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Student Loan Advocate (SLA)

Three women at work

SLA: Assisting student loan borrowers in Washington

The Student Loan Advocate collaborates with other state agencies to support current and future student loan borrowers in Washington State by:

  • Addressing student borrowers' questions and complaints.
  • Providing borrowers information and resources about student loans.
  • Educating the public about the rights and responsibilities of student loan borrowers.

Upcoming Webinars

Upcoming Webinars

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): New Regulations and Limited-Time Opportunities

Have you heard about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, but are not sure if you qualify? Do you want to know whether the new PSLF regulations could benefit you? In this webinar, you will get an overview of the PSLF program, including:

  • Whether you may benefit from consolidating your loans before April 30, 2024, for the IDR Payment Adjustment.
  • The new PSLF regulations that went into effect on July 1, 2023.
  • IDR Payment Adjustment and how it may help you get PSLF credit for certain periods of forbearance, deferment, ineligible loans, or ineligible repayment plans.
  • Steps to apply and stay eligible for PSLF.

Webinar dates and times:

  • April 2, 2024, 12:00-1:30pm (one hour webinar followed by 30 min Q&A). Register today!

If you’re unable to attend, we will post a video recording, presentation slides, and transcript on the Student Loan Advocate webpage following the webinar.

Presenters:
Kaity Cazares (they/them), PSLF Policy and Performance Analyst
Jessica M. Manfredi (she/her), Student Loan Advocate
Amber Hay (she/her), PSLF Advocate

Understanding the Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Payment Adjustment

Last year, the Department of Education began implementing the IDR Payment Adjustment, leading to 18,350 Washingtonians being identified for forgiveness as of early November 2023. Between now and July 2024, more borrowers will continue to be identified for forgiveness or get closer to achieving forgiveness due to this limited-time opportunity!

The IDR Payment Adjustment can provide substantial retroactive credit towards a borrower’s 10 to 25-year Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) term. Join this webinar to learn how you can benefit from IDR plans and this limited-time initiative, including:

  • If you have never enrolled in an IDR plan before.
  • If you recently enrolled in an IDR plan.
  • If you are interested in learning how IDR plans may lead to student loan forgiveness.
  • If you are interested in learning more about Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans, including the new the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan.
  • If you have FFEL or Perkins Loans, what steps you must take before April 30, 2024, to benefit.

The webinar will be on March 1, 2024, 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. (one hour webinar followed by 30 min Q&A). Register today!

If you’re unable to attend, we will post a video recording, presentation slides, and transcript on the Student Loan Advocate webpage following the webinar.

Presenters:
Jessica M. Manfredi (she/her), Student Loan Advocate
Amber Hay (she/her), PSLF Advocate

Past Webinars

Past Webinars

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): New Regulations and Limited-Time Opportunities

Have you heard about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, but are not sure if you qualify? Do you want to know whether the new PSLF regulations could benefit you? In this webinar, we discussed the new PSLF regulations that went into effect on July 1, 2023, as well as the IDR Payment Adjustment and how it may help you get PSLF credit for certain periods of forbearance, deferment, ineligible loans, or ineligible repayment plans. We also provide guidance on the steps to apply and stay eligible for PSLF.

You may also access the presentation slides and transcript.

Get Ready for Student Loan Repayment

Does the thought of restarting your federal student loan repayment on September 1, 2023, sound overwhelming to you? Are you confused by all the different repayment options available? Did you graduate during the payment pause and are not sure where to start with your student loans? 

In this webinar, we discussed the steps you need to successfully navigate returning to student loan repayment. Watch our recorded webinar below lean more.

You may also access the presentation slides and transcript.
 

PSLF Waiver 2.0: Get a Second Chance with the IDR Account Adjustment

Have you heard about the PSLF Limited Waiver Opportunity but think you missed the deadline? Do you have Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (Parent PLUS) loans and think you don't qualify? 

In this webinar, you will learn how to get many of the benefits and more from the waiver under the upcoming Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Account Adjustment. You may need to take action before the end of 2023 to benefit from this opportunity! Watch our recorded webinar below to learn more.

You may also access the presentation slides and transcript

Stay Informed

Stay Informed

Sign up for email updates from the Student Loan Advocate to receive info about future webinars and other important student loan announcements and news.

Contact the Student Loan Advocate

Contact the Student Loan Advocate

To ask questions about your loans (including PSLF and other types of forgiveness) or file a complaint, use the Washington State Student Complaint Portal.

Our Student Loan Advocate will be happy to help you.

Ask Washington's student loan advocate about: 

  • Income-driven repayment (IDR).
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).
  • Delinquency and default.
  • Deferment and forbearance.
  • Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) discharge.
  • Closed School discharge.
  • Consolidation.
  • Other student loan questions.

