The 2018 White House budget called for elimination of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program (see page 129). On May 23, 2017 the Education Department announced that hundreds of thousands of individuals on track for loan forgiveness under PSLF would not be affected by the current administration’s proposal to get rid of the benefit. Education officials have since clarified that the president’s proposal would only affect people taking out loans on or after July 1, 2018.
As an employee of the USPTO, here’s what you need to know:
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is a federal program that forgives federal student loans for borrowers who are employed full-time (more than 30 hours per week) in an eligible federal, state or local public service job or 501(c)(3) non-profit job who make 120 eligible on-time payments. Section 401 of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (H.R. 2669) of 2007 sets forth the terms of PSLF including eligible federal loans, qualifying loan repayment plans and more. Loan amounts forgiven under PSLF are not considered taxable income by the IRS.
It is important to note that although full-time employment by the USPTO is a qualifying employment according to the FSLP, employees will still need to review their particular types of loans and repayment plans to determine whether or not they can take advantage of the loan repayment program.
For more detailed information on the program and its requirements, employees are directed to the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Office’s website. This website includes a variety of tools, including a PSLF Fact Sheet which can assist employees in navigating the program. The website also includes an electronic copy of the Employment Certification Form which should be completed by both the employee and their employer annually.
MyFedLoan is another online resource for PSLF information, one hosted by the U.S. Department of Education, which allows employees to create an online account through which they can track their eligibility and repayment status.
In an effort to assist employees in their navigation of this program, POPA has also generated a flowchart designed to assist employees (see below). Please note – this chart should NOT be relied upon solely without referencing the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Office’s website.
While PSLF is certainly an amazing program for those who quality, it is essential that employees seeking to take advantage review its terms thoroughly to ensure that they meet its many requirements. Those already enrolled should continue to certify their enrollment annually while those not yet certified should take the steps necessary to review the terms of the program as soon as possible to ensure that they do not miss out.