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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

MELS helps member get $145,000

By JOSEPH DAVIDSON, MELS Supervising Attorney

DC 37’s Municipal Employees Legal Services, MELS, recently helped a union member navigate the U.S. Department of Education’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF) and receive forgiveness of $145,000 in student loan debt.

Years earlier, the member had submitted the PSLF Employment Certification Form to his loan servicer, selected a qualifying repayment plan, and enrolled in the PSLF program. Under PSLF, public service workers with direct federal student loans who certify their employment-based eligibility with the appropriate loan servicer, select a qualifying income-driven repayment plan, and make 120 monthly payments toward their student loan debt, can have their remaining student loan balance forgiven.

As the Local 1070 member neared his 120th payment, he believed that his loan servicer was not crediting him for a year’s worth of payments for which he should have received credit. After contacting MELS for assistance, MELS reviewed the matter and agreed.

The loan servicer had only credited 96 payments instead of the 108 actually made. MELS contacted the servicer and obtained clarification and correction of the payment count. This left the member with only 12 payments remaining. The member made the final payments and applied for forgiveness. Shortly thereafter, the member received forgiveness of $145,000 in student loan debt.

“For those who follow the PSLF requirements through to the end, receiving forgiveness can be life changing,” said William Whalen, MELS Director and Chief Counsel. “PSLF is one of the very few paths to real student debt relief and is available to most members of DC 37 in full-time employment. It is a very valuable opportunity.”

For help with Public Service Loan Forgiveness and other student loan problems, call the MELS Screening Unit at 212.815.1111.