How Occupational Therapists And Physical Therapists Can Benefit From The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver

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How Occupational Therapists And Physical Therapists Can Benefit From The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver

Are you an occupational therapist or physical therapist either planning on or currently pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) or Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF)? 

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If so, it is very important that you know and understand the details of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver opportunity the United States Department of Education declared on October 6, 2021.

This waiver provides several opportunities that can benefit many physical therapists and occupational therapists hoping to obtain student loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness or Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) programs. 

Unfortunately, though, the benefits of this waiver are still not well publicized or understood. If the occupational therapists and physical therapists that would benefit from this waiver do not take the necessary actions before October 31, 2022 then they can miss out opportunities that can shorten the length of time required to obtain student loan forgiveness.

The aim of this article is help physical therapists and occupational therapists become more aware of the waiver’s benefits so that occupational therapists and physical therapists can benefit from them as much as possible.

Let’s get started.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver’s Benefits:

Up until the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver opportunity, certain requirements had to be met for a student loan payment to count towards Public Service Loan Forgiveness. 

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver now provides the following benefits:

1. Type Of Student Loan

Up until the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver opportunity, previously made student loan payments were only counted if they were made towards Direct Loans. Direct Loans derive from the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program and include the following types of loans: 

  • Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct PLUS Loans
  • Direct Consolidation Loans

While payments previously made towards Direct student loans still count, The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver opportunity now also counts student loan payments that you may have previously made towards FFEL or Perkins Loans towards student loan forgiveness. 

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Federal Family Education Loans derive from the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program. This program stopped issuing new loans on July 1, 2010. Loans in the Federal Family Education Loan Program include the following types of loans:

  • Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans
  • Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans
  • FFEL PLUS Loans
  • Consolidated Loans

Perkins Loans derive from the Federal Perkins Loan Program and are provided with a low interest rate to undergraduate and graduate students demonstrating financial need. This program stopped issuing new loans on September 30, 2017.

2. Type Of Student Loan Plan

Up until the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver, previously made student loan payments were only counted if they were made while the student loans were on one of the following two plans: 

  1. The Standard Repayment Plan
  2. The Income-Driven Repayment Plan 

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver opportunity now counts student loan payments that you may have previously made towards loans that were on any student loan plan.

3. Late Student Loan Payments

Up until the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver, only student loan payments that were made on-time, prior to consolidation were counted.

Consolidation is a term used when you decide to combine multiple student loans at different interest rates into one student loan with one interest rate.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver opportunity now counts late student loan payments made prior to consolidation.

4. Partial Student Loan Payments 

Up until the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver, only student loan payments that were made for the entire amount due counted.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver opportunity now counts partially made student loan payments. 

5. Job Status When Submitting Public Service Loan Forgiveness Application

Up until the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver, you were required to be employed by a qualifying employer when submitting the Public Service Loan Forgiveness application and awaiting student loan forgiveness.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver opportunity now no longer disqualifies Public Service Loan Forgiveness applicants if they are not working for a qualifying employer during the application process and until the Public Service Loan Forgiveness is actually awarded.

What Does The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Still Require? 

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver opportunity still maintains several of the original Public Service Loan Forgiveness requirements. 

For brevity, these requirements will just be listed below since they were already previously covered in great detail in 14 Essential Tips For Physical Therapists And Occupational Therapists Preparing For Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Be sure to give that article a read if you haven’t already.

1. Must Consolidate Student Loans By October 31, 2022

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If your student loans are not Direct Loans, then you must consolidate them into a Direct Consolidation Loan by October 31, 2022 in order to receive the benefits of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver opportunity previously discussed.

This is very important because it puts a timetable on occupational therapists and physical therapists qualifying for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver’s benefits. If physical therapists and occupational therapists fail to consolidate their student loans that are not Direct Loans by this date, they can miss out on the benefits of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver, thereby, lengthening the number of required student loan payments needed to achieve Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Student loans that are not Direct Loans include the following:

  • Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL)
  • Federal Perkins Loans
  • Federally Insured Student Loans (FISL)
  • National Defense Student Loans (NDSL)
  • Any other type of federal student loan

If you are not sure what type of student loans you have, the Federal Student Aid website suggests that you log into your account to check. 

You can click here if you are ready to consolidate and then follow the steps outlined by the Federal Student Aid website. 

2. Qualifying Employer

You will still need to be employed by a qualifying employer while making your student loan payments in order to have them count towards Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

3. Full-Time Employment

You will still need to work full-time for a qualifying employer while making your student loan payments in order to have them count towards Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

4. Submit The Application

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The Federal Student Aid website recommends that the Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness Certification and Application be submitted 

  • Once every year
  • When applying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness
  • When changing jobs
  • For every qualifying employer you have worked for since October 2007

The first three bullets listed above are standard to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. However, submitting the application according to the last bullet listed can help ensure that your previous student loan payments that were not counted prior to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver opportunity can now be counted towards Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

To submit the Public Service Loan Forgiveness application, follow the steps provided by the Federal Student Aid website by clicking here.

5. Make 120 Qualifying Payments

While the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver opportunity allows for more student loan payments to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, 120 payments must still be made.

What Continues To Not Count Towards Public Service Loan Forgiveness Despite The Waiver?

1. Deferment, Forbearance, and Default

The time during which your student loans are in any of the above will not count towards Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

2. Student Loan Payments Made Prior to October 1, 2007

Student loan payments made prior to October 1, 2007 do not count towards Public Service Loan Forgiveness because the Public Service Loan Forgiveness option did not exit prior to this date. 

Final Thoughts. . .

I hope this information helps occupational therapists and physical therapists become more aware of the opportunities the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver opportunity offers and, in turn, helps physical therapists and occupational therapists achieve student loan forgiveness much faster than may have originally been anticipated prior to the waiver.

Are you a occupational therapist or physical therapist hoping to obtain Public Service Loan Forgiveness? Was this information helpful? Is there anything else you might add or any questions you might have? Let me know in the comments section below!

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2 thoughts on “How Occupational Therapists And Physical Therapists Can Benefit From The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver

  1. Hello David,
    I had Stafford loans and consolidated them a number of years ago. Do I still qualify for this? I also refinanced another one of my loans. I assume I do not qualify for that one???

    1. Hi Joanne,

      The PSLF Waiver allows for previous payments made prior to consolidation to count towards PSLF.

      I’m not sure if the Stafford Loans you consolidated were originally from the Direct Loan Program or FFEL Program (the FFEL Program was discontinued in 2010 so if you received your Stafford Loans after this time then they are likely Direct Loans), but it doesn’t matter as payments towards either type count with the PSLF Waiver. Even payments that were made late or payments that were not even made for the full amount due count. Just make sure that you meet the other necessary requirements to qualify for the PSLF Waiver.

      Unfortunately, the refinanced loans still don’t qualify for PSLF since these loans are no longer considered federal loans once they are refinanced.

      Hope that helps!

      David

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