US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona delivers remarks at the department’s Lyndon Baines Johnson Building in Washington, DC on January 27, 2022.

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Temporary changes to the struggling public service loan forgiveness program have given more than 110,000 people with student debt relief of about $6.8 billion.

New figures from the US Department of Education show how many borrowers are benefiting from policy fixes announced by the Biden administration last year. Hundreds of thousands more could still see their debt repaid as part of this effort. The average amount of debt reduction per borrower is nearly $60,000, according to the Department of Education.

The Civil Service Loan Forgiveness was signed into law by then-President George W. Bush in 2007 and allows nonprofit and government employees to have their federal student loans forgiven after 10 years. or 120 payments. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that a quarter of American workers could be eligible.

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However, the program has been plagued with problems, resulting in few who actually benefit from the aid.

Borrowers often believe they are paying for loan forgiveness only to find out at some point in the process that they do not qualify, usually for confusing technical reasons. Lenders have been accused of misleading borrowers and botching their deadlines.

Reforms under the Biden administration include reassessing borrower deadlines and counting certain payments that were previously ineligible because, for example, a borrower was unwittingly in an ineligible repayment plan.

How can I benefit from the new rules?

For starters, you want to act quickly, said Mark Kantrowitz, a higher education expert.

Indeed, the Biden administration’s new rules for canceling public service loans are due to expire on Oct. 31.

If you have a Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) or a Federal Perkins Loan, which normally do not count towards civil service loan forgiveness but now do so temporarily, you will need to consolidate these into Direct Loans with your service agent.

“It usually takes 30 to 45 days for consolidation to occur,” Kantrowitz said.

“Borrowers should do this even if they don’t expect to have 120 payments by the deadline, as previously ineligible payments will only count if they do,” he added.

Additionally, borrowers will also need to prove that their work was considered a public service for the entire time they are trying to make it count for forgiveness. To do this, you’ll want to file with your servicer a so-called Employer Certification Form for each job you’ve had throughout your timeline.

Borrowers currently unemployed or not working in government can still get a discount now, as long as they’ve made 120 eligible payments in the past, Kantrowitz added.

Also, keep in mind that months during the government payment pause and federal student loan interest relief, which have been in effect since March 2020, count toward the program, even if you don’t have paid.

Some borrowers seem to get forgiveness automatically after government verification of these accounts.

Nonetheless, following these steps will ensure you benefit from it.