Back in 2007, the federal government offered a deal: If certain student loan borrowers chose to work in the public sector – working for nonprofits, government agencies, or education – and stuck to it for 10 years their federal loans would be forgiven.
It’s been over a decade since the U.S. Department of Education’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness program was implemented. Recent news reports have shown how nearly all of those who have applied have been denied full debt forgiveness. Now, the program is getting an overhaul.
This change will result in 22,000 borrowers who have consolidated loans, including previously deemed ineligible loans, becoming immediately eligible for $1.74 billion in forgiveness without the need to apply or reapply for said forgiveness, according to a press release from the Department of Education.
In addition, 27,000 borrowers could potentially qualify for an additional $2.82 billion if they can certify their employment.
“Borrowers who devote a decade of their lives to public service should be able to rely on the promise of Public Service Loan Forgiveness. The system has not delivered on that promise to date, but that is about to change for many borrowers who have served their communities and their country,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.
These changes are said to make the complicated process of qualifying for the relief a bit easier through extended time and less stringent requirements.
Before the announcement, only 16,000 borrowers had seen their debt forgiven via the program, according to the Education Department, compared to the 1.3 million people who have tried to complete the program but were told they failed to fulfill at least one of the requirements.
The biggest issue facing borrowers who attempted to have their loans forgiven were the many requirements. For their loans to be forgiven, borrowers had to work in a job that was deemed a public service position by the federal government; make 120 payments through the appropriate income-based repayment plan; and have the right kind of loans, called direct loans, according to the Department of Education.
Many of the 1.3 million people who applied for loan forgiveness found themselves missing one of these requirements and being denied relief.
And the biggest change is a limited Public Service Loan Forgiveness waiver will allow all payments by student borrowers to count toward the forgiveness plan regardless of their loan program or payment plan.
In addition, student borrowers who applied for relief and were denied will have their cases evaluated under the new waiver to see if they are eligible.