Matt Tremel is one of 96 people whose student debt was forgiven under the Civil Service Loan Cancellation Program.
Happy endings like hers weren’t meant to be that rare.
A quarter of American workers had to be eligible for the program, which allows some employees of nonprofit and government organizations to have their federal student loans canceled after 10 years.
But the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has discovered that student loan managers are delay or deny borrowers access to consumer protection.
Tens of thousands of people in public service jobs think they are paying their share for a loan forgiveness to find out at some point in the process for one technical reason or another.
As a result, less than 1% of the nearly 30,000 borrowers who applied for the program were approved, according to data from the US Department of Education.
CNBC spoke to some of the few people who managed to navigate the process and are now debt free. Here are their tips.
Source: Matt Tremel
Saxophonist, US Navy
The Education Department forgave Tremel’s $ 14,000 student debt earlier this year. “I was ecstatic,” he said.
His advice may sound a bit cynical. “You can’t trust anyone who tells you something,” he said.
For example, Tremel verified, through the Department of Education website, all of the information he received from his lender. He says you should do the same.
Public service loan remission requirements:
- Your loans must be federal direct loans.
- Your employer must be a government organization at any level, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit, or some other type of nonprofit organization that provides a public service.
- By the end of it, you must have made 120 qualifying and on-time payments under an income-based repayment plan or the standard repayment plan.
Professor, Lee University
Getting his student debt of over $ 135,000 this year was as good as getting his doctorate. two decades ago, said Milliron. “My wife and I cried,” he said.
Milliron recommends being as “proactive as possible”. The first time you make sure you’re eligible for a pardon, he said, shouldn’t be when you apply after 10 years.
“There are too many things that can go wrong,” he said. “You have to stay on top.”
Read and reread the program requirements, he added. He gathered a lot of information from non-profit organizations trying to help borrowers. (The Institute of Student Loan Counselors is an organization, for example, that helps student loan borrowers with free advice).
Kevin Maier is one of 96 people to qualify for a public service loan rebate
Professor, University of Southeast Alaska
In the spring, Maier was informed by the Education Ministry that he had made the 120 qualifying payments required to be eligible for the civil service loan exemption. His loan balance of nearly $ 10,000 fell to $ 0.
“I feel pretty lucky,” he said.
He said people should submit their employer attestation form as often as possible. This document confirms and updates the number of eligible payments you have made.
He sent this form by mail and email sometimes several times a year, to be on the safe side. Every confirmation he received, he classified it.
Nina Pomponio is one of the first people to benefit from a loan discount.
Source: Nina Pomponio
Lawyer, Massachusetts Probation Service
Pomponio realized how few officials had crossed the finish line in a recent phone conversation with a representative from FedLoan, the civil service loan cancellation agent.
“The guy was so excited,” she said. “He said to me, ‘Oh, my god. You’re the first one we’ve seen.’ I was like, ‘Just me?’ “
Pomponio, a lawyer with the Massachusetts Probation Service, received the notice in June that his student debt of $ 50,000 had been canceled.
His advice? Document everything.
During her communications with her lender, she took “many notes including names and reference numbers.”
For more serious problems, she relied on email for a paper trail. At one point, FedLoan’s number of eligible payments was lower than its own. She reviewed her notes and asked the duty officer to explain the discrepancy.
“It was detective work,” she said.