- 453,000 student-loan borrowers have gotten debt relief through the PSLF waiver, the Education Department said.
- It is still continuing to process forms from borrowers who applied before the October 31 deadline.
- Other reforms to the program have been pushed off due to limited funding and resources.
It looks like President Joe Biden’s changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program are working.
Biden’s Education Department announced in October 2021 temporary reforms for PSLF, a program that allows government and nonprofit workers to receive loan forgiveness after ten years of qualifying payments. Leading up to Biden’s presidency, borrowers were facing a host of issues receiving relief through the program and tracking payments accurately, leading the department to implement a limited-time waiver that allowed previously ineligible payments to count toward PSLF progress.
That waiver expired on October 31, 2022, and the Education Department has posted an update on Federal Student Aid’s website noting that about 453,000 borrowers have qualified for loan forgiveness under the waiver through early February 2023.
“Although the limited PSLF waiver period has ended, some borrowers who submitted their applications prior to the end date may continue to have their applications processed from the waiver period,” the department wrote. “Get additional information about these borrowers here.”
While many borrowers are still waiting for their applications to be processed, the Education Department also announced permanent reforms to PSLF in October following the waiver’s expiration. They included simplifying the eligibility criteria for PSLF, along with a one-time account adjustment to give borrowers who missed the waiver deadline one more chance to have their payment counts up to date.
Still, these reforms will likely take some time to implement. Insider reported last week that the timeline for borrowers to see relief through the account adjustment was pushed back from July 2023 to 2024. That’s likely due to the lack of increased funding for Federal Student Aid in the budget Congress passed last year, causing delays with implementing a range of reforms within student-loan forgiveness and repayment programs.
Along with changes to PSLF, the Education Department is working to implement a new income-driven repayment plan — all while millions of borrowers are waiting to see if the Supreme Court will uphold Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt, a decision expected by June.
It’s unclear how effectively the range of reforms will be implemented, and many student-loan borrowers have already experienced challenges with the limited resources the department currently has through hours-long wait times with student-loan companies. Department officials have previously acknowledged that the lack of funding will be a challenge but has remained confident that its programs will work in the best interests of borrowers.
“Higher education should lift you up, not weigh you down,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wrote on Twitter in January. “Thanks to changes we’ve made to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, everyday Americans can reach dreams they put off for far too long. That’s something to celebrate.”