The U.S. Department of Education said more than 110,000 people have had about $6.8 billion in student loans forgiven under a revamped federal program.
The Biden Administration announced changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program in October 2021. The program temporarily waived certain rules to make it easier for some payments to qualify for loan forgiveness.
The department said more than 113,000 borrowers have seen their balances discharged, with the average balance of around $60,000 per person.
The program originally started in 2007. It was intended to help employees with nonprofit and government agencies have their student loans forgiven after ten years of payments (120 total payments).
But the program struggled to live up to its promise, with many who applied running into roadblocks or learning they were ineligible. The overall approval rate among applicants has been low.
To be eligible, you 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
The federal government made key changes to the program last year, making some payments eligible that wouldn’t have qualified under the previous rules.
According to the Department of Education, here are the changes:
- Receive credit for periods of repayment on Direct, FFEL, or Perkins Loans
- Periods of repayment under any plan count
- Periods of repayment on loans before consolidation count, even if on the wrong repayment plan
- Periods of repayment where payments were late or for less than the amount due also count
- Periods of repayment on loans before consolidation count, even if paid late or for less than the amount due
- Can get forgiveness even if not employed or not employed by a qualifying employer at the time of application and forgiveness
- If you got Teacher Loan Forgiveness, the period of service that led to your eligibility can count toward PSLF if you certify PSLF employment for that period
The rule changes were part of new federal policy put in place for the COVID-19 pandemic. They are temporary and will expire after Oct. 31, 2022.
You can learn more about the program here.