Public Service Loan Forgiveness requires ten years of monthly payments to qualify for loan forgiveness. Do I get any benefit if I fall short?
No. If you leave public service even one monthly payment short of the required 120 payments, you will not be eligible for loan forgiveness and will be required to repay in full.
The path toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) presents some risks for borrowers. Because this program is an “all-or-nothing” benefit, it is important for you to understand that you must make 120 on-time, qualifying monthly payments in order to obtain loan forgiveness.
It is also important to know that these payments do not have to be consecutive. If you make a late payment or leave public service for a brief period, you will still be able to pick up where you left off and continue down the path to loan forgiveness. If you leave a public service job, you can still receive credit for payments made during the time you were in a public service job. Later in your career, if you return to a public service job, you can begin receiving credit towards the 120 required payments while working for a qualified employer.
However, to obtain the biggest benefit under PSLF, you should strive to make your 120 on-time, monthly payments in 120 months.
While we recommend submitting an Employment Certification Form on an annual basis to receive credit, you should, at a minimum, submit the form every time you leave a qualifying employer. It will be easier to get the form filled out by your employer at that time compared to when you apply for loan forgiveness.