ELI5: PSLF, how to?
December 17, 2021 11:40 AM   Subscribe

My non-profit employer apparently has a deal with a company called Savi to help its staff with public service student loan forgiveness. I'm looking for stories from people who have used Savi for this purpose successfully (as in, you signed up and they did something valuable for you, even if you didn't get forgiveness immediately). Or, alternately, a simple explanation of how to do it on my own, and what has to happen for it to work with the new rules in place. Asking because I gave Savi $60 for this service and they have essentially ghosted me... so I may end up having to do this on my own after all?

I have a mid-range student loan I've been working on paying off since god was a child, but because I suck at bills, in general, I have a lot of gaps in payment. (I have a friend help me keep on track with stuff like that now, and my payments are really super on time these days).

I'm trying to figure out if I qualify for PSLF, or if I would qualify at some point before the point when I'd just pay it off naturally without applying for PSLF. My assumption has always been "no" - because of the gaps, capitalized interest, etc, by my math I would have hit 120 qualifying payments about the same time my loan hit $0.

So I never bothered with it, in spite of working at a 503c for the past 11 years. Now, with the temporary new rules in place, I'd like to see if I can qualify, or how many payments I have to go until I qualify, and Savi seemed like a good way to find out. But after signing up, and getting one request for info for them which I immediately complied with, I have not been able to get them to talk to me. At all.

So I looked into doing this myself through the studentaid.gov site, but it looks like to do that I might end up getting my loans somehow transferred to FedLoans - and I don't understand any of that. I got as far as confirming that my company is, in fact, eligible based on their Tax ID, and then I got lost in all the details.

So I need help. I'd love to hear from anyone who has successfully worked with Savi, whether or not you eventually got your loan forgiven. Did they talk to you? How did it work? I'd love confirmation that they actually exist beyond the web site store front that takes your money, which is the only step I have successfully completed. I've tried reaching out to them multiple times via phone, email, and their web contact form. I did eventually get an appointment to talk to someone in two weeks, but I suspect that person is just tech support, as that is the only phone number I could find. They knew nothing, naturally, and could not help beyond setting up the appt.

So alternately, I'd like an ELI5 about what actually happens when you apply on your own through studentaid.gov. I know there are new temporary rules in place to help students through 2022, but I think I have to get moving now. I know you fill out the form and then your employer signs it. But the tool at student aid.gov says that in the process of all this your loans might get transferred to another servicer called FedLoans... and what is that about? Is that okay? I've been fairly happy with my servicer so far. Why do I have to change? If I do change, what happens to my nice low interest rates? I don't want to end up applying, not getting forgiven and then I'm stuck with a servicer I don't like and/or bad rates.

And what happens after I apply? How long does it take to find out if I qualify, or how many payments left until I qualify, or whatever? Do I have to qualify for forgiveness before the new rules expire in 2022, or do I just have to fill out this form and apply before the rules expire?

Sorry about the flood of text; I'm annoyed as hell at Savi and that doesn't actually make understanding the rules of doing it on my own any easier. Any knowledge you can contribute in small friendly words would be extremely appreciated!
posted by invincible summer to Education (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You shouldn't have to pay for help! I applied on my own. It was pretty straightforward. More later.
posted by NotLost at 12:26 PM on December 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

It's difficult to answer without having more information about your current situation, but it is definitely worth taking the time and effort to start figuring it out. Savi is at worst a scam and at best an organization that only tells you what you can relatively easily figure out for yourself, so definitely don't give them (or anyone else) any more money. If you don't want to post more details about your situation here, check out r/pslf, where there are tons of people asking questions with every possible variation of circumstances. Even if you don't want to ask there, you should be able to glean some guidance from reading the other answers.

