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Can I Still Qualify for PSLF if I am on FMLA?

If you’re a college-educated professional employed in the public sector and enrolled in a student loan forgiveness program, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), you may be wondering how certain circumstances can affect your PSLF eligibility, namely Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). So, if you are currently on FMLA leave or considering it, read on to learn how it affects your eligibility for PSLF and what to do to maintain it.

PSLF and FMLA: A quick rundown

First, let's review what the PSLF program entails. PSLF is a federal program designed to help individuals working in public service jobs reach student loan forgiveness in 10 years. By making 120 qualifying payments while employed by a qualifying nonprofit or government organization, you may be eligible to have the remaining balance of your federal student loans forgiven. This program serves as a valuable opportunity for those who dedicate their careers to public service.

The (FMLA) is a federal law that provides eligible employees with job-protected leave for specific family and medical reasons. It's important to note that FMLA leave is unpaid, but eligible employees can use accrued paid leave during their leave to receive compensation. FMLA helps eligible employees maintain their health insurance during their leave and ensures they can return to their same or equivalent position after their leave ends. If eligible, employees can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for:

  • Birth and care of a newborn
  • Adoption or foster care placement
  • Serious health condition
  • Caring for a family member
  • Qualifying exigency such as when a family member is called to active military duty

Addressing the question at hand: Can you still qualify for PSLF if you are on FMLA?

The short answer is yes. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes authorized leave, including FMLA, as qualifying employment for the purpose of PSLF. This means that taking FMLA does not disqualify you from the program and you can still get credit towards forgiveness. However, there are important factors to consider to ensure you stay on track toward loan forgiveness.

Key Considerations

Maintaining continuity in your loan payments is crucial, even during FMLA leave. While your income may be temporarily affected, any payment made during this period will still count towards the required 120 qualifying payments. Consistency in loan payments is key to staying on the path to forgiveness. It's important to budget and plan accordingly to ensure your loan payments are made on time, even during times of leave.

Another consideration is your employment status. PSLF eligibility does require full-time employment with a qualifying employer, but you can take up to three months of leave from your job per year and still qualify. Consult with your employer's HR department or designated contact person to understand their policies surrounding FMLA to determine how leave affects your employment status and PSLF eligibility. From there, your employer may be able to provide guidance on any necessary documentation or steps you may need to take to ensure your PSLF eligibility remains intact.

Staying on track

For those dedicating their careers to public service, the PSLF program is a great way to work toward loan forgiveness in 10 years. If you are pursuing PSLF and are on, or considering going on FMLA leave, it is important to understand the factors that can affect your eligibility and plan in accordance to maintain good standing. With thoughtful planning and open communication with your employer, you can stay on track to reach your goal of student loan forgiveness.

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