Are You a Healthcare Professional Interested in Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

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As a healthcare professional, student loans may loom heavy over your potential career path. If you’re interested in public service loan forgiveness, there are a few things you should know before applying to the program.

Key Considerations: 

1. You are required to be working full time, which is generally 30+ hours a week, but there may be some variation depending on who your employer is. This is typically not a problem for healthcare professionals, especially residents.

If you are working multiple jobs, you meet the work requirement if the combined average work time is 30+ hours a week. You will see if your jobs are eligible by completing the Public Service Loan Forgivness Employment Certification Form.

Your work must be with an eligible organization when you apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and you must be paid by an eligible employer. Many hospitals are Public Service Loan Forgiveness approved, and tax-exempt non-profits or public institutions usually have the same status.

Eligible employers include government organizations such as:

  • Federal, state, local, or tribal organizations, agencies or entities.
  • Public child or family service agencies
  • Tribal colleges or universities
  • 501©(3) non-profit, tax-exempt organizations and nonprofits that provide any of these services.
  • Emergency management, military or law enforcement
  • Public health, education or any school-based service setting

Most nursing jobs in a clinical setting also qualify, as well as full-time professionals working as health care practitioners and those in medical support positions.

Individuals who work under a contract for at least eight months out of the year are eligible if they work 30+ hours a week, receiving employer credit for a full year of work. Click here to learn more about qualified payments and employment requirements.

2. The only loans that qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness are those under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program. If you have Perkins Loans or Federal Family Education Program Loans (Stafford, Federal PLUS etc.), you must consolidate these in order to become eligible.

Other loans in the nursing and healthcare sector may also be able to be consolidated. If you are not sure about the loans you have, you can use the National Student Loan Data System to help you determine what type you’re working with.

According to the official Federal Student Aid site, “Any payments you’ve made on your loans from other federal student loan programs before you consolidate them into the Direct Loan Program will not count toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness even if they were made under a qualifying repayment plan.”

  1. You will need to keep clear records of your employment and payment history to maintain your eligibility. Public Service Loan Forgiveness will only forgive your remaining balance after you have made 120 qualifying payments while employed with a qualified employer.

The 120 payments must be made on a monthly basis, and payments made before October 1st, 2007 do not qualify. They must come from under the REPAYE Plan, PAYE Plan, IBR Plan, ICR Plan, the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan, or another Direct Loan program that are “at least equal to the monthly payment amount that would have been required under the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan.”

You may take longer than those 10 years to make all 120 qualifying payments. For example, should you decide to spend time working in a non-qualifying job, then Public Service Loan Forgiveness payments would resume should you return to public service or begin working for a qualified employer.

This is a key point for medical graduates with qualified loans who make payment during residency. If you join a private practice after making 5-7 years of qualified payments throughout internship, residency and fellowship, payments made after that medical training WOULD NOT apply towards the 120 qualifying payments.

For more about the student loan forgiveness process, check out these other articles:

Student Loan Forgiveness Program: Guide for Healthcare Professionals

Public Service Loan Forgiveness for Healthcare Providers

Income Driven Repayment Plans for Student Loans

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Application Process

Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Frequently Asked Questions

The Future of Public Service Loan Forgiveness



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  1. Jim Bleecker, MS.Ed., D.C.

    January 16, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    Dear Staff:

    I am a chiropractor working full time. Is there any possibility
    to be part of a program in Illinois whereby I could work towards
    loan forgiveness?


    Jim Bleecker, MS.Ed., D.C

    • Dr. Bleecker, from our understanding, you must work at a “qualified employer” to be eligible for PSLF. Most private practices are not qualified employers.

  2. I am a licensed chiropractor not working as a chiropractor at the moment. Instead I work in a hospital as a respiratory therapist. do I qualify for my chiropractic loan forgiveness?

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