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Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSFL) was in the news a lot over the last six months. Mostly negative and utterly sensational. The stories revolved around the Department of Education, denying, 98% of forgiveness applications.

The news stories imply the program is broke, and people will never receive forgiveness. While the program can be improved, the earlier mentioned denials were not the Department of Education (DOE) trying to force people to pay.

Borrower mistakes caused these denials.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness revolves around making 120 qualifying payments. The applicants that the DOE denied had made mistakes over their loan term. The following will guide you through the qualifications needed to make sure each monthly payment qualifies.

Loan Type

Not all loans qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. You should already know that private loans, loans funded by private companies, do not qualify. PSFL will only forgive your federal loans; but not all federal loans. Only Direct federal loans. If you have FFEL, Graduate Plus or Parent Plus loans you may have to consolidate those loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify.

Payment Plan

Like loans, not all payment plans qualify for PSFL. Only the ten-year standard payment and income-driven repayment plans qualify. Any other payment plan will not be eligible. So, make sure you are on a qualifying payment plan.

Loan Status

Your loan must be in repayment. Payment made during the grace period or deferment will not qualify. Likewise, any payment made during forbearance, or even delinquent will not count. A simple rule is, if no payment is due, the payment does not count.

It is worth noting; a $0 income-driven repayment does qualify.


You must make 120 monthly payments while being a full-time employee of a qualifying employer. Your employer defines full-time. If your employer does not have a definition of full-time, then 30 hours a week is the requirement. Your employer must also be either a 501c3 non-profit or any level of government. There are other types of non-profits, but PSFL specifically states 501c3.

Yes, the Department of Education denied a lot of applicants. Had they known the above information, the denial’s would not have happened. It is essential you understand these qualifications.

Beyond making sure you qualify, there are things you can do to minimize the total cost of your loans. If you would like help making sure you are eligible and pay as little as you need to reach out to me right now.