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A Deeper Look at the Department of Education Loan Forgiveness Data

September 23, 2018

Only 96 borrowers have gotten student loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Why so few? Let's take a look at the data.

A few days ago, the Department of Education released a quarterly report about borrowers seeking loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

Related. Federal Student Aid announcement of PSLF report.

Many news outlets grabbed hold on 2 numbers: the total number of applications submitted (over 30 thousand) and the total number of borrowers who’ve gotten their loans discharged (96).

loan forgiveness data

Those numbers are bad.

But like most things, they don’t tell the full story.

And under this presidential administration, which, in its 2019 budget and in HR 4508, has proposed ending the PSLF program, it’s important to know the full story.

Sidenote. The Department of Defense has opposed ending the PSLF program. Earlier this year, the DoD issued an information paper stating that the PSLF program has been “an important recruitment and retention tool for the military to compete with the civilian sector.”

So without further delay…

Here’s what the data says about the 10 year forgiveness program

  • 28,081 people have submitted a total of 32,601 applications. (You can submit more than one application.)
  • Of the applications submitted, 28,913 have been processed.
  • Of the processed applications, 289 have been approved by FedLoan.
  • And of those 289, a total of 96 borrowers have discharged a combined total $5.52 million in federal student loans. (That’s an average of $57,500 per person.)

That’s the good news — at least for those 96 people.

Related. View the Public Service Loan Forgiveness quarterly report spreadsheet

Over 20 thousand Public Service Loan Forgiveness applications denied for missing a program requirement

The bad news is that 20,521 applications were denied because they didn’t meet at least one of the program requirements.

As a reminder, there are 5 requirements for the PSLF program:

  1. You must have Direct Loans;
  2. You must work full-time;
  3. You must work for the government or a qualifying nonprofit;
  4. You must make payments under a qualifying repayment plan; and
  5. You must make 120 monthly payments.

For some of those borrowers, they missed the first requirement. And that’s the worst one to miss. If your loans aren’t Direct Loans, you’ll have to consolidate them to become a Direct Loan.

Related. How to get public service loan forgiveness [5 steps]

When you consolidate, you reset the 120 clock. You don’t get credit for any payments made. For example, if you’re a teacher, that means you’re looking at another 10 years in the classroom before your loans can be forgiven.

teacher loan forgiveness


About 8 thousand PSLF applications denied for missing information

On a brighter note, 8,103 applications were denied simply because information was missing.


Once the missing information is received, there may be many more people joining the 96 who’ve already gotten their loans forgiven.

Final thoughts

The PSLF forgiveness is a blessing — if you can get it.

With thousands of dollars of student loan forgiveness on the line, don’t trust your servicer to have your best interest.

You need to actively protect your loan forgiveness.

You can get my help if you want it. I charge a flat fee. To get started, shoot me an email or: