Current Student Loan Debt Forgiveness and Repayment Options for Social Workers
Department of Education Announces Additional Improvements
to the PSLF Waiver and Income-Driven Repayment Programs
On April 19, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education announced
that it will
bring student loan borrowers closer to public service loan and
income-driven repayment (IDR) forgiveness
by addressing historical failures in
the administration of the federal student loan programs.
The actions include:
- Ending “forbearance steering” by enforcing
existing regulations which require loan servicers to provide clear and accurate
information about their options for staying out of delinquency.
- Conducting a one-time revision of IDR payments
to address past inaccuracies.
- Permanently fixing IDR payment counting by
reforming Federal Student Aid’s IDR tracking.
Encouraging News for Student Loan Borrowers: Payment Pause Extended Through August 31, 2022
On April 6, 2022, the
extended the student loan payment pause through August
31, 2022. Borrowers do not have to pay their student loans during this period,
and they will not accrue interest or be referred to collections. In addition,
the U.S. Department of Education is moving to pull millions of federal student
loan borrowers out of default status and mark their accounts as current, giving
borrowers a “fresh start” on repayment.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness Limited Waiver Opportunity Through October 31, 2022
The Department of Education has overhauled the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program through a waiver. Read the Department of Education press release.
The PSLF Coalition, of which NASW is a member, has a fact sheet on the PSLF Waiver and how to apply for student loan forgiveness.
The waiver will run through October 31, 2022. Borrowers who need to consolidate must submit a consolidation application by that date. Similarly, borrowers will need to submit a PSLF form — the single application used for a review of employment certification, payment counts, and processing of forgiveness — on or before October 31, 2022, to have previously ineligible payments counted. The Department recommends borrowers take this action through the online PSLF Help Tool.
NASW is working with the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC). The SBPC is hosting a webinar about accessing PSLF in light of the waiver.
You can find out more about the overhaul and how to access Public Service Loan Forgiveness on the Student Borrower Protection Center website.
Public service professionals, including social workers, may be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
This program allows licensed clinical social workers up to an initial $50,000 to repay student loans in exchange for two years of serving in a community-based site in a high-need designated Health Professional Shortage Area. Social workers may be eligible for additional loan repayment funds through one-year continuation service contracts.
According to the Council on Social Work Education’s report, 2019
Statistics on Social Work Education in the United States, "Educational
debt for baccalaureate and master’s social work graduates is higher
today than it was 10 years ago. Master’s graduates have, on average,
more than 50% more debt today; in 2019, the average loan debt amount was $46,591, compared to $30,789 in 2009. On average, baccalaureate graduates had $29,323 in loan debt in 2019, compared to $24,683 in 2009."
The report finds that 73.3% of baccalaureate graduates and 76.1% of
master’s graduates have loan debt. According to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics, a social worker’s median salary is only $51,760.
While there are federally authorized loan forgiveness programs available to social workers, additional resources are required.
2019 statistics on social work education in the United States - Council on Social Work Education
U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, Social Workers - Bureau of Labor Statistics,