With student debt for 2015 veterinary graduates averaging more than $140,000, it’s clear that debt is an important issue for the veterinary community. Bearing that in mind, veterinarians may be interested in possible changes to paperwork involved in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which forgives the remaining balance on a borrower’s direct loans after the individual has made 120 monthly payments while working for a qualifying employer. These qualifying organizations include governmental bodies and some not-for-profit organizations.
The U.S. Department of Education is considering changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness application, and veterinarians have a chance to comment on these changes to ensure this application is as effective as possible.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program was created in 2007, and the earliest cohort of eligible borrowers will qualify for forgiveness on or after Oct. 1, 2017. To apply for the loan forgiveness under the program, individuals must be employed full-time at a qualifying organization, and must make 120 monthly payments toward their loans during this employment. Qualifying employers include:
- Governmental agencies at any level
- Not-for-profit organizations that have a 501(c)(3) tax exemption
- Other not-for-profit organizations that provide certain qualifying public services
- AmeriCorps or Peace Corps programs
To have loans forgiven under this program, one must complete an Employment Certification Form. Now, the Department of Education is creating an application for forgiveness and also revising the Employment Certification Form with the goal of increasing consistency and understanding.
The Department of Education is accepting comments on these changes through Feb. 13, 2017. The AVMA plans to submit comments to the agency, and we encourage interested veterinarians to submit your own comments as well. You can comment directly to the Education Department on this page. When commenting, here are some questions that you might consider:
- Have you tried to use the program but had problems with the paperwork?
- Do you have suggestions on how to improve the program?
- Could the Department of Education improve the quality, utility and clarity of the information collected?
- Are there ways to make the process easier for respondents?
The AVMA’s formal comments to the Department of Education on this topic will aim to enhance the effectiveness of this program for veterinarians. We look forward to seeing you speak up as well.