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[2023] Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Calculator

Our Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Calculator can save you tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, off your student loan repayment!

What is Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)?

Public Service Loan Forgiveness, PSLF for short, is a federal student loan repayment program for borrowers working for government or qualifying not-for-profits.  After making 10 years of qualifying payments under a qualifying repayment plan, you become eligible to have the remainder of your student loan balance forgiven.

PSLF was created as part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, and the program centers around four key features:

  1. Eligibility and employment

  2. Qualifying monthly payments

  3. Employment

  4. Qualifying plans

  5. Forgiveness

Get your PSLF calculator

Our PSLF calculator will:

  • Project your monthly payments under all of the PSLF qualifying repayment plans

  • Anticipate the balance you may have forgiven

  • Help you see the cold hard numbers right in front of you

PSLF calculator

This student loan calculator can save you thousands!

Get Your Copy Now!

Eligibility for PSLF

 

Public Service Loan Forgiveness is complicated, but eligibility has three components that you should consider:

  • Employment

  • Loans

  • Qualifying repayment plans

1. Employment requirements

 

To quality for PSLF, you'll need to work for a qualifying employer.  Qualifying employers include:

 

  • Work for the/a federal, state, local, or tribal government.  Exceptions include election to Congress or work done as a government contractor.

  • Certain non-profit organizations and agencies, particularly if you work in public health, education, law, or another public service role.  Non-profits should be designated as a 501c(3), though those that are not still could qualify.

You'll also need to be employed on a full-time basis, working at least thirty hours per week.  You can avoid this "full-time" requirement, though, if you work two part-time jobs for qualifying employers.  In an instance like this, you may still qualify for PSLF as long as you're working 30 hours combined between your two jobs.

Teachers often ask whether payments they make during the summer count if they are not teaching.  They do, so long as you're still employed "full-time" by your district and you work at least eight months out of the year for at least 30 hours a week.

These qualifying services are defined by the federal government as following into one of the following categories:

  1. Emergency management services, including law enforcement and public safety.

  2. Public health roles, including nurses, nurse practitioners, and other full-time professionals in health care practitioner occupations.

  3. Military service, both active duty and National Guard

  4. Public education, including educators, school librarians, and other personnel.

The most common professions to qualify for PSLF are teachers, professors, government workers, police officers, and firefighters.

The Department of Education does have a PSLF Employer Search tool that you can use to see if your current employer qualifies.  As long as your employer qualifies and you meet the hours criteria, your actual role does not matter.

2. Loan requirements

PSLF eligibility also depends upon the type of student loans that you have.  Qualifying loan types include any non-defaulted loans received under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program.

Federal Perkins and Federal Family Education (FFEL) Loans do not qualify for PSLF on their own, but may become eligible if first consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan.

3. Qualifying repayment plans

Below is a list of all qualifying repayment plans that you can use to work towards PSLF.

The SAVE plan is new to 2023, and it was created by the Biden Administration to help lower borrower payments for those that qualify.  Some borrowers may even qualify for $0 monthly payments that count towards PSLF eligibility.

Forgiveness through PSLF

 

Forgiveness will be granted to program participants that make 120 qualifying monthly payments, over ten years, under one of these qualifying repayment plans.  Once you've met the 120-payment threshold, you'll just need to submit a PSLF application and wait for the government to process your application and forgive your loans.

This form is called the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) & Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF) Certification & Application (PSLF Form).

You should also resubmit this form periodically, like when:

 

  • You change employers.

  • You haven't recertified in about a year.

By recertifying each year, you are essentially helping the government to keep track of the number of payments that you have made.  You're also clearly signaling your intent to use the program.  Each time, the government should send you an updated letter documenting how many qualifying payments you have made.

PSLF calculator

How are PSLF payments calculated?

Your monthly payments will be calculated using the rules of whatever income-driven repayment plan you're on (IBR, ICR, PAYE, SAVE).

Luckily, all income-driven repayment plans use the same basic formula and logic to determine what your monthly payments will be:

  1. Take your household income (include spouse, if applicable) and consider your household size (number of dependents included)

  2. Compare it to 150% (225% for SAVE plan) of the poverty line for your area of residence (Alaska, Hawaii, lower 48)

  3. Take the difference - this is known as your discretionary income

  4. Take between 5%-20% of this amount, depending on which income-driven repayment plan you're pursuing, and then divide by the 12 months

The resulting number is your anticipated monthly payment.

Don't worry - our PSLF calculator takes care of all of this for you!

1. Our PSLF calculator assumptions

Our calculator is highly customizable and more detailed than any on the market.  You'll have the ability to adjust factors such as:

  • Your future family and children

  • How your future income may affect your PSLF eligibility and payments

  • Which of the income-driven repayment options you are going to use as your qualifying repayment plan

Some assumptions are made by the calculator, however.  These include:

  • Interest rates that won't change over your decade of payments

  • All loans that you hold are assumed to be unsubsidized.

  • Other minor assumptions

2. Accuracy of the calculator

 

No calculator can account for every single variable with 100% certainty.  PSLF calculations are complicated, and you may find that our calculator's projected payments are a few dollars per month different.  But it should be a really good tool to gauge whether PSLF is a viable option for you!

The results that you see from our calculator are intended to be used for educational purposes.  Always verify these numbers with your federal loan servicer directly or through applying for qualifying repayment plans (IDR) through the federal government.

Is PSLF worth it?

For the vast majority of borrowers out there, pursuing PSLF is absolutely something worth doing.  But it depends on what you do for a living and how much you make.

If you're taking a pay cut to work in the public sector for an eligible employer, you should understand what you'd make in the private sector.

Then, once you know what the difference in pay would be, you should consider what your payments would be under a PSLF eligible repayment plan versus what they would be if you joined the private sector and decided to refinance your student debt instead.

If you can find a comparable salary working in the public sector though, then PSLF almost becomes a no brainer.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) FAQ

You've got questions, and we've got answers.  Here are some other things to keep in mind about PSLF.

 

1. Are there any income requirements?

No!  One of the biggest perks of the PSLF program is that there are no income limits or a threshold in which you lose access to the program.  Let's say you are a higher income individual, but still have a high debt load. 

 

You may find is that joining a qualifying repayment plan (an IDR plan) may not reduce your monthly payments by very much.

If you find that IDR doesn't save you any money at all off your monthly payments, you're likely to lose the incentive to pursue PSLF.  This is because, by the time you reach eligibility after 10 years of payments, you'd have already paid off your federal loans anyway.

2. Is forgiveness granted under PSLF taxable?

No!  PSLF benefits are not taxable in the way that income-driven repayment benefits may be.  Our student loan calculator can help you understand the end loan balance you will expect to be forgiven.  No need to worry about a tax bomb here.

3. Are there any ways to limit my monthly payments?

Yes, those participating in PSLF through an income-driven repayment plan can limit their monthly payments by lowering their adjusted gross incomes.  And no, this doesn't mean that you have to take a pay cut either.

Instead, do things like:

  1. Contributing more to your 401(k) and IRA (on a traditional basis, not ROTH)

  2. Contribute to a Health Savings Account (HSA), if available to you

  3. Other applicable deductions 

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