Is My Job Eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

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By Mark Kantrowitz

June 22, 2020

During our webinar about Student Loans 101 (Forgiveness), a participant asked a question about how to tell if an employer is eligible for public service loan forgiveness. Although there isn’t a complete list of eligible public service jobs, there are lists of types of eligible jobs and the option to file an Employment Certification Form to determine eligibility.

Can you please speak some about how to know if a possible employer will be eligible for public service loan forgiveness? Is there anywhere to see a list of areas that may be eligible, or is it on an employer basis? 

There is no comprehensive list of employers who qualify for public service loan forgiveness.

Eligible public service jobs are defined in the Higher Education Act of 1965 [20 USC 1087e(m)(3)(B)] and the regulations at 34 CFR 685.219 as including

  • Employment with a federal, state, local or tribal government, including government agencies and authorities, but not government contractors
  • Public transportation, water, bridge and housing authorities
  • Employment with a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, including tax-exempt charitable organizations, tax-exempt educational institutions, private foundations and tax-exempt hospitals
  • Military service (e.g., active duty service, including full-time National Guard duty, but not including active duty service for training purposes or at a service school)
  • Emergency management, public safety and law enforcement (e.g., police, fire and EMT)
  • Public health (including nurses, nurse practitioners, nurses in a clinical setting and full-time professionals engaged in health care practitioner occupations and health care support occupations
  • Public education, including public elementary and secondary schools, community colleges and public colleges and universities
  • Social work in a public child or family service agency
  • Public interest law services (including prosecution or public defense or legal advocacy on behalf of low-income communities at a nonprofit organization)
  • Early childhood education (including licensed or regulated childcare, Head Start, and State funded prekindergarten)
  • Public service for individuals with disabilities
  • Public service for the elderly
  • Public library sciences
  • School-based library sciences and other school-based services
  • AmeriCorps
  • Peace Corps 
  • Teaching as a full-time faculty member at a Tribal College or University 
  • Other faculty teaching in high-needs subject areas or areas of shortage (including nurse faculty, foreign language faculty, and part-time faculty at community colleges), as determined by the U.S. Department of Education

Qualifying public service jobs do not include

  • Employment by an organization that is engaged in religious activities is not eligible, unless the qualifying activities are unrelated to religious instruction, worship services or any form of proselytizing
  • Employment by a for-profit organization 
  • Employment by a labor union or partisan political organization
  • Employment by a for-profit elementary or secondary school, college or university
  • Volunteer service, other than an AmeriCorps or Peace Corps position
  • Non-profit organizations that do not operate in the U.S.
  • Employment by a foreign government or intergovernmental organization (e.g., UN, OECD, OAS, NATO)
  • Time served as a member of Congress 

Borrower san determine whether their job qualifies by filing an Employment Certification Form (ECF). 

The U.S. Department of Education’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Help Tool can help borrowers determine if an employer is considered a qualifying employer.

A list of federal government agencies and departments is published on the web site.

A good place to start:

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