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Student loan forgiveness: The devil is in the details

Question: Did I hear you say on one of your previous programs that seniors who have been paying on student loans for 10 years or more can have the debts dismissed? Mine are a consolidation of federal loans and I haven't missed a payment in the past 10 years. Helen, Portland, OR

Answer: I think the program you're referring to is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Students with federal student loans who work full-time in a wide range of public service jobs can get their debt forgiven after 10 years of eligible employment and qualifying loan payments.

Problem is, the way the program is designed, only payments made after Oct. 1, 2007, count toward the 10 years of monthly payments. Unfortunately, it won't help you out.

Among the list of eligible public service jobs are employment in government, public education, military service, public safety, AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps and many non-profits. There are a number of twists and turns to the program. You can learn more about it at the U.S. Department of Education.

Here is a link to a basic fact sheet.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.
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