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Student Loan Debt Relief for Social Workers

The Department of Education has overhauled the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program through a waiver. The waiver will run through October 31, 2022. Borrowers will need to submit a PSLF form which is a single application used to review employment certification, payment counts and processing of forgiveness. This must be done no later than October 31, 2022.

Public service professionals which includes social workers with the Department of Veterans Affairs may be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). PSLF provides a means to meet the promise to provide debt relief for public service employees such as DVA social workers by cancelling loans after 10 years of public service. PSLF removes the burden of student debt on public service employees and makes it possible for many borrowers to stay on their jobs. AVASW joins NASW in applauding the Biden Administration for these long overdue reforms.

It is noted that Master’s graduates, on average, have 50% more debt than they did 10 years ago. The average loan debt amount as of 2019 is $45,591 compared to $30,789 in 2009. It is noted that 76.1% of all master’s graduate have loan debt.

In order to qualify for a for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) a borrower must make 120 “qualifying payments” while employed full-time for a qualifying public service employer. With the waiver additional payments will now qualify that had previously been ineligible. Under the new, temporary rules, any prior period of repayment will count as a qualifying payment, regardless of loan program, repayment plan, or whether the payment was made in full or on time.

The following PSLF requirements have not changed:

Making 120 Qualifying payments or the equivalent

Being employed by government, 501(c)(3) not-for profit, or other not-for-profit organization that provide a qualifying service

Working full-time

Having Direct Loans or consolidate into Direct Consolidation Loans

Certifying qualifying employment for the period time for which you want credit toward PSFL

Summary of the Key Changes to Allow for Loan Forgiveness:

For a limited time, you may receive credit for past periods of repayment on loans that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF

If you have FFEL, Perkins, or other federal student loans, you will need to consolidate your loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify for PSLF both in general and under the waiver.

Past periods of repayment will now count regardless of whether you made a payment, made that payment on time, for the full amount due, on a qualifying payment plan

Periods of deferment or forbearance, and periods of default, continue to not qualify.

In order to verify your loan types, consolidate your loans and certify eligibility for employment log in to and use the PSLF Help Tool to generate a PSLF form, have your employer sign the certificate and submit the signed forms to FEDloans by October 31, 2022.

Stan Remer, LCSW

AVASW Congressional and Legislative Liaison

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