California Department of Justice renews commitment to helping employees access student loan relief with California Student Loan Debt Challenge
OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today urged Californians to take advantage of recent changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) programs. Last year, the Department of Education (ED) launched a limited-time PSLF Waiver Opportunity that runs through October 31, 2022, allowing eligible borrowers to receive credit for past payments made on loans that would otherwise not qualify under the PSLF program. This move by ED to improve the PSLF program followed a lawsuit and yearslong advocacy by state attorneys general and others urging ED to take robust action to fix the broken PSLF program. Following the resolution of the lawsuit, Attorney General Bonta has continued to advocate for changes to the PSLF program and today announced that the California Department of Justice will take part in the California Student Loan Debt Challenge to raise awareness about the PSLF program and help DOJ employees access loan forgiveness.
“Today, on behalf of the more than 5,000 public servants at the California Department of Justice, I’m proud to take the California Student Debt Challenge. As Attorney General, I have fought to expand access to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and I urge all eligible Californians to take advantage of this important opportunity,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Our public servants work day in and day out on behalf of the people of California as our nurses, teachers, first responders, state workers, and more. As students, they took out student loans only to find themselves weighed down by debt and denied the relief they were promised. My team has advocated for years for the Department of Education to fix this broken program, and with the recent changes under the Biden Administration, Californians are finally beginning to receive relief. If you are a public servant who holds federal student loan debt, I urge you to take advantage of the new PSLF Limited Waiver Opportunity before the October 31 deadline.”
Understanding if Your Past Periods of Repayment are Eligible Under the Limited PSLF Waiver
Under the temporary program rules, any past periods of repayment count as a qualifying payment, regardless of loan type, repayment plan, or whether or not you made a payment or the payment was made in full or on time. All you need is qualifying employment. This temporary change applies to student loan borrowers with Direct Loans, those who have already consolidated into the Direct Loan Program, and those who consolidate into the Direct Loan Program by Oct. 31, 2022.
There are two requirements in order to receive additional qualifying payments:
- Full-time employment: You must have worked full-time for a qualifying employer during the prior periods of repayment. If you were employed in more than one qualifying part-time job at the same time, you will be considered full-time if you worked a combined average of at least 30 hours per week. You can receive credit only for periods of repayment after Oct. 1, 2007, since that is when the PSLF program began. If you haven’t already, you must file a PSLF & TEPSLF Certification & Application for any period for which you may receive additional qualifying payments.
- Loan consolidation: If you have Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans, Federal Perkins Loans, or other types of federal student loans that are not Direct Loans, you must consolidate those loans into the Direct Loan program by Oct. 31, 2022.
How to Utilize the Limited PSLF Waiver
- If you have Direct Loans and you’ve already had some PSLF employment certified: ED will award any additional payments without further action from you. If necessary, Federal Student Aid may contact you to ask you to certify additional months of employment.
- If you know that you have qualifying employment that you have not yet certified with ED: You should certify that employment now by using the PSLF Help Tool at www.StudentAid.gov/pslf.
- If you currently have Direct Loans and have not yet applied for PSLF: You will need to submit a PSLF form so ED can review your loans under the new rules and determine whether your current or past employers qualify for PSLF. You can submit this form through the PSLF Help Tool at www.StudentAid.gov/PSLF. The deadline to submit an application is Oct. 31, 2022.
- If you have at least one federal student loan that is not a Direct Loan, such as a FFEL loan: You will need to submit a consolidation application and a PSLF form by Oct. 31, 2022 to ensure that payments made on loans that are not Direct Loans can be counted toward PSLF. Right now, ED recommends that you consolidate before using the PSLF Help Tool to certify employment. If you want to check your employer’s eligibility for PSLF before you consolidate, you can do so by logging into the PSLF Help Tool, which is available at www.StudentAid.gov/PSLF. If you have a mix of FFEL and Direct Loans, please refer to the sections above to understand how your Direct Loans will be affected.
- If you previously tried to certify employment for PSLF but were denied: You will need to submit a new form through the PSLF Help Tool to see if you can receive credit toward forgiveness. You can also see which employers ED has already deemed eligible through the PSLF Help Tool. Please note that this waiver does not affect qualifying employer rules. Your employer still needs to be a governmental organization, a 501(c)(3) organization, or a not-for-profit organization that provides a designated public service to get PSLF under normal rules and the Limited PSLF Waiver.
- If you don’t know what kind of federal loans you have: It’s very common for borrowers to not know what kind of federal loans they have. You can see what loans you have by logging into your account on www.StudentAid.gov, going to the My Aid page, and scrolling down to the Loan Breakdown section. There, you’ll see a list of each loan you have borrowed, even if you have paid the loan off or consolidated it into a new loan. Direct Loans begin with the word “Direct.” Federal Family Education Loans start with “FFEL,” and Perkins Loans include the word “Perkins” in the name.
You can find additional information and helpful tools regarding the PSLF Program at www.Studentaid.Gov/manage-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service. Additionally, you can find a fact sheet on ED’s updated PSLF program here.