Ensuring you have qualifying loans is the first of several steps. The next is assessing whether your employer counts as a qualifying employer.
Generally speaking, if you work full time for a U.S. federal organization, or a state, local or tribal government or nonprofit organization, you may qualify for PSLF. This includes military service and volunteer service with AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps.
The list of qualifying employers is relatively short. Labor unions, for example, don’t count, and neither do partisan political organizations. For-profit organizations are obviously not in the public-service sector, and this includes for-profit government contractors.
Remember, it’s not about your job title or role. It’s about who your employer is. It’s also about your schedule. Full-time work is at least 30 hours per week or your employer’s definition of full-time work. (Unfortunately, the greater of these two is what counts.) You can also cobble together part-time jobs, assuming they’re all for qualifying employers and your hours add up to 30 or more per week.
If both your loan and your employer get the green light on qualifications, it’s time to look at your repayment plan. To be eligible for PSLF, your payments must be:
- Part of an income-driven repayment plan
- Made on time while you’re working full time (not when you’re still in school or during a grace period, deferment or forbearance period)
One potential surprise: The payments don’t have to be consecutive. So, if you work for a qualifying employer, then a nonqualifying employer, and then a qualifying employer again, you can still qualify for PSLF.
Curious how this stacks up across the country? This interactive map of the U.S. offers a way to visualize by state the number and percentages of public service employees who have student debt and who’ve had debt canceled under PSLF.