PSLF Program Updated as Waiver Deadline Nears

The Department of Education will continue to count pre-consolidation payments and time in forbearance toward the time to forgiveness.

Published October 27, 2022

Edited by Darlene Earnest
PSLF Program Updated as Waiver Deadline Nears
Higher Ed Policy
Photo by The Washington Post/Contributor / Getty Images

  • The PSLF limited waiver is set to expire after Oct. 31.
  • Some of the most helpful aspects of that waiver, however, will soon be made permanent.
  • This will allow more people in public service to qualify for total student loan debt forgiveness.

Those in public service will soon have another opportunity to seek complete student debt forgiveness.

The Department of Education (ED) announced Tuesday that it will implement a one-time payment count adjustment next year. This will allow millions of borrowers seeking debt cancellation through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program or the Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) program to qualify for forgiveness.

Notably, the change would allow these borrowers to get forgiveness sooner even if they made late or partial loan payments.

We're taking bold steps that will automatically move more hardworking public service workers closer to forgiveness and making permanent changes to reduce the red tape that riddled the PSLF program, ED Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

The announcement comes as the PSLF limited waiver — which allows borrowers to consolidate into the Direct Loan program to apply for forgiveness — will expire after Oct. 31.

According to the department, more than $14 billion in debt for 236,000 borrowers has been discharged through the PSLF limited waiver.

PSLF allows public service workers — including government employees, teachers, and nonprofit workers — to seek federal student debt cancellation after 10 years of making payments as a public servant. IDR plans offer lower monthly payments to borrowers with the promise of a loan discharge after 20-25 years of repayment.

ED's expanded waiver will include a one-time payment adjustment, scheduled for July. That adjustment will apply toward the timeline to forgiveness for both PSLF and IDR.

Those adjustments include counting payments to include:

  • Any month a payment was made, even if it was late or partial
  • Months of qualifying payments prior to consolidation
  • Months while a borrower spent 12 consecutive months in forbearance
  • Months while a borrower spent 36 cumulative months in forbearance
  • Any month spent in deferment (unless it was in-school deferment) prior to 2013

The plan suggests that those seeking forgiveness through PSLF may not have to consolidate out of the Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) program and into the Direct Loan program by Oct. 31. Mark Kantrowitz, a student loan expert and higher education author, told BestColleges the department is giving mixed messages in regard to the deadline.

Cardona said in a statement that he encourages public service workers to take advantage of the limited waiver before Oct. 31.

ED added that it plans to implement regulatory changes to PSLF, negotiated in late 2021, in July.