Get student loan forgiveness faster through these new changes.
Here’s what you need to know — and what it means for your student loans.
If you’re hoping that President Joe Biden cancels your student loans imminently, you may be in luck. Biden is considering wide-scale student loan forgiveness for millions of student loan borrowers. This potential one-time student loan cancellation, while not guaranteed, could be a life-changing, financial event for you. However, there may be qualifications to get student loan forgiveness, which means that millions of student loan borrowers may not qualify. So, how can you still get student loan forgiveness? If you’re pursuing public service loan forgiveness, then these changes could help you get student loan forgiveness faster.
Student loan forgiveness: limited waiver
In October, Biden announced major changes to student loan forgiveness, which could benefit millions of student loan borrowers. These new rules are separate from potential wide-scale student loan forgiveness, and are available now for borrowers who are pursuing public service loan forgiveness. Until October 31, 2022, there is a limited waiver for student loan forgiveness. This limited waiver allows you to “count” any previous student loan payments that weren’t eligible for student loan forgiveness. Here’s how you can benefit:
- Late payments: count student loan payments that were late or were partial student loan payments;
- Student loan repayment plans: count student loan payments made under any student loan repayment plan;
- Student loan consolidation: count student loan payments made prior to student loan consolidation, even if you were on the wrong repayment plan;
- FFEL and Perkins Loans: Get “credit” for for student loan forgiveness whether you made payments for a Direct, FFEL or Perkins Loan; and
- Employment: get student loan forgiveness even if not you’re employed or not employed by a qualifying employer at the time of application and forgiveness.
These student loan changes are a game-changer for student loan forgiveness because they relax the rules for borrowers. As a result, more borrowers will qualify for student loan forgiveness faster in a program that historically rejected approximately 98% of student loan borrowers.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is one of the best ways to get student loan forgiveness. To qualify, you must work full-time for a qualified public service or non-profit employer, enroll in an income-driven repayment plan such as IBR, PAYE, REPAYE or ICR, and make at least 120 monthly student loan payments. Federal student loan payments have been paused since March 2020. So, borrowers who have been pursuing public service loan forgiveness since then already received more than two years of “credit” toward student loan forgiveness — without being required to make a single federal student loan payment. This means these borrowers have completed 20% of student loan payment requirements without having to pay a single dollar of their federal student loans.
Student loan cancellation: how to get the waiver
The U.S. Department of Education is allowing you to get “credit” for previously ineligible student loan payments. How? The Biden administration is relying on the Heroes Act of 2003, which allows the secretary of education to waive certain rules for federal student loans during a national emergency such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s how to get the limited waiver for student loan forgiveness:
- The U.S. Department of Education will review your student loan account if you have at least one Direct Loan and at least one approved Employment Certification.
- You should file an Employment Certification at least annually and whenever you change jobs to confirm that you work for a qualified employer. Contact your student loan servicer or the U.S. Department of Education for details.
- The Education Department will identify student loan payments that qualify under the limited waiver and instruct FedLoan Servicing to update your account with the new qualifying student loan payments.
Importantly, you should double-check your qualifying student loan payment total to ensure that it comports with your own calculation.
Student loans: next steps
Since becoming president, Biden has canceled $17 billion of student loans. This includes $6.8 billion for public servants for 113,000 for student loan borrowers. Expect more student loan borrowers to qualify for student loan forgiveness in the coming months. Every student loan borrower won’t qualify for student loan forgiveness, however. That’s why it’s essential to learn all your options for student loan repayment. Here are some popular ways to save money on your student loans:
- Student loan refinancing (lower interest rate + lower payment)
- Income-driven repayment (lower payment)
- Student loan forgiveness (federal student loans)