What to do if you miss the October 31 PSLF waiver deadline to apply for student-loan forgiveness

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College graduates wearing caps and gowns.
If you miss the October 31 deadline for the PSLF waiver, don’t panic.

  • The PSLF limited waiver expires on October 31 and allows public servants to get their student loans forgiven faster.
  • If you miss the deadline, don’t panic. You’ll have another chance to get more payments counted under a one-time account adjustment.
  • If you no longer work for a nonprofit, government, or tribal organization, you must apply by October 31 to get your loans forgiven.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program was designed to help student-loan borrowers who work for nonprofit, government, or tribal organizations get their student loans forgiven after 120 eligible payments.

In the past, only 2% of those who applied were approved. However, a limited waiver, announced last year, eased the eligible payment requirements so that more borrowers can get their student loans forgiven. Since the waiver was released, over 236,000 public servants have received $14 billion in student debt relief, according to the White House.

The limited waiver expires on October 31, but the Department of Education this week announced new, permanent reforms and short-term changes that may give public servants more time to get previously ineligible payments counted toward forgiveness. 

You can still get more eligible payments counted under a one-time IDR payment adjustment, even if you miss the PSLF limited waiver deadline

The PSLF limited waiver successfully forgave billions in student loans by easing restrictions around what counts as an “eligible payment.” Even though the waiver expires on October 31, a one-time income-driven repayment (IDR) adjustment will offer public servants some of the same benefits as the limited waiver beyond the deadline.

The one-time IDR payment adjustment aims to bring more borrowers — not just public servants under PSLF — closer to getting their loans forgiven. Similar to the limited PSLF waiver, the one-time IDR adjustment will count more past payments toward the 240 or 300 payments needed to forgive student loans under an IDR plan.

Here are the requirements for forgiveness under PSLF, the limited PSLF waiver, and IDR:

 Normal PSLF requirementsPSLF requirements under the limited waiverStudent-loan forgiveness under one-time IDR adjustment
Work requirementsYou must work full-time at a nonprofit, government, or tribal organization at the time of application and forgiveness.You can get forgiveness even if you are not currently employed by a nonprofit, government, or tribal organization, but were previously employed by such organizations. You must have made 120 eligible payments while you were employed by a nonprofit, government, or tribal organization. You don’t have to be a public servant to qualify for forgiveness under IDR.
Repayment plan requirementsYou must make 120 payments under the 10-year standard repayment plan or IDR. Past payments under other repayment plans, such as the Graduated Repayment Plan, do not count toward the 120 eligible payments needed for forgiveness. Past payments under any repayment plan count toward the 120 eligible payments needed for forgiveness.Past payments under any repayment plan count toward the 240 or 300 eligible payments, depending on the IDR plan you choose.
Accepted payment typesOnly payments made on time and in full count toward the 120 eligible payments needed for forgiveness.Past partial or late payments count toward the 120 eligible payments needed for forgiveness.Past partial or late payments under any repayment plan will be counted toward the required 240 or 300 payments.
Forbearance and deferment eligibilityForbearance and deferment periods do not count toward 120 eligible payments needed for forgiveness.Some months spent in forbearance or deferment count toward the 120 eligible payments needed for forgiveness.Some months spent in forbearance or deferment count toward the 240 or 300 eligible payments needed for forgiveness.
FFEL and Perkins loan eligibilityOnly Direct loans given to student borrowers (this excludes Parent PLUS loans) are eligible. You must consolidate your FFEL or Perkins loans to Direct loans, however, past payments will not count toward the 120 eligible payments needed for forgiveness.After consolidating FFEL or Perkins Loans into Direct loans, you will receive credit for past periods of repayment to count toward the 120 eligible payments needed for forgiveness.After consolidating FFEL or Perkins Loans into Direct loans, you will receive credit for past periods of repayment to count toward the 240 or 300 payments needed for forgiveness.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness eligibilityIf you received Teacher Loan Forgiveness, the five years’ worth of payments required to get up to $17,500 of loans forgiven do not count toward the 120 payments needed for PSLF. If you received Teacher Loan Forgiveness, the five years’ worth of payments required to get up to $17,500 of loans forgiven count toward the 120 payments needed for PSLF.

IDR payments do not affect the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program.

You must be on an IDR plan to get the one-time payment adjustment

If you miss the October 31 deadline to submit the PSLF application, you can still get more payments counted toward PSLF under the one-time IDR adjustment.

However, you must be on an income-driven repayment plan to qualify. The legislative action that makes the one-time payment adjustment possible only applies to borrowers on IDR plans.

Since the pandemic payment pause ends this year and payments restart on January 1, 2023, consider switching before that date to find out your payment amount on an IDR plan (if you are not on one already). Note that, depending on your income, your payment may increase on an IDR plan compared to the plan you were on previously.

If you no longer work at a nonprofit, government, or tribal organization, you must apply by October 31

Normal PSLF requirements state that you have to be employed at a nonprofit, government, or tribal organization when you receive forgiveness through PSLF. That requirement is waived until October 31. 

If you miss the October 31 deadline and no longer work for a qualifying employer, you will not be eligible for PSLF.

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