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Student Loan Forgiveness Update

MoneyWise | Aug 11, 2022

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Show Notes

If you worry that you’ll never be able to pay off your federal student loans, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting a little brighter. The White House is expected to make a decision about student loan forgiveness, but the Education Department isn’t waiting. We’ll explain today on MoneyWise.

  • So if you have federal student loans, you need to check your email. The Education Department says it has sent out an email to 22 million borrowers urging them to apply for relief under the existing Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF).
  • This program was supposed to provide relief for borrowers working in the public sector after they make 120 payments over 10 years. But even the Education Department admits that, up to this point, … it’s pretty much been a failure. Only about 20% of the more than 1 million applicants are in a position to have their loans forgiven by 2026.
  • Hoping to correct that, the Education Department last year issued a waiver on some of PSLF requirements, giving borrowers credit toward loan cancellation. Under the waiver, it doesn’t matter what types of federal loans or under which forgiveness program the borrower may have applied. The only requirement is that the loans be consolidated into a Direct loan before the waiver expires this October 31st.
  • Before the waiver was issued, all loans had to be consolidated, but any payments made prior to consolidation didn’t count toward the 120 needed for forgiveness. That essentially sent millions of borrowers back to square one in meeting the requirements.
  • That has now changed.
  • Under the waiver, around 9 million workers in the public sector could be eligible for debt cancellation in the PSLF program. The trouble is, they haven’t applied yet, according to a report by the Student Borrower Protection Center. States with the most workers in the public sector include Texas, New York, Florida, and California.
  • DO YOU QUALIFY?
  • So, how do you qualify for loan cancellation under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program? First, you have to work for a federal, state, local, or tribal government, or for a non-profit organization. By the way, serving in the military is considered federal service.
  • Okay, then you have to be a full-time worker for a qualifying organization. You must also consolidate all federal loans into a Direct Loan. And finally, you have to make your qualifying 120 payments.
  • The impact of this waiver is potentially huge. It gives borrowers credit for payments made before consolidation on other loan types, regardless of the payment plan, and for payments made after the October 31st deadline for applying.
  • For example, if you received Teacher Loan Forgiveness, that period of service will count toward PSLF eligibility if you can verify public service employment during that period.
  • To find out if you’re eligible, you can go to StudentAid.gov and log into your account.
  • You can then search through a database to find your employer and determine if your service is eligible for relief under the PSLF program.
  • You can also go to ForgiveMyStudentDebt.org to find out what type of federal student loans you have. Again, Direct Loans are eligible for PSLF, but other loans must be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan.
  • DON’T MISS THE DEADLINE
  • This next part is critical: You only have until the waiver expires on October 31 to apply and have your previous qualifying payments on other loans count toward the 120 you need for forgiveness under the PSLF program.
  • And there's more good news for some 200,000 borrowers. Washington is now preparing to cancel around $6 billion in federal student loans to settle a class action suit. The plaintiffs argued that their schools defrauded them, which should have entitled them to loan forgiveness, but that the Education Department dragged its feet for years, not granting that relief.
  • Meanwhile, the Biden administration is expected to announce more student loan forgiveness options in the weeks ahead.
  • Remember, always try to minimize borrowing for education. Look hard for scholarships and grants and work part-time while in school. You don’t want to be saddled with student loan debt, waiting and hoping for loan forgiveness someday. The borrower is slave to the lender.

On this program, Rob also answers listener questions:

  • With inflation rising so rapidly, is it still a good decision to pay off your mortgage more quickly?
  • When does it make sense to refinance your home?
  • Does it make sense to pay off debt by cashing in a whole life policy?

Remember, you can call in to ask your questions most days at (800) 525-7000 or email them to [email protected]. Also, visit our website at MoneyWise.org where you can connect with a MoneyWise Coach, join the MoneyWise Community, and even download the free MoneyWise app.

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