An illustration of public service loan forgiveness, with a graduation cap, a price tag, and a pair of scissors.

Editor’s note: At Idealist, we consider ourselves 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 to find additional resources. We encourage you to visit Federal Student Aid’s Help Center with any questions or for assistance with Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

As the most comprehensive source of nonprofit jobs around, we also know a thing or two about nonprofit professionals. So we’re aware that for many of us in the sector, pursuing a career in a mission-driven environment can mean putting passion over payout—or delaying our ability to pay off student loan debt.

The average borrower takes out nearly $30,000 in student loans, a majority of which are for undergraduate degrees. Since federal student loans currently make up 92% of all outstanding student loan debt, the Department of Education has launched several initiatives to help borrowers reach debt relief faster. One that appeals specifically to social-impact professionals is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

If you or any other social-impact professionals at your organization are struggling to manage student loan debt, please read and share the resources we’ve compiled below about the 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.

To spread awareness about the program, Idealist sat down with Senior Advisor Ashley Harrington from the Office of Federal Student Aid for a webinar on all things PSLF. Watch a recording of the webinar on Idealist's YouTube channel, and find answers to common questions about PSLF below.

Remember that Idealist is always striving to best support you on your social-impact journey. We hope you found the above resources helpful for managing your student loan debt. Please share this information with any colleagues who may benefit from PSLF.


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