Graduating from college is a feat to celebrate, until the recent grads receive their first loan payment. Then panic sets in.
Approximately 70 percent of college students graduate with a sizable loan debt. According to CNBC, more than 44 million U.S. college grads are facing almost $1.5 trillion in student debt. The government intends to alleviate that financial load for those who are working in the public service in positions such as police officer, teacher, nurse, and social worker.
After 10 years of working in a chosen public sector, government employees with a relevant college degree could be eligible for student loan forgiveness, eradicating approximately $58,000 in loan debt. Sounds great, right?
Except that out of the 41,000 estimated public service workers who sought federal loan forgiveness, the government only approved 206 applicants.
The form to be filled out consists of just two pages, reports USA Today, but it's actually confusing. And, government employees interested in applying to have their college loans forgiven 10 years after graduating might have taken a misstep along the way that renders them ineligible, which one graduate learned the hard way, NPR reported.
"I thought, 'Oh great, I must qualify for this program,'" said Sarah Krainin, who used loans to pay for her undergraduate and master's degree -- and now teaches at a nonprofit public university in California. "And I asked my servicer at the time, 'Am I gonna qualify for [PSLF]?' And they said, 'Yes, you have federal loans. You qualify.'"
She didn't.The U.S. Department of Education encourages borrowers to submit an employment certification form every year -- or every time he or she changes jobs. The rules for qualifying for public service loan forgiveness is set by the loan issuer and cannot be waived, but borrowers claim that they have been lied to about their eligibility for the program by loan servicers.
College graduates must make sure they are working in a public service job as defined by law at a full-time level, which includes the military, public safety, law enforcement, Peace Corps or Americorps, public education, social work, public interest legal services, public or school-based libraries, and any work at a tax-exempt public charity established under 501(c)(3). What doesn't qualify? Labor unions, partisan political organizations, and for-profit organizations.
Only direct loans from the U.S. Department of Education are eligible. What isn't? Stafford loans, Perkins loans, and Parent PLUS loans. Only certain repayment plans are eligible, too, which includes pay as you earn, revised pay as you earn, income-based repayment plan, income-contingent repayment plan, and the temporary expanded public service loan forgiveness plan.