Leslie Ahuvah, a seminarian who hopes to become a hospital chaplain, has done some investigating on the impact of the Dept of Education’s new criteria for the Public Service Loan Forgiviness program. The bottom line is that anyone concerned needs to contact the company issuing the loan and find out what its policy is.
Here is her comment in full:
I had several illuminating conversations today with the Department of Ed and Direct Loan Services. Below is the text of an email I sent to my seminary’s financial aid office that I think will be of interest to your readers as well:
Today I called the Dept of Ed and asked for an explanation of the new language. I was told that Dept of Ed was not responsible for making decisions regarding what jobs qualify for PSLF, and that I needed to contact my loan servicer directly. In my case, that is Direct Loan Services.
The information that I received from Direct Loan Services directly contradicts the new language on the Dept of Ed fact sheet. The representative I spoke with sent me to a page on myedaccount.gov explaining their policy, but unfortunately it requires you to sign in in order to view it. Here is their definition of who qualifies for PSLF:
“To be eligible to have some or all of the remaining balance of your Direct Loan(s) forgiven because you are a public service employee, there are specific eligibility requirements, including:
You must be employed full-time in (in any position) by a public service organization when you make each of the required 120 separate qualifying monthly payments, when you submit your application for forgiveness, AND when the balance of the loan is forgiven.”
I looked over this information while on the phone with a Direct Loan Services representative. I asked him specifically: “Does this mean that people employed by churches holding nonprofit status, or those employed by nonprofits who do work that is religious in nature, will qualify for PSLF?” The representative answered: “Yes. We have no restrictions except for the nonprofit status of your employer, and that you make the appropriate number of payments on time while employed by them.” I asked him if he was aware of the contradictory information on the Dept of Ed website, and all the arguing going on in the media between clergy/their advocates and various Dept of Ed spokespeople, and he cut me off, saying: “We do not have any regulations regarding religious work.”
I requested a hard copy fact sheet containing this information … and then called back and went through the whole process again to see if I would get the same story twice. I did.
I encourage everyone who is concerned about what the new language on the Dept of Ed website might mean for them to find out who holds their loans (Dept of Ed will tell you this) and then contact your servicer directly to find out their policy.