Victory! PSLF overhauled after 48,000 NEA members demand action

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced a major overhaul of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program that means imminent relief for tens of thousands of public service workers and eventual relief for many more. PSLF was created to forgive the student debt of public employees, like educators, who work in public service for 10 years and make 120 qualifying payments on their student loans.

The changes include a broad, temporary expansion of the kind of payments that count toward PSLF. Originally, the program was limited to on-time payments through federal Direct loans on Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans. Now, borrowers may receive retroactive credit for payments on Perkins, Federal Family Education (FFEL) Loans, and other older federal student loans. Previous non-IDR payments may also count.

“This could not have happened without the activism of more than 48,000 NEA members who sent letters and public comments to ED regarding the broken PSLF program,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “This is a welcome step towards keeping the promise of PSLF and cancelling the student debt of every educator who has served their commitment to their communities.”

About 550,000 public service workers will see their progress toward PSLF grow by 23 monthly payments, on average. For 22,000 of those individuals, forgiveness will be automatic—$1.74 billion in relief. Another 27,000 may receive forgiveness if they re-apply to certify additional periods of employment—another $2.82 billion in relief. Tens of thousands more (and perhaps hundreds of thousands more) will be eligible for relief, but to get it they must apply by Oct. 31, 2022. In contrast, the PSLF program to date has denied 98 percent of the applications filed and forgiven just 16,100 borrowers. Click for further information.

44 responses to “Victory! PSLF overhauled after 48,000 NEA members demand action

  1. I have been paying $25,000 in student loans since 1992 and have just now paid down to the original amount. Deferred at times but never defaulted. When I applied for forgiveness, I was told that the payments must be consecutive and my automatically deducted payments were sometimes deducted on the 31st and sometimes on the 1st so they weren’t consecutive. Hopeless.

  2. Will there be any help for those of us who have, for many years, taught as adjuncts? Our course loads have often been equal to or more than faculty on tenure track. I have been teaching active duty military both FT and as an adjunct since 2001: In Afghanistan, Qatar, Germany and for three years in South Korea. I’ve paid monthly my loans since 1999. On time. Right kinds of loans, etc. It’s lines 6, 7, and 8 on the Employment Certification Form (ECF) that are the problem. On some ECF forms I’ve sent to FedLoan, HR wrote 30 hours on line 8 of many ECFs, but because HR checked PT, my forms were rejected and not applied to my eligible for PSLF count. The wording on says that 30 hours counts! I am excited about the Reform. …still jumping through hoops, writing letters, making phone calls, submitting to FedLoan…Thank you for reading. Congrats to everyone who will soon get relief!

  3. One step in the right direction?? How about a broken promise?? Biden still has not fulfilled the promise of forgiving student loans that was part of his campaign.

  4. I am a little confused by this. I’ve been a public school teacher since 1997. Why do other people have to pay my college debt? That was a choice I made in order to attain the job I wanted. I was also able to keep that debt low because I chose to go to a community college for my first two years and then commute to a state school my final years. Making other hard working Americans pay for our choices is not the right thing to do.

    1. In my case, as well as many others, I came into teaching later in my career. I am now retired and still paying student loans. I think many teachers need support and loan forgiveness programs due to increasing tuition costs. Yes, I chose to get these loans, but I didn’t have a choice in taking on exorbitant tuition costs if I wanted to go into teaching. I too went to community college to keep my debt low.

    2. Sometimes the government’s role is to incentivize changes in the market that will benefit our society as a whole. Our nation is facing a major teacher shortage. We want good, qualified teachers. It is good for all of us to help people get into that career.

  5. Thrilled at the support for overhauling PSLF, however, there is much work to be done to provide relief for student loan borrowers

    Student loan borrowers under the PSLF program are discovering that FedLoan may not have an accurate record of past payments that may now qualify under the limited PSLF Waiver.

    Some borrowers are advising they achieved resolution only after submitting a Freedom of Information Act request for their payment history and then using that history to petition for reconsideration of qualifying payments. Many borrowers have had 2-3 loan servicers and each time the servicers changes, the borrower loses access to the prior online account and payment history.

    FedLoan is telling borrowers it could be many months before they perform an audit of past payments per the limited PSLF Waiver.

    And many borrowers are stressed at having to undergo yet another change in loan servicer right when payments are scheduled to resume.

    So I’m happy with the direction of the PSLF reform, but also frustrated that borrowers in the PSLF program are now having to jump through more red tape. If Biden had extended the Waiver to include providing PSLF credit for public service employees during past periods of forbearance (like he did for military in active service), many in the PSLF program could have seen their loans discharged overnight.

