The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) was designed to allow workers with careers in public service – including many library workers – to have their federal student loans forgiven after 10 years of payments. In practice, PSLF has not always lived up to its charge. As ALA noted in a 2021 coalition letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardonas calling for an overhaul of PSLF, “98% of those who applied have been rejected.”
Long-term advocacy from ALA and partners in the education and nonprofit worlds has finally led to major changes to the program. Until October 31, many borrowers previously ineligible for the program can save thousands of dollars in federal student loan repayments.
In October 2021, the Department of Education announced a slate of changes to PSLF, including the creation of a temporary waiver. This allows borrowers to retroactively count past payments toward their 10 years of qualifying payments, regardless of whether those payments were made while working at a qualified employer. This is a monumental opportunity for library workers with federal student loans. If you made payments on your loan that didn’t previously qualify for PSLF, this temporary waiver will likely render them eligible. The waiver is open to borrowers no matter how many payments you’ve made.
ALA is strongly encouraging all library workers with federal student loans to explore their options and eligibility for PSLF and the waiver. The window for this waiver closes on Oct. 31, 2022, and we do not want library workers to miss out on this opportunity. We’re extremely proud of the advocacy that led us to these changes, including our call to ensure the changes to the program were retroactive to past payments, and we want to ensure ALA members and library workers benefit from thousands of dollars in possible savings.