Considering a career in law enforcement? Besides the satisfaction of serving the public good, one benefit of doing so may be the opportunity to take advantage of the student loan forgiveness program for police officers.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness for Law Enforcement
Public Service Loan Forgiveness may offer loan forgiveness of Direct Loans for police officers and other government employees. The program started in 2007 and offers federal student loan forgiveness for borrowers who work full-time in the public service sector and make 120 qualifying on-time payments (you can see all of the qualifications on the federal student aid website).
This means that if you’re a police officer who works for the government and successfully makes 10 years of qualifying payments, you may be eligible to have the remainder of your debt wiped out entirely.
Of course, this option is not available to everyone; you must work for a qualifying employer to earn forgiveness. Generally, government organizations may be considered qualifying employers under PSLF, which means that if you work for tribal, city, county, state, or federal law enforcement, you may qualify.
And because Public Service Loan Forgiveness is not just limited to police officers, other staff at these agencies may qualify as well—even if they’re not on the frontlines. (Note that detention officers who work at for-profit prisons are not eligible because they work for a private company and not the government or non-profit.)
To be sure that your job is considered public service under the PSLF program, you can submit a PSLF employment certification form. This form is used to confirm that your current job qualifies for PSLF benefits.
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Public Service Loan Forgiveness Requirements
In addition to restrictions on the type of employment that is eligible for PSLF, there are other criteria you must meet in order to take advantage of this student loan forgiveness for police officers.
First, your student loans must be Direct Loans, borrowed from the federal government. Private student loans are not eligible for loan forgiveness under PSLF.
Additionally, you may be required to consolidate your federal student loans before you qualify for PSLF. Consolidation is a process by which you combine all of your federal student loans, such as Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, or PLUS Loans, into one new loan.
Further, you must work full-time in order to qualify for PSLF. That means that in addition to working for a qualified employer, you also need to be employed full-time, which is generally 30 hours or more per week.
There is one exception to this requirement, however: If you work part-time for two different qualifying employers and you work more than thirty hours per week between the two jobs, you may still qualify for PSLF.
Finally, in order to take advantage of the PSLF for law enforcement, you must make 120 qualifying student loan payments. That means that even if you’re working full-time for a qualified employer and plan to take advantage of PSLF, you are still responsible for paying back your student loans for 10 years.
PSLF only forgives the amount of your student loan remaining after the 10 years of qualifying payments. And if you miss a month or are more than 15 days late in making your payment, it won’t count towards your 120 total. That means you could end up making more than 120 payments before the government clears your loans for loan forgiveness.
The one bright side here is that the 120 monthly payments you are responsible for before you can qualify for PSLF can be on any valid federal loan repayment plan. This means that you may be able to choose a plan that keeps your monthly payments relatively low until your 120 payments are complete.
Perkins Loan Forgiveness for Police Officers
Perkins Loans, which were offered until September 2017, may also be eligible for forgiveness if you consolidate them into a Direct Consolidation Loan. Perkins Loans were administered and distributed by your college, which often means that borrowers end up paying one student loan payment to the federal government and one to their alma mater. Under the Perkins Loan program , certain employment such as law enforcement and teaching may qualify for a full or partial Perkins Loan cancellation.
To qualify for forgiveness of your Perkins Loans, you must be employed full-time as a law-enforcement officer or in another qualifying position. If you qualify for Perkins Loan forgiveness, a certain percentage of your loans will be forgiven each year of full-time qualifying employment as follows:
Year 1: Forgiveness of 15% of your loan.
Year 2: Forgiveness of 15% of your loan.
Year 3: Forgiveness of 20% of your loan.
Year 4: Forgiveness of 20% of your loan.
Year 5: Forgiveness of 30% of your loan.
That’s right, after five years of qualifying employment, you could be eligible to get up to 100% of your Perkins Loan forgiven if you’re a law enforcement officer. On top of that, you may not have to pay your Perkins Loans while you hold a qualifying job, which can mean you might end up never paying back a penny of your Perkins loan.
Because colleges independently disbursed Perkins Loans, each school also runs its own forgiveness program. To see if you qualify, reach out to your school’s billing department.
Loan Refinancing for Law Enforcement Officials
For law enforcement officials who don’t qualify for PSLF, student loan refinancing may be able to help you lower the cost of your student loan repayment. This involves taking out a new, private loan to pay off your existing loans, which can include federal and private loans). However, keep in mind that if you refinance federal student loans, you permanently forfeit eligibility for federal benefits and protections, including PSLF, income-driven repayment, deferment and forbearance.
Loan refinancing is one of the few ways to potentially decrease the total amount of interest you pay on your student loan. If you qualify, lowering your interest rate can add up to some serious savings over the life of your loan, depending on how long you take to repay it.
If you’re dealing with high loan payments and are looking to free up some monthly cash flow, refinancing may also help you lower your monthly payment. This can be done by getting a lower interest rate and/or extending the length of the repayment term. Just keep in mind that by extending the term, you may end up paying more interest over time.
Additionally, student loan refinancing allows you to focus on paying off your loan over a fixed time period, meaning that you won’t be stuck paying interest on your loans for the rest of your life.
Of course, not all law enforcement officials will benefit from refinancing, particularly those planning on taking advantage of Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Make sure to do your due diligence when picking out a loan repayment plan that is right for you. In general, there are many loan repayment and loan forgiveness options available to law enforcement, which means you can focus on your job instead of your loans.
Student Loan Refinancing With SoFi
Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.
SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.
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