The Department of Education this week announced it has approved more than $42 billion in federal student loan debt forgiveness for public service workers.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program would impact more than 615,000 borrowers in the past 18 months. It’s open to teachers, librarians, nurses, public interest lawyers, military members and other public workers, cancelling their debt after 10 years of public interest work.
The new program is separate from the Biden Administration’s student debt relief plan aimed at erasing the loans of millions of borrowers who make less than $400,000 per year, regardless of their profession. The Supreme Court is currently weighing whether to block that plan or let it go forward, having heard arguments in the case in February.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF) was launched in 2007, when George W. Bush was President. Stringent rules enacted during its set-up have led to more than 90% of applicants to be rejected, according to the Department of Education.
In October 2021, the Biden Administration temporarily relaxed the PSLF’s requirements, making it easier for applicants to gain approval. However, those relaxed rules expired a year later.
Now, borrowers who want to increase their payment count can apply for a one-time account adjustment until the end of 2023.
Anyone who is or was previously employed for at least 30 hours per week of service in a number of government organizations, including the military, public education, or volunteer full-time with AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps are eligible.
Workers at non-profits that are not tax-exempt may also qualify under certain conditions.