(NEXSTAR) – About 145,000 federal student loan borrowers have received $8.1 billion in relief thanks to changes to a federal loan forgiveness program, according to the latest data from the Department of Education.

The Wall Street Journal reports that $8.1 billion in debt relief has been approved since October, when the Department of Education made a number of changes to the civil service loan forgiveness program.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, or PSLF, was created in 2007 to help employees of nonprofits and government organizations cancel their student loans after ten years of payments (120 payments in total). The overall approval rating among applicants was low – only 1 in 5 of the 1.3 million borrowers seeking debt relief through the PSLF were on track for relief by 2026, according to a September 2021 report from The Washington Post.

In 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced a change that temporarily waives specific PSLF requirements to provide borrowers with credit toward loan forgiveness, regardless of their federal loan type or they had been enrolled in a specific payment plan. This waiver is currently due to expire after October 31, 2022.

A recent report from the Student Borrower Protection Center found that more than nine million public service workers are likely eligible for debt forgiveness under the PSLF program, but have not yet filed the paperwork to start the program. process. According to the SBPC, California, Texas, Florida and New York have the most public service workers with student loan debt.

PSLF diplomas

As explained above, the PSLF aims to grant eligible civil servants debt forgiveness after a certain number of payments.

Eligible borrowers must:

  • Be employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or nonprofit organization (federal service includes U.S. military service)
  • Work full-time for this agency or organization
  • Have direct loans (or consolidate other federal student loans into one direct loan)
  • Make 120 qualifying payments

Under the current PSLF exemption, eligible borrowers can receive credit for payments made on other types of loans, under any payment plan, before consolidation or after the due date. . Those who have received the Teacher Loan Forgiveness can apply for the period of service that led to their PSLF eligibility, if they can certify PSLF employment for that period.

How to determine if you qualify

The first step in determining your eligibility is to visit the FSA website and log into your account. You will be able to search for your employer in the FSA database and add information about your employment. Once you have found your employer, you will be able to see if they are eligible for the PSLF.

Next, according to SBPC’s step-by-step guide, you’ll want to determine what type of federal student loan you have. Direct loans are eligible for the PSLF while other loans must be consolidated into a direct consolidation loan. Until the end of October 2022, previous eligible payments you have made on a non-direct loan will count towards the 120 necessary payments that PSLF requires for forgiveness.

Once you have completed the steps above, you will need to confirm your employment. You should then be able to submit your PSLF form.

The FSA has created a help tool to guide borrowers in completing the form.

Who is eligible for already approved student loan forgiveness?

Although widespread student loan forgiveness has yet to become a reality, some US borrowers have already received debt relief. About 1.3 million borrowers have seen $25 billion in student debt forgiveness since President Biden took office.

In addition to the thousands of borrowers who received debt forgiveness under the revamped PSLF program, another 690,000 borrowers have seen a total of $7.9 billion in student loans wiped out by discharges due to borrower defense and school closures. More than 400,000 borrowers have received more than $8.5 billion in debt forgiveness through total and permanent disability release.

Last week, the Biden administration agreed to forgive $6 billion in federal student debt for about 200,000 borrowers in a proposed class action settlement. Borrowers say their college defrauded them and their requests for relief from the Department of Education have been delayed for years.

Biden is expected to announce his plans for more widespread student debt forgiveness in July or August.

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