Public Service Loan Forgiveness Given to Less Than 1% of Applicants, New Data Shows

One of the most important things for student loan borrowers to know about Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is that almost no one receives it… at least so far.

As of late December, just 262 people had managed to get their student loans wiped away through PSLF out of a total of 38,460 applicants, according to reports citing Education Department data sent to Congress last week. This equates to an acceptance rate of less than 1%.

But it’s not quite so bad as it seems. The Education Department said a large proportion of those applicants — more than 28,000 — were rejected outright for not previously submitting a formal application for the loan forgiveness program, according to The Washington Post.

Of the remaining, 9,820 applications, 1,184 — or 12% — were still under consideration. That, at least, is higher than the acceptance rate than for Harvard University (4.5% for the current year).

And there could still be hope for some of those rejected, as 40% of those 9,820 candidates who cleared the first hurdle had still yet to complete the 120 eligible payments needed to qualify, the Post report said.

Likewise, a failed application might not be the end in all cases: A trickle of recent reports show some PSLF candidates are challenging their rejections in court.

That said, however, the numbers show why PSLF has a reputation of being very difficult to get — and this is in spite of extra funds being added to the program last year.

As Politico notes, Congress had provided $700 million for the program during the past two fiscal years, but only $10.6 million worth of loans has been forgiven.

The new data was provided in response to a request from Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who accused the administration of making PSLF too difficult to qualify for.

If you have student loans, and you work at a non-profit, government agency or some other form of public service, PSLF is at least worth a look. But given all the hoops you need to jump through, make sure to carefully review the many requirements so that your road to forgiveness doesn’t end in disappointment.

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