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Navigate Your Student Debt

NEA’s student debt experts have created tools designed to help educators through the complicated student debt system.

For too long, a handful of policymakers have weakened programs that were designed to help all Americans achieve a higher education, and enabled profiteers, including federal student loan servicers, to make a profit off the backs of students and educators. NEA’s student debt experts are hard at work to ensure everyone can navigate this complicated system. Explore our resources below.

NEA Expert Briefings

Connect with NEA student debt experts during our monthly webinars.

Join us every third Thursday to debrief the latest student debt news, get your questions answered by experts, and learn actions you can take to create progress.

Stay tuned! Calendar in progress.

What You Need to Know About the PSLF Waiver

The changes to PSLF will exist only until October 31, 2022. Make sure you are getting the student debt relief you deserve. Check out our resources below.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program was created in 2007 to forgive the federal student debt of public employees, including teachers, faculty, and education support professionals, who provide 10 years of service and make 120 monthly payments on their student loans.

However, when the first borrowers became eligible for forgiveness, the Trump administration prioritized profits for big banks over keeping the promise of PSLF. They denied over 90 percent of applications and kept public service workers paying interest on debts that should have been canceled.

The Biden administration’s overhaul fixes some of the technicalities and will mean debt forgiveness right away for tens of thousands of public service workers and eventual forgiveness for many more. Eventually, hundreds of thousands of educators could become eligible for loan forgiveness over the next year.

The new changes might help you if:

  • You have federal student loans AND you work full-time for a school district, or institution of higher education 

AND

  • You have Direct Loans OR You consolidate into the Direct Loan Program by Oct. 31, 2022

What public service workers need to do before October 31, 2022:

  1. Go to studentaid.gov/pslf, login with your Federal Student Aid ID (or create one if you do not have one) and make sure your contact information is up to date so that the U.S. Department of Education can communicate directly with you.
  2. If you have a Direct Loan, have made 120 payments, and have applied for PSLF, you should receive automatic forgiveness soon.
  3. If you have a Direct Loan, have made 120 payments, and have NOT applied for PSLF, you need to apply for PSLF right away.
  4. If you have a FFEL or Perkins loan, you need to consolidate into a Direct Loan, then apply for PSLF.

You can apply for PSLF forgiveness at studentaid.gov/pslf.

Need help? NEA members can get free support through the NEA Student Debt Navigator. Experts will offer help with applying for PSLF and can answer any questions about your student debt.

Access the NEA Student Debt Navigator

Not an NEA member? Join us to access our free student debt support tools and to add your voice to the movement to cancel student debt.

Join NEA Today

Meet the NEA Student Debt Navigator

NEA has partnered with a company called Savi to offer an online student debt navigator tool, free for one year for NEA members. Sign up to receive personalized advice from student debt experts and gain access to Savi’s e-filing function, which helps eliminate the common mistakes that bar many applicants from receiving forgiveness.

Watch the video below to hear from members who have had student debt cancelled through the NEA Student Debt Navigator. Then log in and try it today!

NEA Student Debt Navigator

Frequently Asked Questions

Find the answer to some of the most common questions about student debt below.


Public Service Loan Forgiveness


Who can qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

To qualify for PSLF, you must be employed full-time (30 hours or more per week) by a public service employer, which includes all public school districts and higher education institutions.

Public service workers include:

  • Teachers
  • Education Support Professionals
  • Specialized Instructional Support Personnel
  • Higher Education Faculty, Including Adjunct/Contingent 

**Private, for-profit employers do not qualify for PSLF** 

What is an Employment Certification Form (ECF)?

To apply for PSLF, the U.S. Department of Education requires public service workers to file an Employment Certification Form (ECF) to show they work for a qualified employer. You can use the Department’s PSLF Help Tool to fill out your annual ECFs or seek assistance from NEA Member Benefits through our Student Debt Navigator - neamb.com/Savi.

Note that Section 4 of the Employment Certification Form must be filled out by an official who can access your employment/service records––usually someone in your human resources department.  Some school districts even have an HR person designated to handle ECFs.

How do I know if I’m eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

Until October 31, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education is allowing borrowers to receive credit toward loan forgiveness for any month’s payments made since October 1, 2007, as long as borrowers made those payments while:

  • Working full-time for a qualifying public service employer, AND
  • Being in repayment on any type of federal student loan.

You do not have to be currently employed or working full-time to receive loan forgiveness. If you have accrued 120 months of public service employment while your loans were in repayment since October 1, 2007, you can qualify to have your debt cancelled, regardless of which repayment plan you were in, and regardless of whether you actually made a payment for a given month, as long as your loan was not in a deferment, forbearance, or default. Each month of the COVID-19 payment suspension DOES count toward PSLF.

The U.S. Department of Education said they will conduct data matches between federal agencies to verify employment and automate payment credit.  Who does that apply to and does it include DoDEA educators?

DoDEA educators, as federal employees, are included in the data match and will receive automatic payment credit through the PSLF waiver. However, DoDEA educators who have FFEL or Perkins loans and less than 10 years of service will still need to consolidate their loans to maintain their eligibility and continue to be on track to get PSLF. The data matching through this temporary waiver only provides retroactive credit to previous payments, not future payments moving forward.

All other educators seeking PSLF will need to file an Employment Certification Form (ECF) to verify employment, if they have not already done so.

How long is the temporary waiver effective?

This new policy is in effect through October 31, 2022.

After this date, borrowers will receive credit toward debt cancellation under PSLF if they meet the traditional eligibility requirements: on-time payments based on an income-driven repayment plan, made on a Federal Direct Loan only, and while working for a qualifying public service employer. However, any credit borrowers received as a result of the waiver will remain on their account.

