Solely 5% of those that utilized for public service mortgage waiver obtained it

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In January, Anna Brekken had finally made 120 student loan payments, the number where the civil service loan relief program is designed to allow borrowers to cancel the remainder of their debts.

When she submitted her plea for forgiveness, she was excited to give up her $ 100,000 balance and run out of $ 580 monthly loan payments. And for the first time in twelve years she could think of quitting her government job to do something else. Her dream is to teach English in South America.

But then her student loan broker FedLoan came back and said she hadn’t made 120 payments yet, but closer to 80. That would mean Brekken would have to pay her student loans for another three years.

“It’s devastating,” said 39-year-old Brekken. “It’s going to be a lot more money. Why did you do this program if you didn’t want to forgive anyone? It’s like a program in name only.”

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Most borrowers still do not have access to debt relief under the government loan relief program, which aims to allow nonprofit and state employees to cancel their state student loans after 10 years.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, only about 5% of student loan borrowers who applied for relief by April 30th have qualified. This means that only about 3,700 out of 171,000 borrowers who hope for forgiveness have received it. In 2013, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimated that a quarter of American workers might be eligible.

However, the program is plagued by problems.

Many civil servants believe that they will pay their way to lending only to find at some point in the process that they are unskilled for one technical reason or another. And borrowers often complain that service providers under-count their payments and keep putting off their forgiveness date.

President Joe Biden has promised to improve the program, but it is unclear when these changes could come.

The US Department of Education and FedLoan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In the meantime, there are steps borrowers can take to improve their chances of forgiveness.

Understand the four basic requirements of the program:

  1. Your loans must be federal direct loans.
  2. Your employer must be any level government organization, 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, or any other type of non-profit organization that provides public services.
  3. You must repay your student loan in one of four income-based repayment plans.
  4. In the end, you must have made 120 qualifying, on-time payments.

First, check that your student loan, payment plan, and employer meet all of the requirements.

Borrowers can get a list of their federal loans by signing up at StudentAid.gov. You want to make sure that your loans are direct loans. Federal family and educational loans and private loans do not qualify.

There are 14 ways to repay your student loan, but to be eligible for government loan waiver you must be enrolled in one of these four income-based repayment plans: income-based repayment, income-based repayment, pay-as-you-go, and pay-as-you-go-pay .

Finally, to ensure that your employer is qualified at least once a year, you should fill out what is called an employer certification form and submit it to your servicer. These forms also enable you to keep a record of your confirmed qualifying payments.

It is particularly important to fill out this form when changing employers, says university expert Mark Kantrowitz.

Keeping a record of your payments can also protect you when it comes to proving that you’ve made the full 120, he said.

“Borrowers should keep a table for each payment with the date of the payment, the amount of the payment, the repayment schedule and the eligible location,” said Kantrowitz. “If there are ever any problems, this table will be helpful in solving them.”

Keep in mind that even if you haven’t paid your student loans during the government’s suspension of bills through September, those months will still count towards your required 120 payments. (That’s at least 19.)

If your credit servicer insists you missed 120 payments and you believe you did, then you should keep making payments, Kantrowitz said.

“When they actually make the required number of payments, the additional payments will be refunded to them,” he said.

In the meantime, you can dispute your credit service provider’s count. Again, it helps if you can provide a record of your payments and your employers over the past ten years.

Brekken is currently in the process of doing this, and luckily she had a record.

“I submitted my payment history in black and white,” she said. “And I’ll have to keep pestering you.”

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