ROSELAND, N.J. – The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJCPA) reminds those who are carrying student loan debt that the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) has recently updated its Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Help Tool for borrowers who work full time either in government or at a not-for-profit organization that is tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3). The PSLF Program forgives the remaining balance on student loans issued under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program after they have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a repayment plan while working full time.
The PSLF Tool, which was launched in 2018, was updated to be more user friendly and assist students in better understanding the program, help them navigate the Department of Education’s website and complete the forms required. It also introduced new features, such as an employer database, which helps students determine if their employer is eligible to meet the qualifying employment criterium for PSLF. Borrowers now can enter their employer’s Employer Identification Number (EIN).
Under the PSLF program, an employee is considered to be full time if they meet their employer’s definition of full time or if they work at least 30 hours per week. A payment is considered qualified if it is made after Oct. 1, 2007, the year in which the PSLF program was created; is paid under a qualified repayment plan; is at least the amount of the minimum payment due; is paid no more than 15 days after the payment due date; and is paid while the employee is employed full time by a qualified employer.
The program has drawn some unfavorable attention, as many students who expected to qualify for loan forgiveness came to the realization that, for one reason or another, they did not in fact qualify for the program. The most common reasons for ineligibility include students not meeting the qualifying payments requirement, applications were missing information and/or the loans being repaid by students were not eligible loans.
“This unfortunate realization came for many borrowers after they made 10 years of repayments towards their student loans. Accordingly, the resources included in the FSA’s new guidance seeks to assist borrowers in understanding their eligibility and related requirements to participate in the program,” said Melissa Dardani, CPA, manager of global forensic, compliance and integrity services at Baker Tilly, and a member of the NJCPA Student Loan Task Force. “This should help borrowers plan appropriately by assisting them in informed decision-making surrounding their unique student loan debt situations.”
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The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants, with more than 14,000 members, represents the interests of the accounting profession and advances the financial well-being of the people of New Jersey. The NJCPA plays a leadership role in supporting the profession by providing members with educational resources, access to shared knowledge and a continuing effort to create and expand professional opportunities. Visit njcpa.org.