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Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program

"The positive impact PSLF has on staff can improve the quality of life for people who work in a very demanding field. It also enables a higher retention rate for agencies." - Department of Children, Youth and Families

What is the PSLF program?

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a federal program that forgives the remaining balance on Direct loans for public service employees after they have made 120 qualifying monthly payments (approximately 10 years) under a qualifying repayment plan while working full time for an eligible public service employer. 

In March 2022, in response to the student loan debt crisis facing the country, the state Legislature passed legislation to raise awareness and remove barriers for public service employees to access the PSLF program. This legislation was built upon in March 2024. All guidance and information on this webpage reflects current PSLF program requirements. While the PSLF program is a key benefit of public service employment, many people who qualify for the program do not access it.

Who must follow these PSLF program requirements? 

Washington state agency employers are required to help their employees access the program by sharing the PSLF eligibility letters below and by completing the employment certification portion of the PSLF form for employees who request it. For the purposes of the PSLF program requirements (RCW 28B.77.009RCW 43.41.425, RCW 41.04.045, and RCW 41.04.055), Washington state agencies include the following: 

  • Departments, offices, agencies, or institutions of state government,
  • the legislature,
  • institutions of higher education,
  • school districts, and
  • educational service districts.

PSLF eligibility letter templates

As part of our efforts to make the certification process easier for Washington state agencies, we have partnered with the Office of the Student Loan Advocate to create the following notice templates you can use to support your employees on their path toward loan forgiveness:

  • PSLF Notice for New Employees. State agencies are required to share this letter (web or print version) with new employees during the onboarding process to introduce the PSLF program and employment certification process.  
  • PSLF Annual Notice. State agencies are required to share this letter (web or print version) with employees on an annual basis and any time PSLF regulations change to continue raising awareness of the program and the resources available.
  • PSLF Notice for Separated Employees. State agencies are required to share this letter (web or print version) with employees during the separation process, so they know which steps to take to receive and potentially continue receiving PSLF credit.

PSLF program regulations may change from time to time. We will periodically update the letters to reflect the most up-to-date PSLF rules. If you would like to receive updates when these materials are updated, please join our PSLF distribution list

How does the PSLF employment certification process work? 

  1. Employees initiate the employment certification process by submitting the employment certification portion of the PSLF form to their agency's PSLF contact via the PSLF Help Tool or by completing a manual PSLF form. Employees will need their agency's employer identification number (EIN) and PSLF contact email address in order to submit their PSLF form for processing. They can find this information using the Washington state agency directory of PSLF contacts. Employees should certify their employment annually. 

  2. State agencies digitally sign and return the form through the PSLF Help Tool, which is then submitted to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) for processing. Manual PSLF forms are returned to the employee for them to send to FSA for processing by mail to U.S. Department of Education, P.O. Box 300010 Greenville, TX 75403 or by fax to 540-212-2415. 

PSLF Guidance for Washington state agencies

For detailed information about how you can help your employees access the PSLF program, reference the guidance below. The linked documents provides information on how to implement the requirements of Washington state law, the federal PSLF rules, and recommended best practices from the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), the Office of the Student Loan Advocate, and OFM State HR. 

We’re here to assist PSLF employers! If you have any questions about the PSLF process as an employer, please send your question(s) to

Request to be added to the PSLF distribution list to receive updates from OFM State HR about the PSLF program. 

Which contractors qualify for PSLF?

Contracted employees generally do not qualify for PSLF, except when state laws prevent qualifying employers from hiring direct employees to fill specific positions or provide certain services. So far, in Washington state, we have identified the following contractors that qualify under this exception: Contracted public defense attorneys for the Office of Public Defense. Contact if you believe you qualify for PSLF under this exception. 

How many people have benefited from the PSLF program in Washington state?

Between March 2022 and March 2024, 19,220 public service employees in Washington state have received a total of $1.298 billion dollars in federal student loan forgiveness through the PSLF program. 

Chart showing the number of Washington borrowers with processed PSLF discharges. In March 2022, there were 3,110, and as of March 2024, there are 19,220. Chart showing the amount of loans forgiven in millions through PSLF in Washington State. In March 2022, there were $205.4 million dollars forgiven, and as of March 2024, there has been $1.298 billion dollars of federal student loans forgiven through PSLF.

These charts show information collected beginning November 9, 2020. This data was not available segregated by state until March 31, 2022, which is why the charts above begin on that date. Data source: U.S. Department of Education. (2023, June 30). Public Service Loan Forgiveness Data. Federal Student Aid. 

Information for Washington state employees

The Office of the Student Loan Advocate's PSLF webpage has many helpful resources to help public service employees navigate the PSLF program. If employees have questions about the PSLF program, direct them to these resources: 

“Getting my student loans forgiven through the PSLF program has been life changing! The Student Loan Advocate helped me navigate the application process and gave me peace of mind while I was struggling.” – Judy Johnston, Department of Children, Youth and Families

“I attended a [PSLF] workshop offered through Washington's Student Loan Advocate (and I sure am glad I did!). … I’m happy to report I got my discharge letter in April of this year! … Forgiveness is lifechanging. It makes it possible not just to survive but to prosper. It opens up even more possibilities for my future and my upcoming retirement years.” – Shelly Wistie, Employment Security Department

Last updated
Monday, July 8, 2024
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