Hundreds of PROTEC17 members could be eligible for the student loan forgiveness program that was recently revamped and reintroduced by the Federal government. According to The Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC), Washington State has nearly 180,000 residents who are eligible for the program, but only about 3,500 who have had debt cancelled under the program.
While the program isn’t new – it’s been around since 2007 – it has been notoriously underutilized, difficult to navigate, and prohibitively complicated – until the Biden administration recently made major changes to the program to help more borrowers qualify.
The benefit is available to federal student loan borrowers who work full-time (at least 30 hours a week) for a qualified public service or non-profit employer; this includes Federal, State, local, tribal, and military personnel.
To be eligible, you also need to have: Direct Loans (or consolidate other federal student loans into a Direct Loan), made 120 qualifying payments, and an income-driven repayment plan. Lastly, you need to complete an Employer Certification Form annually — or whenever you change employers — and submit it to the U.S. Department of Education.
Nationwide, more than nine million public service workers are eligible for debt cancellation through the program, yet only 150,000 borrowers have received forgiveness, and less than 15 percent have filed the paperwork to enter the program. Less than two percent of eligible borrowers have had debt cancelled through the program nationwide.
Right now, there is also a one-time loan forgiveness waiver to count prior student loan payments that previously didn’t count toward student loan forgiveness. If you think you might qualify, or have questions about the program, visit studentaid.gov/manage-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service.