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Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

August 18, 2021

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If you aspire to work in the public service sector, you’ll find that the reward is not only emotional – but possibly monetary as well. That’s because the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 established a program that forgives some federal student loans under certain circumstances.

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Program Summary

This federal program provides forgiveness for the remaining balance (principal and interest) of Direct Loans after the borrower makes qualifying payments covering 120 separate monthly payments, while working in a qualifying public service position.

Eligibility Requirements

There are three areas of qualification that need to be met simultaneously, over a period of 120 months or 10-years. During this time, progress towards PSLF can be halted and resumed as needed – meaning the 120 months of payments and work do not have to be consecutive during the 10-year period. Qualifications include eligible loans, eligible payments and qualifying employment. 

Eligible Loans: Any non-defaulted loan made under the Direct Loan program may be eligible, including:

  • Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct PLUS Loans
  • Direct Consolidation Loans

Other federal student loans that could be made eligible, by including in a Direct Consolidation Loan, include the following:  

  • Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) Stafford, PLUS, and Consolidation Loans
  • Federal Perkins Loans
  • Certain Health Professions and Nursing Loans

Only payments made towards eligible loans will count as a part of the required 120 payments needed for forgiveness.

Eligible Payments: Borrowers are required to make payments to cover 120 separate monthly payments while enrolled in an eligible repayment plan. Eligible repayment plans include the following plans:

For answers to commonly asked questions about PSLF, review the Federal Student Aid website. Use the PSLF Help Tool to search for a qualifying employer, learn what you may need to do to qualify for PSLF, and complete the PSLF form to keep track of  your progress.

Qualifying Work:

Borrowers must be employed full-time (at least 30 hours per week) in a qualifying public service position (a) during the period in which he or she made 120 monthly payments, (b) at the time of application for loan forgiveness, and (c) at the time the remaining principal and interest are forgiven.

Qualifying public service employment includes work in 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, government organizations, and/or other not-for-profit organizations that provide certain types of qualifying public service. This type of employment could include work at qualifying medical schools and teaching hospitals, employment with AmeriCorps or Peace Corps, military service, public health, public safety, and other similar types of employments. More details can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.

Additional PSLF Resources:
PSLF Infographic
PSLF Booklet

The Current State of PSLF (video)
PSLF Checklist
Income-Driven Repayment Plans and PSLF

Questions to Consider When Evaluating Residency Programs

  • Does your potential residency location qualify as a “non-profit organization”?
  • Will it meet the criteria for this loan forgiveness program?

The best way to find out the answers to these questions is to ask during your interview. The answers you receive may help you decide where you want to do your residency. The PSLF Help Tool may also help you with determining if your potential employer may qualify as an eligible employer. 

Use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Form to indicate your interest in the PSLF program. This form will also track your eligible PSLF employment so it should be submitted annually and immediately before and after a change in employment.

PSLF is in the news. Discussion is on-going regarding the continuation of the program in its current state. The AAMC is collecting examples of why students plan to enter PSLF.  Submit your PSLF story here.

Review recorded webinars on PSLF and other repayment topics at

Disclaimer: This fact sheet provides a summary of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and is intended as general information only. See the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Checklist for more details. The information in this document is based on federal regulations and is subject to change.

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