Mobile users scroll down to find your item

Big Sky Connection

Public employees can wipe away their student debt more easily with a streamlined program from the federal government. Applications for the overhauled Public Service Loan Forgiveness program are due by the end of October. Comments from Jordyn Rogers, deputy director, Rural Dynamics.

Click on the image above for the audio.  The federal government announced its overhaul of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program last year. (Stephanie Zieber/Adobe Stock)

Eric Tegethoff

April 19, 2022

Changes to a federal loan-forgiveness program are erasing debt for public employees, but people have a limited window to consolidate their debt under the overhauled program.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program cancels student debt for public servants after they make 10 years of payments, and was streamlined by the Biden administration last year.

Jordyn Rogers, deputy director of the Great Falls-based nonprofit Rural Dynamics, said the people they have helped qualify for the program have expressed gratitude.

"Just an incredible amount of relief to have one source of debt paid off," Rogers observed. "In some cases, people then can use that extra income to purchase a home for the first time or consider having a career path in the private sector."

The Biden administration's waiver makes certain loan programs and repayment plans that did not qualify for forgiveness eligible for the program. Borrowers must apply by Oct. 31. The U.S. Department of Education estimates the change will help about 550,000 Americans.

Because the program eliminates student debt after 120 monthly payments, Rogers pointed out people should save proof they have made their payments.

"That's probably one of the big ones that we tell our consumers is to track how many payments that you're making on your end," Rogers outlined. "If there is a question of it being eligible you can go back with proof and show that you made that payment."

Rogers added one of the main reasons people are turned away is they do not work for a qualified employer. She encouraged people to use the Education Department's PSLF Help Tool to see if they are eligible.