For example: If a borrower had 30 credits before the waiver and receives 80 additional credits through the waiver this brings their total to 110 credits.  They will need 10 more credits to meet the 120 payments required for forgiveness.  After October 31, 2022, they will have to accrue those future credits under the regular PSLF program requirements.

What happens if the waiver pushes my payment count above the 120 payment requirement?

If the temporary waiver puts your payment count over 120, your loans will be forgiven, and you will be credited back for any monthly payments you made above the 120 that are required. The actual forgiveness may take weeks or months.

I have not made student loan payments during the CARES Act payment pause. How does that affect my PSLF payment count?

As part of the CARES Act, the federal government has paused payments for most federal student loan borrowers since March 2020. These months will count toward PSLF forgiveness for Federal Direct Loans. For other loans, pursuant to the waiver, those months will count if the loans were in a repayment status, not deferment, forbearance, or default.

I already received Teacher Loan Forgiveness. Can I still qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

Teacher Loan Forgiveness is a separate federal program from PSLF. If you teach full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years at a low-income school or high-needs subject area, the program provides forgiveness up to $17,500 for Federal Direct Loans.

However, your five years of employment under Teacher Loan Forgiveness will not be credited to PSLF, as you cannot simultaneously qualify for the program. The temporary waiver does not change this rule. For example: If you have taught 12 years in public schools and received Teacher Loan Forgiveness after your first 5 years of employment, you will only have 7 years of payment credit towards PSLF.

Teachers should seek help by going to neamb.com/Savi to determine which forgiveness program is right for them.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness does not apply to education support professionals, specialized instructional support personnel, or higher education faculty.

I have student loans from a private bank, can those get forgiven through Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

No, Public Service Loan Forgiveness only provides forgiveness for federal student loans under the Federal Direct Loan program.

I heard that FedLoan/PHEAA, which services Public Service Loan Forgiveness, has announced it will end its contract with the federal government. How will this affect the temporary waiver?

FedLoan’s contract termination did not include a transfer agreement with another student loan servicing company. The U.S. Department of Education is currently working on bridge contracts for the future servicing of the program, but there is no timetable for when that will occur.  For now, FedLoan remains the sole servicer for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, including implementing the temporary waiver.

Do Plus Loans qualify for forgiveness under Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

Yes, like other Federal Direct Loans, Direct Plus Loans are eligible for forgiveness under Public Service Loan Forgiveness.  There are two types of Plus Loans:

  1. Those made directly to graduate or professional students, and;
  2. Those made to parents of dependent undergraduate students.

If you took out a Parent Plus Loan on behalf of a dependent student, those loans cannot be repaid under an income-driven plan and must be consolidated for payments to count towards the 120 for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. These Plus Loans should be consolidated when you apply for the temporary waiver.

How can I find out what type of student loan I have? How do I know whether I need to consolidate?

You can find out which type of student loan you have by accessing your information on the Department of Education website. 

  • Step 1: Log into studentaid.gov
  • Step 2: Under your student aid dashboard, navigate to “View Details”
  • Step 3: On the top right, select “Download My Aid Data”
  • Step 4: Look at your aid data to determine if it is FFEL or Direct based on the following guide:

The NEA Student Debt Navigator, Powered by Savi


What is the NEA Student Debt Navigator? How do I access it?

NEA has partnered with Savi, a student loan startup, to offer an online student debt navigator tool, free for one year for NEA members. Sign up to receive personalized advice from student debt experts and gain access to Savi’s e-filing function, which helps eliminate the common mistakes that bar many applicants from receiving forgiveness.

Access the Navigator

Who can use the Navigator?

The Navigator is open to all NEA members, and is free for the first year of service. If you are not a member of NEA, you can access this program by joining here.

What is Savi and can I trust them?

Savi is a student debt startup and has officially partnered with NEA Member Benefits. You can learn more about Savi and their philosophy here.

Does the Navigator work?

Yes! Many NEA members have already received their forgiveness thanks to the help of the NEA Student Debt Navigator. You can hear from some of them in this video:


Other Forms of Student Debt Support


When does the interest freeze end? What does it mean for me?

On Aug. 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced a final extension of the student loan payment pause until Jan. 31, 2022.

The pause includes the following relief measures for eligible loans:

  • A suspension of loan payments
  • A 0% interest rate
  • Stopped collections on defaulted loans

The months during the payment freeze, from March 2020 to January 2022, will count toward PSLF forgiveness for Federal Direct Loans. For other loans, pursuant to the waiver, those months will count if the loans were in a repayment status, not deferment, forbearance, or default.

This program will end on January 31, 2022.

What is an income-drive repayment plan?

Income-driven repayment plans can help keep payments affordable (and be as little as $0 per month). Educators must be in one of these repayment plans to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

  • Monthly payments are determined by discretionary income, rather than loan balance. With an income-driven repayment plan, you will pay around 10-15 percent of your discretionary income. You can estimate your monthly payments using the Federal Student Aid Loan Simulator.
  • Being enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan is the only way to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which could forgive your student loans in as little as 10 years. Even if you don't qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, when you participate in an income-driven repayment plan your balance is forgiven after 20 or 25 years.
  • The less you make, the less you pay. Monthly payments can go down when you are facing financial hardship. Single applicants who make less than $19K or a family of four making less than $39K qualify for $0 monthly payments.

Apply for an income-driven repayment plan here.

What is the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program?

For teachers only, this program forgives up to $5,000 after five years of teaching, or up to $17,500 if you teach math or science at the secondary level or special education at any level.

  1. Have either Direct or Stafford loans.
  2. Be a “highly qualified,” or fully state-certified, teacher.
  3. Teach at a school or educational service agency that serves low-income students for five years after your loans were taken out.
National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.