Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Application Walkthrough


The Department of Education recently made available the official application form for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).  If you have been keeping track, we are quickly approaching the 10-year period since the launch of PSLF.  Theoretically the first group of eligible borrowers should be able to benefit from PSLF starting October 1, 2017.  Let's take a look at this very important document, shall we?

For those of us who have been submitting annual employment certification forms (ECF), a lot of the application will look rather familiar.  A nice chunk of this walkthrough will also apply to the ECF.  Let's break it down section by section.

Section 1: Borrower Information - fill in your contact information.

Section 2: Borrower request, understanding, certification, and authorization - A whole lot of fine print here, but you're basically saying:

  1. You're applying for loan forgiveness.
  2. Whether you want forbearance while your application is pending.
  3. You understand there are certain criteria you have to satisfy.
  4. In the chance you don't actually qualify for PSLF, you agree to pay off all your debts.

Section 3: Employer Information - I would fill out as much of this as you can before handing it over to your HR representative.  You definitely don't want your employer qualifications to delay your application.  Keep in mind your employer doesn't have to be a 501(c)(3) organization, it just have to be a non-profit and provide "Public health" services, which is majority of the hospitals in America.

Section 4: Employer Certification - This is where you need your friendly HR representative to sign and certify that everything you claim is true.

Section 5: Instructions - Basically if you had switched jobs during your 10 years in PSLF, you'll have to submit sections 1-4 for each employer.  Hopefully you've been staying on top of this by submitting your Employment Certification Form (ECF) every year and every time you switched employers.

Section 6: Definitions - we will mostly fall under "Public health" in the second column as full-time professionals engaged in health care practitioner occupations.

Section 7: Where to send the completed form - I recommend uploading the file to FedLoan Servicing directly.  It saves a lot of time and also gives you confirmation that your document has been received.

Section 8: Important info about PSLF - if you don't know anything about or have forgotten what you know about PSLF, this is a good place to catch up on all of the details.

Section 9: Important notices - more fine print. Despite of it being labeled "important," I would just ignore this.

That's it - 6 short pages between you and the evaporation of your hundreds of thousands of student loans.  I have quite a few years to go before I can qualify but if any of you are applying, please drop me a note in the comments to let me know how it went.

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Future Proof, MD

Dr. Bo Liu is an aspiring radiologist-in-training and the founder and editor of the White Coat Money Blog.  He has an interest in interventional radiology and helping his medical colleagues get ahead in this mad world of medicine and money.  When he's not crushing the list at the PACS station or typing up your next favorite blog post, you can usually find him at the local badminton club, movie theater or the most recently opened restaurant.