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Student Loan Forgiveness

Nationally, Americans owe $1.2 trillion in student loans.  Delaware ranks first in the nation in the average amount of debt per college graduate.  The news seems depressing—but there is now a way for public sector employees, like educators, to walk away from student loan debt without making another payment through a federal loan forgiveness program.

Here’s what you need to know about three possible loan repayment and forgiveness options available to graduates:

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

What is Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)?

The purpose of this federal program is to support people in public service jobs, like teaching. Under this program, qualified employees with student loan debt may be eligible for loan forgiveness on the remaining balance of their Direct Loans after making 120 on-time, full, scheduled monthly payments.

Borrowers must make those payments using a qualified repayment plan, and only payments made after October 1, 2007 qualify.

How do I enroll in Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

Print and fill out the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Employment Certification Form.

  • Section 4 of the form must be filled out by the employer.

Submit the form to U.S. Department of Education FedLoan Servicing:

P.O. Box 69184
Harrisburg, PA 17106-9184

Borrowers may also submit the PSLF Employment Certification form via fax: 717-720-1628.

What are on-time full, separate monthly payments?

On-time payments are received no later than 15 days after the scheduled payment due date. Full payments meet or exceed the amount you’re required to pay each month under your agreed upon repayment schedule. Scheduled payments are those made under a qualifying repayment plan after the servicer of your federal loan has billed you for the month’s payment. They do not include payments made while your loans are in deferment or forbearance.

What kinds employment qualify and how is full-time defined?

Anyone who is employed with a federal, state, or local government agency, entity, or organization or a tax exempt not-for-profit organization qualifies. Educators fall into this category and do qualify. You must, however, be a full-time employee which for the purposes of the program is defined as working at least an annual average of 30 hours per week. If you are an educator under contract for at least 8 out of 12 months you meet the full time standard if you work an average of at least 30 hours per week during the contractual period.

I think I qualify. How can I sign up?

Head over to the Federal Student Aid website to sign up.

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Income-Driven Repayment Options

Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans base monthly student loan payments on a borrower's income.  The following are the primary Income-Driven Repayment plans: 

  • Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
  • Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
  • Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) 

Enroll in an Income-Driven Repayment Plan

Borrowers can use their Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID and the Repayment Estimator to determine their eligibility to enroll in an IDR plan:

  1. Register for a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID:
  2. Log into the Repayment Estimator with FSA ID:
  3. Enter adjusted gross income (AGI) and family size into the Repayment Estimator to determine IDR plan eligibility.
  4. Apply for an IDR plan online: Paper applications can be found here:
  5. Once enrolled in an IDR plan, borrowers must annually recertify their income to remain enrolled in their chosen plan. Loan servicers will not remind borrowers to recertify their income. Borrowers who fail to recertify will be removed from their IDR plan.

IDR-Eligible Federal Student Loans

Borrowers may have federal loans that are not eligible for an IDR plan in their current form. Some IDR plans require borrowers to consolidate loans to become eligible for an IDR plan.

Obtain Federal Student Loan Information

Borrowers can identify loan type, disbursement date and loan servicer at the National Student Loan Data System with their FSA ID.

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Income-Based Repayment Options

Currently, approximately 1.86 million people are enrolled in Income Based Repayment.

IBR ties the size of your monthly loan payment to your income and family size.
To qualify for IBR, you must show “partial financial hardship,” by showing that IBR would lower your monthly payments to an amount less than a standard repayment plan. 

  • Most federal loans under the Ford Federal Direct Loan Program or Federal Family Education Loan Program are eligible for IBR.
  • Loans that are not eligible include PLUS Loans made to parents and private loans.

Once approved, monthly payments under IBR are:

  • Always lower than payments on a 10-year standard plan
  • Adjusted yearly for changes in family size or income
  • Made over a period of 25 years

While IBR generally means more long-term interest, in some cases the government will pay accrued interest or limit the capitalization of interest.

Even borrowers using IBR may qualify for 25-year forgiveness or 10-year Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

To apply for an Interest Based Repayment Plan, go to

The amount forgiven at the end of an IBR program is treated as taxable income while the amount forgiven under the PSLF program is not considered taxable income. A borrower using the IBR program and not in public service must prepare for the tax bill of the forgiven amount in the final year.

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NEA's Degrees Not Debt Pledge

Every American deserves a fair shot at higher education. But student debt has become a barrier to accessing the American Dream. Raise your voice for college affordability by signing the Degrees Not Debt pledge!

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