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Everything to Know About Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

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Jaxx Artz

Illustration of a graduation cap with scissors cutting a dollar sign.
Illustration by Marian Blair

Editor’s note: At Idealist, we’re experts in the social-impact sector. But what we’re not experts on is student loan forgiveness. The objective of the following piece is to offer a general overview of the program and to point you in the right direction for additional resources. We encourage you to visit Federal Student Aid’s Help Center for any questions or assistance with Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

For recent college grads, pursuing a career in a mission-driven environment often means putting passion over payout. But with student loan debt on the rise, and the average borrower taking out nearly $30,000 in loans, social-impact professionals may struggle to pay off their remaining balance decades after they graduate.

For this reason, the Department of Education launched the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

What is the PSLF program?

PSLF was initiated in October 2007 to forgive the student loan debt of borrowers working in the public or nonprofit sectors based on certain requirements. As part of the program, borrowers who work for a qualifying employer can have their remaining debt forgiven after making 120 payments toward their Federal Direct Loans using a qualifying repayment plan.

Student loan debt is a major source of stress that has a negative impact on mental health, and the COVID-19 pandemic presented even more challenges for borrowers. To address some of these challenges, the Department of Education rolled out a series of changes concerning student loans. Now, nearly a million borrowers have gotten $68 billion in forgiveness under PSLF, thanks to regulatory changes and an improved application process.

To share more about the program, Idealist organized a webinar with Kaitlyn Vitez, the Higher Education Liaison at the U.S. Department of Education. Watch a recording of the webinar on Idealist's YouTube channel, and find answers to common questions about PSLF below.

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Jaxx Artz

I oversee the content and resources we share at Idealist to help organizations, prospective grad students, and job seekers make an impact in their personal and professional lives. In my spare time, I love to read, cook, and explore NYC's parks.

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