I was in a pretty good situation - I'd been paying for 15 years but consolidated to FedLoans years ago, had my employment certified anually, and mostly paid on-time, and it was still a bit of a pain for me to navigate everything. After a lot of reading, talking to colleagues and friends, and spending hours on hold to talk to someone at FedLoan servicing, I got everything in place. Last week I got the notification that my loans were forgiven and it was truly one of the best feelings of my life. It's worth sticking with it!!
posted by CheeseLouise at 1:01 PM on December 17, 2021 [9 favorites]

I'm unclear on who holds your loans now, but you should be aware that Fedloan is about to let their servicing contract expire.
posted by aspersioncast at 2:06 PM on December 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I applied for PSLF under the latest waiver that happened in October, and my loans are being transferred to FedLoans right now. They're another government contractor, and they're the ones specifically contracted to review PSLF employers, eligible payments, etc. When you apply for PSLF, if they determine you work for an eligible employer, they will transfer your loans automatically (you don't initiate the transfer). Don't get stressed too stressed about this as it's just part of the PSLF process. I think the Department of Ed controls the interest rates, so I don't think that would change regardless. I don't think Savi would be able to tell you about your payments without you digging up your payment information for them. I'm sorry your employer pushed you to them -- that seems like a bit of a scam.

I wouldn't bother with Savi anymore but instead muck through it yourself. It's not actually that hard, it turns out.

My situation sounds somewhat similar to yours: I have worked for an eligible employer for more than ten years but wasn't in the right repayment plan. That changed with the current waiver. If you've made 120 payments total (and months during the pandemic when we didn't have to pay also count), then you might be eligible already if you have the right kind of loans, even if your payments were late. You don't have to know any of this to apply, though, because they'll get your payment information and review it. You do need to have Direct Loans. If you don't, see if you are eligible to consolidate to Direct Loans.

The PSLF subreddit has been incredibly helpful. It's moderated by folks from the Institute for Student Loan Advisors, whose mission is to give fair, free, neutral student loan advice. Their website and the PSLF subreddit have tons of information. It's a lot to weed through, but maybe this mega thread will help? It's got a great summary with links at the top.

My suggestion is to check that subreddit, read this information from PSLF, and then use the PSLF help tool to fill out the application and add your employer, and have them sign off on your employment dates. That part is pretty easy, especially since you've worked for one place for a while.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:08 PM on December 17, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I'm unclear on who holds your loans now, but you should be aware that Fedloan is about to let their servicing contract expire.

Their contract has been extended for a year to process PSLF.
posted by bluedaisy at 2:09 PM on December 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

The reddit thread shared by bluedaisy is by far the best tool I've found for working through PSLF.

The best way to find out how many payments you have left is just to file the form with FedLoan through studentaid.gov. They will count up all the payments on all your loans and let you know how many more payments are required on each. I do this about once a year, just to make sure it looks right. They will give you a page with each loan, the number of qualifying payments for each loan, and an estimated forgiveness eligibility date.
posted by assenav at 3:21 PM on December 17, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Don't waste your time with third parties. They are virtually all scammers.

FedLoan Servicing is the exclusive servicer for all borrowers who express an interest in PSLF. They are, as noted, only working for one more year in that capacity. Which is good. They are terrible. But there's no avoiding them, for now. And you shouldn't wait, because the opportunity to bring certain otherwise ineligible payments or loans under the umbrella of the program only lasts til October 2022.

All you need to do to start the process is to fill out the Employment Certification Form (ECF) from the FSA (government) website. This will require you to obtain certification of your dates of employment from your past and present public interest employers. You will be notified of the transfer to FedLoan--you don't have to do anything in that regard. Read those emails carefully; they will tell you when to start paying FedLoan instead of your prior servicer. FedLoan will (eventually) come back to you with a "qualifying payment count," which is the number of payments you've made towards the 120. I strongly encourage you not to rely on this number if anything seems off, but to request a detailed payment tracker, which should show you exactly which payments qualified and which didn't, and for what reason. And then document everything as comprehensively as you can (e.g., if they say you made payments late and you know you didn't, pull your actual bank records).

Given your loan history, I think you should be prepared for the possibility that PSLF won't benefit you much. But it's worth giving it a shot.
posted by praemunire at 8:18 PM on December 17, 2021

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