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Forgiveness of New Jersey Student Loans May Include More People Than Realized

(The Center Square) – Federal policy promoted by state leaders will enable access by tens of thousands more New Jerseyans to student loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and other public officials are among key advocates.

“As more than 10% of all New Jersey adults currently owe outstanding federal student loan balances, we estimate that as many as 100,000 employees of governmental and non-profit organizations in New Jersey are eligible for PSLF,” Jennifer Azzarano, director of communications for New Jersey’s Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, told The Center Square.

The PSLF Program is more than a decade old and helps relieve the student loan burden for long-time federal, state, local or tribal government or not-for-profit employees. To qualify, employees must work a minimum of 10 years in public service and have made 120 “qualifying” monthly payments on certain federal student loans, according to studentaid.gov.

On Oct. 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced that until Oct. 31, 2022, a federal waiver is in place that will allow loan payments that wouldn’t normally count under PSLF to count toward the 120-payment threshold. Now too, employees who were late on a payment or were on the wrong payment plan can get another chance at loan forgiveness.

A release from the governor’s office says approximately 30,700 Garden State borrowers participate in the program and 3,000 New Jerseyans have taken advantage of the temporarily relaxed eligibility requirements and have been approved for loan forgiveness.

Many people who might be eligible for PSLF credit under the current waiver still may not know. HESAA is partnering with the Murphy administration to raise awareness of this limited-time opportunity.

“We’re working with Governor Murphy’s office and the U.S. Department of Education to ensure that all state and local government employees in New Jersey hear about this opportunity,” Azzarano said.

HESAA has attempted to share news of the waiver with New Jersey borrowers through mailings, conferences, state legislation, and its regular messaging and communications.

“The Biden-Harris administration has worked hard to tackle existing student loan debt,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal. “I am proud that we are turning the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program from a promise broken into a promise kept.”

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