Military members will soon benefit from major changes made to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which forgives remaining federal student loan debt for qualifying public service workers who have made consistent payments for 10 years.
Launched in 2007, the program has been heavily criticized for being difficult to navigate. According to military.com, its tight rules have caused more than 90% of applicants to be rejected, leaving thousands of borrowers with debt they thought would be forgiven. In many of those cases, borrowers found that they didn't have the correct type of federal loan or repayment plan in order to qualify for the program.
With the recent changes, however, borrowers who have worked 10 years in a qualifying job will now be eligible for loan relief, regardless of the the type of loan program or repayment plan they have. Additionally, the department will review previously denied PSLF applications for errors, allowing borrowers to have their PSLF determinations reconsidered.
The department will also automatically provide credit for military service members and federal employees using federal data matches — previously, workers had to apply to have their payments certified and receive credit. Another change will allow military members to count time on active duty toward their 10 years of service, even if they have deferments and forbearances on their loans during that time.
“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 Dr. Miguel Cardona. “Teachers, nurses, first responders, servicemembers, and so many public service workers have had our back especially amid the challenges of the pandemic. Today, the Biden Administration is showing that we have their backs, too.”