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Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses

Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses

Are you a nurse or medical technician?

Because you heal people, the federal government wants to make your bank account healthier. Student loan forgiveness for nurses is a thing and something you may be eligible for. If that sounds too good to be true, it’s not. You might actually get a huge chunk of your student loan balance surgically removed.

Of course, this being the government, there are lots of rules. You must have federal student loans, and you must work in the public sector. Even then, you need to make 120 on time payments first.

There are some other hoops to jump through, too. You can save thousands of dollars if you do. Want to know the details in plain English? Debt.com will break it down for you.

4 secrets to ensuring you meet the qualification requirements for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) as a nurse or medical technician.

Pubic Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a government program that offers a path to federal student loan forgiveness for nurses or “public servants”. This can include nurses and other medical technicians that work in the public sector. If you work for a city, municipal or county hospital, there’s a strong chance you can qualify for student loan forgiveness for nurses… if you qualify correctly.

Debt.com can connect you with a certified student loan specialist that can help you make a plan to eliminate your student loan debt!

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The instructions below offer guidance on how to meet four critical criteria for PSLF qualification as a nurse. You can learn more about loan forgiveness, in general, through Debt.com’s main information page for PSLF.

Secret to Qualifying #1:You must have the right types of loans to enroll in the right federal repayment plan

PSLF only applies to federal student loans taken out through either the Federal Direct or FFEL student loan program. You can also include Stafford and even Perkins loans if you consolidate them with your other Direct or FFEL debts. In other words, you may need to consolidate using something like a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan first.

Once you have your loans consolidated, you must enroll in a federal hardship-based student loan repayment plan. You have three options:

  1. Income Based Repayment (IBR)
  2. Income Contingent Repayment (ICR)
  3. Pay as You Earn (PayE)

These programs match your student loan payments to your income level and family size. This makes it easier to keep up with the payments even on a limited budget. To qualify, your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) must be no more than 150% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) in your state for your family size.

As you can see, there are several gateways you must pass through to even become eligible for PSLF. You must at least enroll in one of the hardship-based repayment plans. In some cases, you may need to consolidate first to ensure all your debts qualify for forgiveness.

And the hoops don’t stop there…

Secret to Qualifying #2: You must be employed in the public service sector

Public Service Loan Forgiveness only applies if you work in the public sector. Student loan forgiveness for nurses is possible if you work as a Registered Nurse at the local county hospital. If you do then you most likely qualify. However, an RN who works at a private nursing home facility would not qualify because it’s a private company.

If you’re unsure if you work in a position that qualifies forgiveness, fill out the Employment Certification Form through StudentAid.gov. This can help you certify that your employment qualifies. It’s recommended that you should re-certify each year or at least anytime you change jobs. This gives you the best assurance that you will qualify for PSLF after all this work.

Note: The Department of Education does not require annual certification for you to qualify for forgiveness. If you have faith that your employment qualifies, you can skip certification if you really want to do so. It’s just not recommended.

Secret to Qualifying #3: If you do everything right, the federal government will forgive your balances after 120 qualified payments

That’s right. If you do everything right and start immediately, the earliest you will qualify for PSLF will be in 10 years. You must make 120 qualified payments to the federal repayment plan you choose. You can even switch to a different hardship-based repayment plan, as long as you stay in one of the programs listed above.

So, if you enroll in an IBR and then decide to switch to PayE because your payments are still too high, you still qualify for PSLF and the clock doesn’t reset. Continue making payments and after 120 you can officially apply for PSLF.

During that time, you can also switch jobs, but you must maintain employment in the public sector. Again, your safest bet is to re-certify your new position through the Employment Certification form.

It’s also important to note that “qualified payment” can mean a few things. It primarily refers to a scheduled payment that you make on time. However, in some cases depending on your repayment plan, you may also qualify to not make a payment.

For example, let’s say you enroll in PayE. If your income is 75% or less than the FPL in your state, your payments may be reduced or eliminated.  You pay $0, but the federal government credits that you made a qualified payment. Your balances don’t change, but you avoid penalties and maintain eligibility for PSLF. This usually only happens on PayE. Payments that you miss during forbearance or deferment do not count as qualified payments. To say the least, it’s complicated.

Secret to qualifying #4: All the rules listed above could change if the DOE decides to amend or cancel PSLF entirely

The final secret to qualifying for PSLF is also the most startling… and troubling. PSLF is a government relief program – some would say an “entitlement” program. That means that the program is subject to change by the federal government. The current administration under Betsy DeVos, is already making adjustments to the program.

Under Obama’s administration, PSLF expanded so more people were eligible. That’s why PSLF is often called “Obama Student Loan Forgiveness” even though the program originated under President Bush in 2007. However, since you must make 10 years of qualified payments, the first nurses to qualify only became eligible for student loan forgiveness in October 2017.

So far, the Trump administration has limited the employment positions that qualify PSLF. Even if you previously certified your employment, you may no longer be eligible. There are reports of people that maintained ongoing Employment Certification, who now say they’ve been rejected. Public professionals including nurses have been holding their breath to see if their colleagues actually qualify for student loan forgiveness.

A report by the Department of Education reveals that 99% of the 29,000 PSLF applications processed since October 2017 have been rejected. Only 289 were approved. One third were rejected for incomplete paperwork. But the other two-thirds were denied for not meeting program requirements, from not having the right loans to not being enrolled in the right repayment plan.

This shows how critical it is to follow the requirements for PSLF qualification exactly. And this is where working with a professional student debt resolution specialist can help. Loan servicers are notoriously bad about providing the information that borrowers need to qualify for PSLF. So, you often need a third-party that can help you navigate the paperwork and process.

Article last modified on September 25, 2018. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Student Loan Forgiveness for Nurses - AMP.