Last October, the Department of Education ("DOE") announced sweeping changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness ("PSLF") Program, under which federal employees may have the remainder of their student loans forgiven completely after they have made regular payments during ten years of public service. Previously, the PSLF Program failed to deliver on its promise to ease the burden of student loan debt for almost all employees at the SEC. DOE is now running a "limited PSLF Waiver Program" under which many of those employees who did not qualify in the past will now qualify. This waiver program, which has no income limit, will sunset in October of this year. We urge you to immediately take a good look at the requirements here to determine whether you will now qualify. The union has heard from some SEC employees who have already had large remaining student loan debts eliminated under this new waiver program.
The limited PSLF waiver will allow all payments by student borrowers to count toward the PSLF Program, regardless of loan program or payment plan. This means that any prior payments made while working for a qualifying employer (such as the federal government) will count as a qualifying payment, regardless of loan type or repayment plan. This includes those who made payments on loans originated through the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP); those who consolidated their FFELP loans into the Direct Loan Program; and those who have made 120 payments on a Direct Loan, but in the wrong repayment plan. DOE also began data matches early this year to automatically provide credit toward PSLF for military service members and federal employees without an application. In addition, the Department said it will review denied PSLF applications for errors and provide an opportunity for borrowers to have their previous PSLF determinations reconsidered.
As you know, NTEU has long been urging DOE to address the issues with the PSLF Program that led to approximately 98 percent of those who applied for loan forgiveness through the program being denied. In addition, last year close to 800 NTEU members submitted comments to DOE urging them to fix this program and eliminate student debt for public servants who have worked a decade or more serving their community. We are pleased that these efforts have made a difference.