This post was edited on 11/24/17.
This is part of an ongoing series I plan to do documenting my experience with PSLF (Public Service Loan Forgiveness). I’m doing this mostly because I need to cathart, but also because I want to help people avoid my PSLF hell.
I graduated from grad school (read: done with school for a while) in 2014 and knew I would start paying loans right after that grace period. I was prepared *af* for it, too. I submitted my IDR and got my payments lowered under the IBR [correction: It was the PAYE] plan AHEAD of my first payment [to MyGreatLakes]. I thought that’s how you’re supposed to do it (now I learn that some go into forbearance waiting to get that crap worked out because they didn’t plan properly). But no, I was responsible. I never missed a payment. I knew what I was doing. After graduating, I even went on tangents about how I wished I had borrowed more when in school–preached the Good Word of “Student Aid.”
Then, one day, I get this email from the U.S. Department of Education (click on image for full size):
Loan forgiveness? No way! Sounds awesome, right? I read up on it, realized that you have to be full-time to apply for it, and work for a qualifying employer. I waited and waited and waited. As soon as I got full-time at my library, I downloaded that certification form so fast I didn’t read the fine print:
“…your loans will be transferred from your current loan servicer to FedLoan Servicing.”
That is something I didn’t even notice–the thing I want to warn you about. Heck, maybe I did read it and it just didn’t click. I can’t remember. It didn’t seem like it would be a big deal. The email seemed so nice and inviting!
I thought I knew what I was doing. This email made it seem so simple. After I got my full-time job I even put it off…waiting 9 months to go ahead and submit the form. Really, I thought that certification was just to prove where I worked–that my employment status qualified me. But no. That’s not all it does. It looks at every month you’ve worked–every payment you’ve made. From the time you say you started there to the time you sign the form. It’s an ongoing process that they encourage you to do annually. The email doesn’t explain that it’s not a one time thing. And you can always send it in later [after making qualifying payments outside of the program].
My point is: Before you send off the form, WAIT. Unless you think you’re about to lose or change your current full-time job, you might want to hold off. I wish I had. Just because you don’t send off that form doesn’t mean your payments won’t qualify. Literally the only reason I can see that you would want to send it is is if you think you’re about to lose your job and just want proof that you HAVE made qualifying payments. Looking back, I wish I had known that. I don’t entirely have the need to do it so quickly.
You can literally send off a new form every month if you wanted to to get your payment certified (not advised though, as it’s likely to cause confusion and be annoying to your boss, who has to sign off on it every time). The certification is only good for proof. If you can get that later on down the road, I would hold off. I wish I had.
I REALLY wish I had. At least a few more months. This series will explain why and it involves my annual re-certification for my IDR and the fact that MyFedLoans.org doesn’t have its act together.
I’ve only been full-time for a year now, so I’ve only made 12 qualifying payments. But MyFedLoans only knows about… 3? of them. That’s all I can prove until I send in another re-certification form because of when I sent in the original form to get me into the program. But I’ll keep you posted on how the process.
Until then, here are some links I wish I had read before sending in that stupid PSLF form:
This is not legal advice. I clearly don’t know what I’m doing.
Update: Read Part II here.