The Biden administration has forgiven $42 billion in student loan debt for borrowers in public service
Since the Biden administration announced improvements to Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and temporarily expanded forgiveness eligibility in October 2021, 615,000 public service workers have seen $42 billion in student debt erased, according to a Department of Education (ED) statement released Monday.
PSLF allows federal student loan borrowers who go into public service — such as teachers, nurses, government employees and more — an opportunity to have their debt forgiven after completing 10 years of service.
Prior to an overhaul beginning in 2021, the program was notoriously selective, approving less than 1% of applications as of 2018, with many denials due to borrowers adhering to the wrong type of payment plan. That’s why the Biden administration has made it a priority to address issues with the process and make it easier for qualifying borrowers to see forgiveness.
“Since Day One, the Biden-Harris Administration has worked relentlessly to fix a broken student loan system, including by making sure we fulfill the promise of Public Service Loan Forgiveness for those who have spent a decade or more serving our communities and our country,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in the statement.
Borrowers are required to be on an income-driven repayment plan to make their 120 monthly payments to qualify for forgiveness. But under the temporary expansion, which ended in October 2022, eligible borrowers could receive forgiveness regardless of the type of payment plan they followed.
Find out if you’re eligible for PSLF
As part of its continued efforts to improve the program, ED announced updates to its PSLF help tool on Monday as well.
The tool allows borrowers to find qualifying employers, see what they need to do to become eligible and apply for loan forgiveness. If you’re already working toward your 120 payments, you can use the tool to track them.
To use it, you’ll need your Federal Student Aid (FSA) login information and your W-2 or your employer’s federal employer identification number to see if they qualify.
“FSA is making the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program as easy as possible so all public servants can finally get the loan forgiveness they have earned,” Federal Student Aid chief operating officer Richard Cordray said in the ED statement. “The improved PSLF Help Tool is another step forward to modernize and simplify the process for people who rely on us to carry out the law effectively.”
Additionally, a number of changes to PSLF announced last October will go into effect in July with the hopes of continuing to increase the number of eligible borrowers receiving forgiveness.
The new rules will allow borrowers to make progress on their payment count during certain periods of deferment or forbearance, receive credit for late payments, and be able to consolidate their loans without losing all their PSLF progress.
Eligible borrowers must:
- Be employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit organization (federal service includes U.S. military service)
- Work full-time for that agency or organization
- Have Direct Loans (or consolidate other federal student loans into a Direct Loan)
- Make 120 qualifying payments
You can use the PSLF Help Tool to determine if you work for a qualifying employer, have eligible loans, and have already made qualifying payments.
PSLF relief is separate from Biden’s student debt relief. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on that program before the end of June.
Will a student loan be forgiven?
To be eligible for forgiveness, you must have federal student loans and earn less than $125,000 annually (or $250,000 per household). Borrowers who meet that criteria can get up to $10,000 in debt cancellation. If you also received a Pell Grant during your education, you can qualify for up to $20,000 in forgiveness.
Is student loan forgiveness on hold in 2023?
Yes. In November 2023, the Biden administration extended the pause on federal student loan payments into 2024.