May 24, 2018

Whitehouse Encourages Rhode Islanders to Apply for Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

Department of Education issues criteria for $350 million Whitehouse-led student loan forgiveness initiative

Washington, D.C. – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse today announced that the U.S. Department of Education has launched a process for federal student loan borrowers to be reconsidered for loan forgiveness under a temporary expansion of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program.  The $350 million temporary loan forgiveness program was created based on a Whitehouse provision that became law in March.  The new law offers an opportunity for student loan relief for eligible Rhode Islanders working in public service fields, like teachers, social workers, and military personnel, who sought to use the PSLF program but were nonetheless left with massive loan balances they thought would be forgiven.

“This relief couldn’t come a moment too soon for the public servants who have been denied the loan forgiveness they earned,” said Whitehouse, who sponsored a related PSLF provision after being contacted by a constituent who was left with an unexpected loan balance.  “I encourage all Rhode Islanders in public service fields who believe they were wrongfully rejected to reapply to the program as soon as possible, as this funding will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.”

Congress established the bipartisan loan forgiveness program in 2007 to help graduates in public service professions pursue sometimes lower-paying careers serving their communities without facing decades of crippling loan payments.  The program allows borrowers to erase the balance of their student debt if they spend 10 years working for a nonprofit or government employer while making qualifying payments.  Due to a lack of consistent and clear guidance from loan servicers and complicated program requirements, some borrowers believe they are making qualifying payments under the program when they are not.

Under the new Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF), loan forgiveness will be applied for public servants who meet certain criteria on a first-come, first-served basis, until the program funding is exhausted.

Borrowers may become eligible for loan forgiveness if some or all of their payments made on William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program loans were made on a non-qualifying repayment plan for the PSLF Program.  The Department will reconsider eligibility for the TEPSLF opportunity using an expanded list of qualifying repayment plans, which includes the Graduated Repayment Plan, Extended Repayment Plan, Consolidated Standard Repayment Plan, and Consolidated Graduated Repayment Plan.

In order to qualify for the TEPSLF opportunity, a borrower must have:

  • Submitted the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Application for Forgiveness and had that application denied because some or all of the payments were not made under a qualifying repayment plan for PSLF;
  • Worked at least 10 years of full-time employment with a qualifying employer, certified by the employer, and approved by the Department; and
  • Made 120 qualifying monthly payments under the new requirements for the TEPSLF opportunity while working full-time for a qualifying employer or employers.

Borrowers who believe they may qualify for forgiveness through the TEPSLF should follow the Department of Education’s guidance, and email a request for reconsideration to  Rhode Islanders who aren’t sure if they qualify should contact Whitehouse’s office at (401) 453-5294 or


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