If you’re a student-loan borrower working in public service, the deadline to access limited relief is quickly approaching.
When President Joe Biden took office, 98% of applicants were being denied relief through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which is intended to forgive student debt for government and nonprofit workers after ten years of qualifying payments. Given the program’s mismanagement, the Education Department last year announced reforms to PSLF, included a limited-time waiver through October 31, 2022 that allows any past payments to count toward forgiveness progress, including those previously deemed ineligible.
That deadline is just two months away, and the administration is encouraging borrowers to apply before the expiration date.
“Teachers! You have until October 31st to apply for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program with the waiver that allows more people to qualify. Don’t be like our students and put it off until the last minute!” First Lady Jill Biden wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.
There’s no doubt that the waiver has been a success. Hours before Biden announced up to $20,000 in student-loan forgiveness for federal borrowers making under $125,000 a year, the Education Department released data showing that the waiver alone has brought 175,000 borrowers $10 billion in relief so far. But advocates, and even White House officials, have expressed concerns that not everyone can access the benefits before the deadline.
Federal Student Aid Director Richard Cordray, for example, said in June that he was “pushing hard to get approval if we can get it extended.” But during a PSLF roundtable hosted by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) on Wednesday, Deputy Education Secretary Cindy Marten did not indicate any extension of the waiver was in the works and encouraged borrowers to apply before the “fast approaching” deadline.
Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT, told Insider that while she is continuing to push for the administration to extend the waiver, there could be “regulatory obstacles” that come with extending the waiver past a year, but she cited a settlement the AFT recently reached with the Education Department that could extend the waiver’s benefits past October 31.
“I hope they extend the waiver. I think it’s important to do, but I think the settlement we reached creates many of the benefits that the waiver has got it and I believe that will be helpful in all respects,” Weingarten said.
Specifically, the October settlement requires the department to reconsider previously denied applications and give borrowers a detailed response as to why they were denied, allowing them to potentially reapply and qualify for PSLF. For now, borrowers who think they might qualify for PSLF can learn more about their eligibility and submit an online form to apply at studentaid.gov.