  6. When I took student loans out and paid my debt for 10 years it cost $1200.00 in tuition a YEAR to go to a major top 10 academic university in the United States. Today the minimum cost of a public state university can be well over $10,000.00 in tuition per year. You cannot compare an affordable college education 20-30 years ago to today’s students accumulating $40,000.00 to $80,000.00+ worth of debt with added interest on top of that.
    This program is also not “free”. Students have to make 120 payments (10 years’ worth) and serve in a career that benefits the public – not a corporation earning a profit for shareholders. Serving in the military is an admirable and honorable way to serve your country. However, it is not the only way to serve your country. Educating the next generation is as vital to the nation’s survival as is defending it from harm.
    Lastly, teachers’ salaries are among the lowest of all professionals who hold advanced college degrees and additional required certification. But maybe the people above are right. Maybe the solution isn’t partial debt forgiveness. Maybe the solution is to lower public university tuition so that students are able to pay off their debt and still buy a house and support a family – like we could when tuition was affordable 25 years ago. Or maybe the solution is to pay teachers a wage commensurate with their education, certification, expertise and value in educating the next generation of citizens and workers. If we did, they could actually afford to pay off 100% of their loans. Or maybe teachers should take the advice of Jim above, “If they find it difficult to pay their education bills, maybe they should change professions”. Let’s take Jim’s advice and discourage all of our bright, young high school and college students from choosing teaching as a profession since it will be very hard for them to pay off their massive student debt on a teacher’s salary. If that is society’s attitude towards teachers, then very soon there will be no more teachers. Let’s see how well that works out for the security and prosperity of the United States of America.

  7. Have you read that these people pay and serve? Do you not understand that basic addition and subtraction? I pay $400 every month, even through the Covid-19 forgiveness period. Still, because of interest, I will die before I am done repaying. I have been teaching in title one schools since 1999. Personally, I just need them to forgive some, not all of my loans. I WILL continue to pay till I die!

  8. I always take pause when someone claims victory. The press releases, and zoom town hall meetings blatantly said that EVERYBODY who has worked 10 years in public service, regardless of loan type… retroactive back to 2007, will be forgiven. Cancelled. Except for parent plus loans. And loans on forbearance before the pandemic. And this. And that. The president needs a win on this. So make sure this limited PSF waiver does what they say it does v. doing just enough for a small number of people… so they can claim victory.

  9. Yes, indeed, this is badly needed. I have already paid over 50% back on my loan. I am a part-time teacher and I have paid 50% of my loan already when it was under Navient. I have applied to have it forgiven with no success, which I do not understand as a public service employee making part-time income. Please help me with this.

    Thank you,

    Anthony Woods
    Part-time teacher for over 13 years verifiable.

  10. This country was stolen then built on the backs of Black, Indigenous, People Of Color (BIPOC) who denied them an education. When denial stopped working the cost was constant put out of reach and the only way to receive was for them to continue putting money into the pockets of the rich through loans with high interest rates. Only throwing Pennie’s at their feet through low paying jobs and jobs that discriminate against them and keep them from equal opportunities for advancement. It’s time Americans who so righteously say the Pledge of Allegiance to put their so called righteous hearts where their mouths are. One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty, and JUSTICE FOR ALL. Justice denied to one is justice denied to all. Every system in the USA is broken when it cannot show equity and equal opportunity for every American. Thank you NEA for your labor of love.

  11. Imagine taking a legally incurred loan. Then have taxpayers foot the bill. Then try to convince people you are a person of character. Sad

    1. You’re probably right. What did being educated ever do for you? Close down the whole mess so that the revenue stream can be put to good use fighting wars. Afghanistan awaits.

      1. Not probably. absolutely right. Wars and defense of the nation have nothing to do with not paying a loan a person incurred. But the person in charge of the nation at this time can not understand the truth of anything so he is being led around by a group of socialist pretenders.

        1. Next time you go to the BX to get your “gubmint” discount deals and not pay any sales taxes you think about what you said Marine Troll.

          1. Talk to me about trolling when you have seen friends die defending the rights of those who will leach off taxpayers

    2. Most student loan borrowers have paid thousands upon thousands of dollars, with the majority going to interest. Most student loan borrowers are hard working taxpayers and come from generations of hard working, tax paying Americans.

      Most student loan borrowers have not griped about having to foot the bills that subsidize the wealthy and corporate elite. Until now. Student loan borrowers are not rightfully asking that government provide us with much needed protection, resolution, and deserved remedies to a student loan system that has long been rigged against the poor and working class.

  12. For those saying this shouldn’t be happening, please remember that t was already promised and not delivered. Many people made life-altering financial decisions to be public servants with a promise that their choice to invest in their communities would at least be helped by the PSLF Program.
    This overhaul is helping to finally make good on that promise for some people.

    “ The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program is an important—but largely unmet—promise to provide debt relief to support the teachers, nurses, firefighters, and others serving their communities through hard work that is essential to our country’s success. By cancelling loans after 10 years of public service, PSLF removes the burden of student debt on public servants, makes it possible for many borrowers to stay in their jobs, and entices others to work in high-need fields.”


