Many student loan borrowers have waited 10 years and have made life decisions based on this popular forgiveness program. Now, it’s official: The first applicants can apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).

That’s right. The Department of Education now has the application form on the Federal Student Aid website, along with an updated Employment Certification Form. After the American Bar Association lawsuit that questioned the employment eligibility guidelines, the ECF now specifies that the employer’s primary purpose be on their list of public services.

Until now, applicants had to rely on feedback from their loan servicer after submitting the optional Employment Certification Forms (ECFs) to know if they were on track. A few months ago, the Department of Education officially stated that applicants may not be able to trust that feedback. The only feedback about eligibility that matters is from the Department of Education — and PSLF applicants will only get it after 10 years of payments when they send in the final application for forgiveness.

For many PSLF applicants, that time is now. We’ll soon see how successful this confusing program is when the first wave of applicants starts hearing back.

For those of you who are ready to submit that final application, and also for those of you who are still working on those payments, here’s a reminder of the qualifications for forgiveness under Public Service Loan Forgiveness:

  • Qualified employment. Your employer must be a governmental agency, a tax-exempt non-profit 503(c)(3) agency, or a private non-profit organization that is not tax-exempt whose primary purpose fits in the DOE’s requirements.
  • Full-time employment. The DOE defines “full time” as at least 30 hours/week.
  • Qualified loans. You must have federal Direct Loans or Consolidated Direct Loans that are not in default. Direct PLUS Loans are also eligible.
  • Qualifying payments. You must make 120 payments on the Standard or an income-driven repayment plan. Your payment must be for the entire amount due (if you overpay, your amount due will be less than a full payment so it won’t count).

If you fit the DOE requirements, go ahead and send in the final application. However, don’t get too excited and quit your public service job quite yet; you must be working for your qualified employer until you receive the loan forgiveness. You can find the form here.

We look forward to hearing success stories from PSLF applicants, and we hope to start seeing those stories soon. If you have one, please comment below.