The Department of Education (DOE) recently announced limited-time waivers for direct federal loans for full time civilians as part of their Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program; applications must be received by Oct. 31.
The PSLF Program forgives the remaining balance on direct loans for full time civilian employees who have made 120 of qualifying monthly payments (e.g., 10 years) under a qualifying repayment plan while working full time for the Coast Guard or another federal agency or U.S. military service. Under the waiver, the kinds of payments borrowers can now receive credit for, has expanded:
- Past payments count whether or not they were made on time or regardless if they were the full payment amount
- Qualifying repayment plans are permissible
- Forbearance periods are now counted toward the PSLF.
In addition, up until the application deadline, loans that wouldn’t usually qualify for the PSLF, now do as long as the borrowers consolidate them into direct ones. Specifically, non-direct loans that may now qualify as consolidated ones include: (e.g. Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL), Federal Perkins Loans, Federally Insured Student Loans (FISL) and National Defense Student Loans (NDSL).
“My understanding is that they [the Department of Education] is encouraging people who may have been denied in the past to reapply because their loan didn’t meet the criteria at that time but may now because of the new criteria in place,” said Sunnie Robinson, a Human Resources specialist within the Office of Civilian Workforce Management.
Robinson also shared that the Coast Guard’s human resources’ role is limited. “As a government HR office, we were asked to help spread the word about this benefit to the workforce,” she said. “Employees who believe they qualify should complete sections one and two of the PSLF certification form and submit it to their servicing CG-123 HR specialist, who will complete sections three and four, and return the form to the employee to submit to DOE,” Robinson further explained, “We have no role in deciding which applications are approved as this is a DOE Program.”
To take advantage of the waiver, here are the steps to follow by Oct. 31:
- Register for an FSA ID; if you don’t already have one at this link.
- If you have Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL), Perkins loans, or other federal student loans including FISL or NDSL, you will need to consolidate your loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify for PSLF.
- You can consolidate your loans if you need to at this link.
- Submit a PSLF form to certify employment for PSLF that you want credit for through the waiver. You can generate a PSLF form at this link.
- You will need your EIN. That is available on your W2 forms.
- Complete sections one and two of the PSLF certification form and do not sign it. Submit it via FedHR to your servicing CG-123 HR Specialist.
- Once returned to you, sign the form and submit it to DOE.
Civilians wanting more information on the program can visit www.Studentaid.gov, or, call 1-855-265-4038 for additional questions about the loan program. Also, information on the temporary changes to the program are explained in ANCHR 22-33.