12 Public Service Jobs That Qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness

Female teacher talking to a student in classroom.
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With last week’s news regarding updated measures for federal student loan relief, the topic has been front of mind for many of the 43 million Americans who carry this type of debt. President Biden’s plan allows $10,000 in debt cancellation for anyone with a federal student loan who makes under $125,000 a year. Borrowers who received a Pell Grant can have up to $20,000 in debt cancelled. However, there have been other national student loan forgiveness programs in place for a while.

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One of them is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that allows remaining balances of federal student loan debt to be waived after the individual has made 120 consecutive payments — 10 years’ worth — since October 2007, when the program started. 

There are some qualifications to be eligible, as noted by the Federal Student Aid office of the U.S. Department of Education. The requirements include working full-time for an eligible employer; having a Direct loan (it must be a federal student loan); and being enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan. You must also make the full payment as noted on the bill and do so no later than 15 days after the due date.

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The Education Department recommends filling out a Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) & Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF) Certification & Application, also called a PSLF form, each year or whenever you change employers. This helps to ensure that your payments will be credited. You can receive credits even if you were on an allowable forbearance during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

So, who qualifies? It’s not so much about the job you do or even the title you hold but the employer you work for. Your employer must be a government organization, which includes the military and tribal organizations, or a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit. AmeriCorps and Peace Corps also qualify.

Here are categories of work that can take part in the PSLF:

  • Military
  • Tax-exempt nonprofit organization employees
  • Public school employees
  • Public library employees
  • First responders
  • Public health workers
  • Social workers
  • Post office employees
  • Law enforcement agents
  • Religious workers
  • Government roles (but not members of Congress)
  • Full-time volunteers for the AmeriCorps or Peace Corps 

Indeed has its own search results for “Public Service Loan Forgiveness” jobs that point to a variety of positions, including sanitation workers, media professionals, property managers, patient care representatives, clinic coordinators and administrative workers.

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However, it should be stated that most people who have applied for PSLF have been denied, as there are very strict qualifications, as noted by Saving For College, citing data from the U.S. Department of Education. 

As of April 2021, 98% of applicants had been denied. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has said that there is “extraordinary confusion” about the process. Biden has vowed to overhaul the PSLF program as part of latest student loan relief agenda.

As the statement issued by the White House last week declared, Biden vowed to fix the “broken Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program” to provide appropriate credits to eligible workers. The White House statement also noted that temporary changes enacted thus far have resulted in over 175,000 workers receiving more than $10 billion in loan forgiveness.

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Find more information about the loan forgiveness program and links to forms and applications on the StudentAid.gov Public Service Loan Forgiveness page, located here.

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About the Author

Selena Fragassi joined GOBankingRates.com in 2022, adding to her 15 years in journalism with bylines in Spin, Paste, Nylon, Popmatters, The A.V. Club, Loudwire, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Magazine and others. She currently resides in Chicago with her rescue pets and is working on a debut historical fiction novel about WWII. She holds a degree in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago.
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