year period, while working at an eligible employer.

TISLA also provided a resource page with more information and a number of FAQs concerning the program.

Mayotte underscored the benefits of ED’s limited waiver, and urged eligible borrowers to take advantage of the benefits before they expire in October. In addition to those benefits, many borrowers said the student loan relief measures provided at the outset of the pandemic  seemed too good to be true, according to Mayotte.

“They were nervous about screwing up their PSLF so they keep making payments. If you were one of those people, stop it,” Mayotte said. “Making payments during this period is the equivalent of taking that money out of your bank in cash, throwing it in your fire pit, and roasting marshmallows over it.”

Since the waiver has allowed for the current federal moratorium on student loan repayment and interest period to count toward that 10 years and 120 qualifying payments under PSLF, there is no benefit to making a payment at this time.

“If you’ve been making payments or you’ve made any payments since March 30, 2020 you can contact your servicer and ask for that money back and they will give it back to you fairly quickly,” Mayotte said.

Mayotte also stressed that the benefits have a hard stop of October 31, 2022 and insisted that any borrower with potential eligibility reach out to ensure that they are taking advantage of temporary benefits.

Casey sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, where legislation related to student loans could be considered in the coming months. However, it is unclear whether Congress will wade into the system until the repayments resume in May.

Additional regulatory changes for PSLF are anticipated to come through the ongoing negotiated rulemaking process in tandem with actions taken by ED.

Stay tuned to Today’s News for more coverage of PSLF and ED’s efforts to overhaul the program.

 

Publication Date: 2/11/2022


Johnna H | 2/11/2022 4:25:29 PM

I just read this. Does anyone know if what Mayotte stated about stopping to pay applies to all student loan borrowers, meaning if you have FFEL loans actively in repayment with Nelnet as a servicer, does that apply to those students too? I get a little confused if all this is only related to those with Fed Direct Loans and all others (FFEL, Perkins, etc.) are outside of this. I would appreciate any clarity that can be given. Thanks!

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