Tens of thousands of people across Michigan may qualify for student loan forgiveness, and may not even know it.
Coming off the heels of President Joe Biden announcing up to $20,000 in federal student loan forgiveness and the extension of the pause on payments through Dec. 31, we're looking at the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. It was recently expanded to reach the needs of more people — including teachers.
Krista Falk, a special education teacher at Richmond High School, has a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees — and over $200,000 in student loan debt.
"I've been going to college since 2006, and those interest rates were 11% and 12%, and they were compounding monthly," Falk said.
Last fall, she found out she's now eligible for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, or PSLF.
The U.S. Department of Education is giving many public servants working in government and eligible non-profits a second chance to qualify for student loan forgiveness, but they only have until Oct. 31, 2022, to get a PSLF waiver to receive credit for past periods of repayment that would not qualify.
Liza Estlund Olson, the director of the Office of the State Employer, is encouraging people not to wait.
"How many people in Michigan are eligible for this?" I asked Estlund Olson.
"It's around 150,000 we think. But even if people aren't sure they're eligible, they should apply," she replied.
To qualify, you must:
- Be employed by a U.S. federal, state, local or tribal government or not-for-profit organization. Military is included
- Work full-time for that organization
- Have Direct Loans under an income-driven repayment plan
- Have made 120 qualifying payments
"After you’ve made those 120 payments, anything that’s left is forgiven," Olson said.
According to the Office of Federal Student Aid's June report, over 6,000 Michiganders have taken advantage of the PSLF waiver and have had $358 million in loans forgiven.
If you're not sure you're eligible to apply, visit studentaid.gov and follow the prompts. The site is receiving a high volume of visitors due to President Biden's announcement about other debt forgiveness measures on August 24, so you may experience some delays when checking on the PSLF.
Or you can call MOHELA – the loan servicer — to ask questions The number is 1-855-265-4038.