A popular student loan forgiveness program is changing. Here’s how.


Teachers, social workers, and other public servants will soon have an easier time navigating a popular federal student debt relief program.

Starting in May, the Education Department will move away from having one contractor manage the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Instead, the agency will manage the debt relief effort through StudentAid.gov, the central hub for federal financial aid. The transition will help the department keep a closer eye on a program that has been criticized for being exceedingly complex and poorly managed.

The PSLF program, created in 2007, cancels the remaining loan balance of borrowers who work in certain nonprofit or government jobs for 10 years and make 120 monthly debt payments.

As the switch gets underway, the agency will temporarily pause processing applications. Here’s what you need to know about the changes.

What’s changing with PSLF?

The biggest change is who will manage the day-to-day operations of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Rather than assign that task to a single student loan servicer — an intermediary who collects payments on the government’s behalf — the Education Department is splitting up the work between several contractors.

The companies will work to track a borrower’s progress toward loan forgiveness as well as field complaints, provide support, and process applications through the StudentAid.gov website.

These changes will also apply to the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, a federal program that provides money to students willing to work in high-needs schools or teach high-needs subjects for four years.

Why is this happening?

The changes are part of a broader effort to overhaul the servicing of student loans and transition borrowers to a single Federal Student Aid-branded repayment portal.

Many of the same contractors who run the government’s $1.6 trillion student loan portfolio — such as EdFinancial, Advantage, and Nelnet — will support borrowers working toward PSLF behind the scenes. The move is designed to give the department more direct oversight and control of the program.

Until now, one student loan servicer has been responsible for all facets of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to ensure consistency. Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance, which also operates as FedLoan Servicing, held the role for 12 years until it bowed out of federal servicing in 2021. The company had faced withering criticism of its administration of the program, including separate lawsuits from the New York and Massachusetts attorneys general.

The Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority, which took over in 2022, hasn’t fared much better. Borrowers have complained about inaccurate payment counts, lengthy call wait times and delays in processing applications. MOHELA is fighting a class-action lawsuit filed by irate borrowers pursuing PSLF. The company and its predecessor have said servicing problems in the program are a function of the convoluted design and poor communication from the Education Department.

Under the new platform, MOHELA will remain involved in some aspects of PSLF but alongside other loan servicers.

How will these changes benefit borrowers?

The new platform on StudentAid.gov will give borrowers access to a streamlined dashboard to track their payment count and forgiveness application status. They will be able to electronically sign and submit forms, get reminders to certify their employment, and apply for reconsideration of a rejected application in one place.

More functions of the program will be automated, which should result in faster processing. For example, borrowers who want to pursue PSLF will no longer have to wait for their accounts to be transferred to a servicer for the program.

What should borrowers expect during the transition period?

While the Education Department transitions to its new system, the agency will pause the processing of all forms for PSLF between May and July.

Borrowers who have hit the 120 payment threshold or need to certify that their employment qualifies for the program can still submit information during the pause, but it will not be processed until the transition period is over, according to the department. Payment counts will not be updated on the website during this time but will be reflected on StudentAid.gov once the transition is completed.

Once the transition gets underway, borrowers will no longer be able to access information about their progress, payment counts, or certified employment on MOHELA’s portal. The Education Department advises borrowers to access the portal before April 30 to save screenshots and correspondences for their personal records.

Payments are still due during the transition.

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