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Who Qualifies for the Student Loan Forgiveness Program?

You may be eligible after 10 years as a public service worker. But the rules are complicated.


I am a police officer, and I'm wondering whether I qualify for the student loan forgiveness program for public service employees. How does the program work?

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Certain public service workers can have their remaining student loan balance forgiven after working full-time for an eligible organization for 10 years. But the eligibility requirements are complicated.

As a police officer, you may be able to take advantage of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. You must work full-time for a federal, state or local government, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, or a private not-for-profit organization (not a labor union or partisan political organization) that provides emergency management, military service, public safety, law enforcement, early childhood education or other qualifying services (see this fact sheet for a full list of the types of employers that qualify). Note that you can qualify based on where you work rather than your type of job.

You have to make 120 monthly payments before the remaining balance on your loans can be forgiven. Only federal direct student loans count. You can consolidate other loans, such as Perkins loans, into a direct consolidation loan, but the 120-month clock starts ticking after you consolidate the loans; any payments you made before that don't count. Only payments made after October 1, 2007, qualify. Your loan payments can't be more than 15 days late, and you must be enrolled in a qualifying repayment plan, such as an income-based repayment plan or the 10-year standard repayment plan.


The Department of Education will let you know how many qualifying payments you've made so far if you submit an Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness form. You aren't required to submit the form until you make the 120 payments and apply for loan forgiveness. But it's a good idea to submit the form every few years and whenever you change employers so you can keep track of your status.

For more information about the criteria and procedure, see the Department of Education's Public Service Loan Forgiveness program page and its fact sheet.

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