  13. I was denied access to the program 15 yrs ago. Never missed a payment then, and am still paying into the program only after being accepted 12 yrs later. I have been teaching in a title one school, and paying my loans for 15 years. I have had to defer a few months over that time. Those deferred months should not count, but the rest should. Navient was a joke. How do you prove you made those payments? They are no longer in the business. I don’t see much changing.

  14. Michael… So sorry you can’t share in the joy of so many of your fellow teachers. Your comments might be taken more seriously were they properly punctuated. Be well and good luck.

  15. “Any society that impedes the passing of its wisdom to its young is a sign of a society in decline.” Sad, but true, this has been a policy promoted in the USofA for the last 40 years – with its flattening of medium income and lowering of social mobility.

    “Free” college education to the WWII vets, created an expansion of wealth and knowledge for the next 20 years.

    We need to apply the actions of prior success and limit the actions of our failures to demonstrate learning from our past experiences.

    1. What about those of us who have tried to work in the public school system but don’t get hired because we don’t have the right connections. So we’re now working in the private sector. We should also be allowed to have our loans forgiven.

    2. Here are my thoughts as a teacher NEA should be more concerned about the districts trying to teach Is critical race theory which is wrong anything that is free is wrong no such thing is free there is always a cost no one gave me my education for free I paid for it for over 10 years of student loans

      1. So sorry you can’t share in the joy of so many of your fellow teachers. Your comments might be taken more seriously were they properly punctuated. Be well and good luck.

      2. Clearly you are not aware that Critical Race Theory is not taught at the K-12 educational level. NEA is not concerned with this because, it is a non-issue.

        I too am a teacher of over 16 years. Please do not continue to give false information without being thoroughly acquainted with the FACTS.

      3. Teaching truth about American history, the strengths and the weaknesses, is required for a just future for all of us.


    3. The term GI Bill refers to any Department of Veterans Affairs education benefit EARNED by members of Active Duty, Selected Reserve and National Guard members and their families. The benefit is designed to help service members and eligible veterans cover the costs associated with getting an education or training. The GI Bill has several programs and each is administrated differently — depending on a person’s eligibility and duty status. I think these service members, who put their lives on hold to serve a higher purpose for our great country, deserve to be helped in some way. People who take out a loan to learn a profession are investing in their future. Education is a commodity and not a right. With that said, the loan forgiveness program for Educators who didn’t put their lives on hold but borrowed as an investment on themselves and their productivity. If they find it difficult to pay their education bills, maybe they should change professions or work to better themselves and move up the ranks through hard work.

      1. Good for you Michael. Some of us are not that lucky to pay off our loans. Some of us don’t make enough money after getting that degree to pay it off. I have been struggling since 2000 tring to pay mine off, and the interest didn’t give me a break either.
        I agree that veterans should have support, but so do teachers, who gives everything to support our future.

      2. Really? Just change professions ? You clearly don’t understand the ramifications of such a statement. Overhauling PSLF is one baby step in the right direction to clean up the bureaucratic nightmare of predatory lending practices. How ironic that you can rely on a GI Bill to assist you in obtaining YOUR Education, yet those educating you have to change professions and move up the ranks through hard work? SMH.

        1. Change professions?? That’s exactly what I did, several times. After teaching only one year, I left the profession for 26 years. During that time, I paid back all my student loans. It was difficult, but I did it. I’m a better person for it. After 26 years, I did re-enter the teaching and taught until retirement. So don’t talk to me about something you haven’t a clue about. When the gov’t starting backing student loans, schools started charging more for tuition and books. Sorry, only the colleges and book mfg. made money.

          1. The government ought not to be in the individual loan business. Problem solved. Oh yeah, its not the government in the loan business, its working taxpayers. Maybe that moniker for these handouts might make people think about handing out loans that won’t be repaid, except by taxpayers.

          2. Did you ever stop to think that you may have robbed thousands of students of a quality education by bolting?

      3. Hard work doesn’t mean physically laboring over a task. To be a teacher you have to put in the time. The requirements as everyone here knows that have to be fulfilled. Anything we can do in this country to help teachers only benefits society as a whole. We should not lose teachers because they must “work hard.”

      1. I am an educator and have a Bachelors and Masters. I made it through the Bachelors with no debt, but needed help for the Masters, which I received in Federal student loans. In order to participate in PSLF, I was required to consolidate two loans at a HIGHER interest rate. I have more than paid the value of the principal, yet still owe most of the debt thanks to the interest. Many of my payments have not been counted towards the 120, though I have worked continuously for a school district. This program was a good idea, implemented very poorly. I am very optimistic about the pending changes, and would like to thank everyone involved.

  16. While it’s progress, it doesn’t do that much to help older borrowers who made years of payments prior to 2007. All payments made while teaching public school should be counted.

  17. YES! Now we must focus on saving our Democracy by voting in the 2022 elections. Stay strong and take action.

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