It’s about to get easier for government and nonprofit workers with student debt to get loan forgiveness even though the waiver expires in 6 days. Here’s what you need to know.

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  • The Education Department announced permanent fixes to PSLF after the waiver expires on Oct. 31.
  • The fixes include a one-time adjustment to correct past payment errors, and simplifying employer eligibility.
  • The department still recommends borrowers make use of the waiver’s benefits while they can.

A waiver intended to bring public servants closer to student-loan forgiveness is expiring in less than a week — but that doesn’t mean the relief ends there.

President Joe Biden’s Education Department announced temporary reforms in October 2021 to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which intends to forgive student debt for government and nonprofit workers after ten years of qualifying payments. While one of those reforms — a waiver to allow past payments to count toward forgiveness — is expiring on October 31, the department on Tuesday announced permanent fixes to the program going forward.

“As we emerge from the pandemic and the waiver period ends, we’re focused on making this program work for the long haul,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told reports on Tuesday. “People have asked me, ‘are you going to provide an extension to the waiver?’ Well instead, today we are announcing permanent changes to reduce the red tape and the confusing rules that riddle the PSLF program. That’s not all. We’re also unveiling actions that will ensure public servants who are unable to meet the waiver deadline are not left behind.”

If you are enrolled in PSLF, here’s what you need to know about the department’s proposed changes to the program, which will be implemented July 2023. 

A one-time adjustment to your account

If you missed the waiver deadline, you’ll have one more chance to resolve any mistakes on your payments to date. Through a one-time adjustment that will apply to payments made through both PSLF and income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, the department will give borrowers credit for any late payments and payments made during deferment or forbearance.

In order to receive this credit, a borrower must have either a federal direct loan or a FFEL loan held by the department. Other borrowers need to consolidate their loans into an eligible one by May 1, 2023, to receive the account adjustment. Borrowers with spousal loans will receive more information on this process as the department works to implement a recently signed law related to those borrowers.

How these changes will work with the PSLF waiver

Borrowers who apply for the PSLF waiver by the October 31 deadline will have their payments credited under the waiver. They will also have any periods spent in deferment or forbearance credited under the one-time account adjustments in July 2023. Borrowers who never applied for PSLF and submit an application after the waiver expires will have their PSLF forms processed in the same way they were before the waiver, but they could be eligible to receive additional payment credits if they certify time employed under a public service entity.

A key difference between the waiver and these new changes are that the one-time adjustment includes periods of deferments and forbearance that were not counted under the waiver. But as opposed to the waiver, under these new changes borrowers will no longer be able to count the same period of employment toward both PSLF and Teacher Loan Forgiveness. A borrower will also have to be employed by a public service entity when they apply for PSLF.

Permanent PSLF improvements through new regulations

There are three key improvements the department set forth to PSLF for implementation in July 2023. Those include:

  1. Allowing borrowers to receive credit on late payments and counting periods in deferment or forbearance toward forgiveness progress
  2. Simplify criteria for certifying employment by establishing full-time employment as 30 hours a week and requiring employers to give adjunct faculty credit of at least 3.35 hours of work for every hour taught
  3. Giving borrowers credit for forbearance or deferment periods if they make payments equivalent to what they would have owed at the time, including what might have been a $0 payment.

Along with these changes, the department still recommends borrowers take advantage of the PSLF waiver before it expires by checking their eligibility here

Read the original article on Business Insider