How To Apply and Complete The PSLF Paperwork
In this post, I will walk you through the steps of how to fill out the public service loan forgiveness employment certification form and apply for debt forgiveness. This form is an important step in achieving student loan forgiveness. Once you have secured a position in a qualifying non profit, submitting the PSLF form should be your number one priority
How to Find the PSLF Employment Certification form
The PSLF paperwork and fact sheet can be found at www.studentaid.ed.gov but I have also excluded the form here:
The Steps To Complete The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Paperwork
Now that you have downloaded the PSLF Form, it is vital that you complete this form completely and accurately. If there are any missing items or mistakes, this could lengthen your approval process by weeks to months. This is because any missing items will cause Fed Loan Servicing to return your paperwork to you to resubmit. The time is will take for Fed Loan to read your PSLF form and send it back to you could be several weeks.
Step 1: Ensure Qualification:
The following is a brief itemization of the qualifications needed to be eligible for public service loan forgiveness:
- Direct loans: You must have ONLY direct loans. If you have a mix of various loan types other than direct loans, then you may need to consolidate your loans. Consolidating your loans will enable your loan to be a direct loan and allow you to be edible for student loan forgiveness. Unfortunately, consolidating your loans will eliminate any payments you had made towards your student loans and essential start your repayment clock back to ZERO.
- Full Time employment: You must be employed full time, or what your employer considers full time. Usually this is 40 hours per week. If you are a therapist that has an annual contract but is allowed summers off such as school therapist, this time off will still be considered full time depending on your therapy contract. For more questions, you should contact your student loan provider and your employer.
- Public service qualifying employment: You must work in a qualifying public service or non profit position to be eligible for PSLF. There is a more complete list of approved employers at www.studentaid.ed.gov. Usually government and public schools will count toward PSLF.
Step 2: Apply for PSLF via Employment Certification Public Service Loan Forgiveness Form
Once you know you are eligible for PSLF, you want to hand in the PSLF form ASAP. This form and processing of your loans can takes months! The form can be downloaded here: PSLF Employment Certification Form.
Here are some tips:
- Fill out the form legibly and completely. My HR representative had sloppy handwriting, and the first time I mailed this form, I was denied because of the fact they could not read his phone number! This cost me roughly one month of time as I had to have HR sign a new form and fax it a second time to Fed Loan Servicer.
- The government communicates initially by mail only so watch your mail box closely. The form that they sent me denying my initial attempt took 2 weeks to arrive in my mail box. Also, until all your loans have transfer to Fed Loan Servicer, they will mail any approvals or denials-they will not email you!
MOST IMPORTANT STEP THAT NO ONE TELLS YOU:
The government only back dates your PSLF loan payments. Meaning, If you fill out this form on day 1 of your employment at an approved location and mail it in, the government is not going to be able to “officially” approve any of your PSLF payments. They will still count, but you will not have the peace of mind that they have screened these payments and are accepting them as PSLF counted payments.
However, if you are not already serviced with FED LOAN SERVICING, it can take months to transfer your loans to them. And the only way to transfer these loans to them, is to get your employer certification form approved.
What you should do once you begin a PSLF approved position, is do the PSLF employer certification form twice. DO it initially when you start your job so that you can begin transferring your student loans to Fed Loan Servicing and then again after 3-4 months of payments so that you can get officially approved on some of your payments and officially know that you have performed this tricky process correctly.
Step 3: Make copies of everything
Step 4: Follow up frequently with Fed Loan Servicer via myfedloan.org as they:
- Transfer your loans to Fed Loan Servicing: This will take roughly 90 days.
- Review your payments for qualification: This will take 90 days after your loans transfer to Fed Loan Servicing.
What is Payment Tracking:
Once your loans transfer to Fed Loan Servicer which is essentially the government, you want to get official evidence that your payments actually meet the governments strict rules on forgiveness. Simply getting your employer certified as an approved employer is only one step and you can still get denied PSLF if you loans don’t meet the rules discussed above. When Fed Loan approves your employer certification, they are only approving the fact that you work for an approved person, not anything else.
This is why it is vital to make sure that Fed Loan Servicer has tracked and approved your payments. You do not need to fill out any other paperwork for tracking. It should be on your Fed Loan Servicer Online Dashboard roughly 90 days after your loans transfer to Fed Loan Servicer. Contact Fed Loan if you have any questions about why or why not your payments have not been tracked or approved.
Payment tracking is really the only thing that therapists seeking loan forgiveness have that can give confidence in public service forgiveness. It is really the only hard evidence that you can use to prove you qualify for PSLF after 10 years!
Keys to Help Ensure Forgiveness:
Above were the steps in detail to help you succeed at completing and applying for PSLF. Here are some last tips to make sure you get approved for debt forgiveness:
- Communicate: Contact Fed Loan frequently. That is the only way to ensure that everything is on track and that you are not missing payments or paperwork. Always ask :is there any more paper work I need to do” as many will not openly tell you all the steps toward loan forgivness.
- Keep Copies of communication and all paperwork
- Pay on time : Loans in default or in forbearance will not qualify. You want to keep hard copies of all your payments as well, as I have heard many stories of loan services loosing student debt payments.
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