Student Loan Forgiveness

Manage Student Debt With Summer

Many active members are struggling to pay off their student loan debt and simply don’t know where to turn for help. You don’t have to manage your student loans alone. PEF makes available, an online student loan management platform, through the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), a union affiliate. Meet Summer—the online resource, started by student loan borrowers who wanted to help others avoid bad information and bad actors in the student loan market. Summer harnesses the expertise of public policy experts to optimize borrower options, and it uses technology to make the process easy and secure.

Summer: Simplifying Student Debt

About Student Loan Forgiveness

Forgiveness, cancellation, or discharge of your loan means that you are no longer required to repay some or all of your loan. These terms mean nearly the same thing, but they are used in different ways.

  • Forgiveness or cancellation: You’re no longer required to make payments on your loans due to your job.
  • Discharge: You’re no longer required to make payments on your loans due to other circumstances, such as a total and permanent disability, or the closure of the school where you received your loans.

Outside of the circumstances that may qualify you to have your loans forgiven, cancelled, or discharged, you remain responsible for repaying your loan, whether or not you complete your education, find a job related to your program of study, or are happy with the education you paid for with the loan.

There are various types of forgiveness, cancellation, and discharge options available for the different types of federal student loans, but the one available through PEF and AFT is Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

This type of forgiveness program is available for Direct Loans. If you are employed by a government or not-for-profit organization, you may be able to receive loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. PSLF forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer. Recent temporary changes to the PSLF program may make you eligible for loan forgiveness—even if you were not eligible before. So now is the time to apply again, or apply for the first time.

PSLF waiver offers a way to get closer to loan forgiveness

On Oct. 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced a change to Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program rules for a limited time as a result of the COVID-19 national emergency. During this temporary period of time, borrowers may receive credit for payments that previously did not quality for PSLF.

  • For a limited time, you may receive credit for past periods of repayment on loans that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF.
  • If you have Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL), Perkins, or other federal student loans, you’ll need to consolidate your loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify for PSLF both in general and under the waiver. Before consolidating, make sure to check if you work for a qualifying employer.
  • Past periods of repayment will now count regardless of whether you made a payment, made that payment on time, for the full amount due, on a qualifying repayment plan.
  • Periods of deferment or forbearance, and periods of default, continue to not qualify.

PLEASE NOTE: The qualifying employment requirement has not changed.

You must meet the deadline requirement for the application process which is October 31, 2022.

Eligibility

To qualify, for PSLF, you must:

  • Be employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, tribal government, or not-for-profit organization (federal service includes U.S. military service).
  • Work full-time for that agency or organization. You’re generally considered to work full-time if you meet your employer’s definition of full-time or work 30 hours per week, whichever is greater. If you are employed in more than one qualifying part-time job at the same time, you will be considered full-time if you work a combined average of at least 30 hours per week with your employers.
  • Pay on a Direct Loan (or consolidate other federal student loans, such as the Federal Family Education Loan or Federal Perkins Loan into a Direct Loan).
  • Make 120 qualifying payments.

Qualifying payments

A qualifying payment is a payment you make:

  • After October 1, 2007
  • Under a qualifying repayment plan
  • For the full amount due as shown on your bill
  • No later than 15 days after your due date
  • While you are employed full-time by a qualifying employer

However, most of the qualifying payment rules have been suspended through October 31, 2022. Under this temporary waiver, you may get credit for payments you’ve made on loans that would not normally qualify for PSLF. Through October 31, you can get credit for past payments even if you:

  • Did not make the payment on time
  • Did not pay the full amount due
  • Were not on the right payment plan

A qualifying repayment plan includes all of the income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, plans that base your monthly payment on your income. The qualifying repayment plan rules have been temporarily suspended as a result of the limited PSLF waiver. You may receive credit toward PSLF, provided you had a qualifying employer, if you made payments on any type of non-consolidated Direct Loan on any repayment plan prior to October 6, 2021, such as Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and Graduate PLUS loans made to students. For consolidation loans, borrowers may get credit for payments made on the underlying loans after October 1, 2007.

The PSLF Process

Because you have to make 120 qualifying monthly payments, it will take at least 10 years before you can qualify for PSLF. You must also be working for a qualifying employer at the time you submit the form for forgiveness and at the time the remaining balance on your loan is forgiven. Whether you have made 120 qualifying payments, or are working toward PSLF and are completing your employer certification, you should fill out and submit the PSLF & Temporary Expanded PSLF Certification & Application. (PSLF form).

PLEASE NOTE: If you do not periodically submit the PSLF form, then at the time you apply for forgiveness, you will be required to submit employment certification for each employer where you worked while making the required 120 qualifying monthly payments.

Using Summer’s online student loan management platform, PEF members and retirees who enroll in this free member benefit can:

  • Enroll in income-driven repayment plans and manage annual income re-certifications for these plans.
  • Complete the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Employment Certification Form and manage the PSLF certification and application process.
  • Find other options for loan forgiveness programs, including state- and occupation-based loan forgiveness, and get assistance in applying for them.
  • Talk through options with Summer’s borrower success team so they can understand how to best maximize their loan repayment and forgiveness options.

Are you ready to get your student loans under control today? Summer’s got your back!

Enroll for free today!

Deadline for the waiver period is October 31, 2022.

For more information, please contact Tammy Carney, PEF Training & Education Specialist at
(518) 785-1900, ext. 480, or email Tammy directly.

Additional resources regarding student loan forgiveness: