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How to Find Employers Eligible for PSLF

If qualifying for PSLF is your goal, finding the right employer can be a challenge.

Written By: Michael P. Lux, Esq.

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Initially, it might seem difficult to determine which employers are eligible under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

Many student loan borrowers struggle to figure out if their current employer is eligible for PSLF. Assessing future employment opportunities for eligibility can be even more daunting.

Luckily, there are several resources designed to assist borrowers in finding employers that are recognized for PSLF purposes.

Finding Government Jobs – The Classic PSLF Option

Landing a government job is well-known route towards qualifying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Unfortunately, there’s no single database that lists all available government jobs. Borrowers seeking employment with a government will need to explore multiple different databases.

USAJobs.gov – If you are looking for a job with the federal government, USAJobs.gov is the ideal place to start a search. Most, but not all, federal agencies post job listings on this site.

State and Local Government Websites – Some government agencies are excellent at promoting vacancies broadly, while others may only list them on specific government sites. The more effort you have to put in to finding a job listing, the less competition you’re likely to find. It’s a good idea to find and bookmark the career pages of state and local governments you’re interested in.

Agency Specific Websites – If there is a specific government agency that you wish to work for, be sure to check out their website. Some government entities advertise their vacancies only on their own websites. For example, your local library may post its jobs exclusively on its site, rather than on the local government website. Job hunters that bookmark and frequently check these pages will have a competitive edge.

Despite the typically lower salaries compared to the private sector, government positions are highly competitive. The advantages go beyond Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Government jobs are usually considered to be stable and often offer excellent benefits programs.

Fortunately, government jobs are not the only path to PSLF.

Nonprofit Employers – 501(c)(3)s

Another significant option for employment that qualifies under PSLF is through a nonprofit organization.

Some nonprofit organizations recognize the appeal of PSLF eligibility and prominently mention it in their job postings. Others may not mention it at all.

To find potential nonprofit employers, searching job boards such as LinkedIn or Indeed with the keyword “nonprofit” can be a very effective. Additionally, seeking out specific nonprofits and watching their job opportunities pages is another good strategy.

Just like with government jobs, there is no single database that provides a comprehensive list of all nonprofit job openings. The more digging you do and the more creative you get with your search, the higher your chances of finding suitable opportunities.

It’s important to note that not all nonprofits are eligible for PSLF. Nonprofits classified as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations are eligible. Other nonprofits may also qualify. However, nonprofits such as those that are partisan political organizations or labor unions are not be eligible for PSLF.

Jobs to Avoid – The Confusing Potential Employers

The PSLF eligibility status of contractors affiliated with a government or nonprofit is a confusing issue for borrowers. Some positions may appear to alight with government or non-profit work, but do not count towards PSLF.

For example, if you work as a custodian for a nonprofit hospital, you are probably eligible. Alternatively, if you work as a custodian at a nonprofit hospital, but are employed by a third-party cleaning services company, you are probably not eligible.

Key Takeaway: What you do or where you work does not matter for PSLF eligibility. The distinction lies in who your direct employer is.

Verifying Employer Eligibility As Soon As Possible

While employer assurances regarding PSLF are encouraging, more work is necessary to ensure eligibility.

The Department of Education will not take into account what your employer has promised about eligibility. If they employer isn’t eligible, none of the time spent working there will count towards PSLF. Thus, it is critical to verify eligibility as soon as you are able.

Borrowers can take certain measures during the interview and hiring process to help ensure eligibility:

During Job Interviews – Many job interviews are coordinated by an HR representative or recruiter. These individuals often will know if the employer qualifies under PSLF.

Looking up the Employer EIN (Employer Identification Number) – The Department of Education has a great resource called the PSLF Help Tool. Borrowers can investigate employer eligibility using the employer’s EIN. The SEC has a search engine that allows people to look up a company’s EIN, though this information is limited to publicly traded companies; so, the EIN for government agencies and non-profits often won’t be provided.

After Getting Hired – No matter how confident you are about your employer’s eligibility for PSLF, you should still submit an employer certification form (ECF) after your first couple of months on the job. The ECF is the only definitive method to verify eligibility. Additionally, it also triggers an account review to ensure you are on an eligible repayment plan and have eligible loans.

Addressing issues with employer eligibility, repayment plans, or loan types often means resetting the ten-year progress toward forgiveness. Assumptions can lead to errors, potentially delaying forgiveness for months or years.

About the Author

Student loan expert Michael Lux is a licensed attorney and the founder of The Student Loan Sherpa. He has helped borrowers navigate life with student debt since 2013.

Insight from Michael has been featured in US News & World Report, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous other online and print publications.

Michael is available for speaking engagements and to respond to press inquiries.

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