Announcements

  • Payment Count Adjustment: In the past, there were a variety of reasons why some months may not have been credited toward Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) loan forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)—for example, months when you were in a payment plan that wasn’t eligible.
        
    With this payment count adjustment, the U.S. Department of Education will change whether certain payments or months are credited toward your loan forgiveness. Borrowers with loans that have accumulated time in repayment of at least 20 or 25 years as a result of the adjustment will see automatic forgiveness, even if those borrowers are not currently on an IDR plan.

    The payment count adjustment will count time toward IDR forgiveness, including:

    • any months spent in economic hardship or military deferments in 2013 or later;
    • 12 or more months of consecutive forbearance or 36 or more total months of forbearance;
    • any months spent in any deferment (with the exception of in-school deferment) prior to 2013; and
    • any time in repayment (or deferment or forbearance, if applicable) on earlier loans before consolidation of those loans into a consolidation loan.
       
  • Please note, repayment status does not include periods of in-school deferment, bankruptcy, or default.

    We encourage borrowers who have commercially managed FFEL, Perkins, or Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program loans to apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan by April 30, 2024, if they want to receive the full benefits of the payment count adjustment.

    Learn more and read the Q&A on the Payment Count Adjustment page.
     

  • Update on the payment pause: The COVID-19 payment pause ended on August 31, 2023. Interest started accruing on Department of Education-held loans starting September 1, 2023. First payments were due starting October 2023. Borrowers should receive a bill/notice 21 days before payment is due. Learn how to prepare for the return of student loan repayment.
  • The U.S. Department of Education announced an “on-ramp” period over the next year to help vulnerable borrowers. From October 1, 2023, to September 30, 2024, missed, partial, or late payments will not lead to negative credit reporting, default, or loans being sent to collection agencies. Borrowers who can make payments should do so, as payments will be due and interest will accrue during this on-ramp period.
  • The U.S. Department of Education announced a new Income-Driven Repayment plan, the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan. The SAVE Plan provides the lowest monthly payments of any IDR plan available to nearly all student borrowers. Learn more about SAVE and how to enroll.
  • Get out of default with Fresh Start. Fresh Start is a one-time temporary program from the U.S. Department of Education that offers special benefits for borrowers with defaulted federal student loans. Learn how you can sign up for Fresh Start in 10 minutes or less.
  • Looking for information about public service loan forgiveness? Visit WSAC's PSLF page to learn more about loan forgiveness for eligible government and nonprofit employees.

    Common terms

  • Loan servicer. A loan servicer is a company that handles the billing and other services on your federal student loan. 
  • Direct loans. A federal student loan borrowed directly from the U.S. Department of Education to attend a participating school. 
  • Loan discharge. Cancellation of a borrower's obligation to repay all or a portion of the remaining principal and interest owed on a student loan. 
  • Direct consolidation loans. When borrowers combine many loans into one new loan. 
  • Discretionary income. The difference between your annual income and 150 percent of the poverty guideline for your family size and state of residence.

Income-driven repayment 

Income-driven repayment (IDR)

Borrowers can base their monthly student loan payments on their income. Depending on loan eligibility, the loan payment could be anywhere from 10-20% of discretionary income. Low-income borrowers could have a monthly income-driven payment as low as $0.

Get more information

Loan forgiveness programs

Loan forgiveness programs

Public service and debt forgiveness. Borrowers who have full-time public service jobs could be eligible for debt forgiveness if they do all of the following:

  • Work at least 30 hours per week for local, state, federal, or tribal government or nonprofit organizations.
  • Have Direct loans.
  • Are on an eligible income-driven repayment plan.
  • Make 120 on-time payments on their student loans.
Get more information

Payment delinquency, default

Payment delinquency and default 

Borrowers with delinquent payments can get back on track. Many borrowers fall behind on their student loan payments at some point. Borrowers who are currently behind on their loans, but have not yet defaulted, may be able to lower their monthly payments.

Get more information

Borrowers can get out of default. Borrowers who have already defaulted on their loans still have options. They can get out of default and avoid having their wages garnished or tax refunds withheld. Visit these links below for more information.

Get more information

Deferment and forbearance

Deferment and forbearance 

Short break from making loan payments. Deferment and forbearance are good options for borrowers who need a break from making student loan payments. These options are best if used for a short period of time. Why? Interest continues to grow, which increases the amount borrowers must pay back.

Get more information

Disability discharge

Total and permanent disability discharge (TPD)

Discharge student loans due to disability. Loan discharge may be an option for borrowers who are disabled and unable to engage in substantial gainful activity due to their disability. Substantial gainful activity is a level of work performed for pay or profit that involves doing significant physical or mental activities, or a combination of both. Nelnet, a federal student loan servicing company, handles all TPD applications.

Get more information

Closed schools and loans

Closed schools and loans 

Class action lawsuit: Sweet v. Cardona. Sweet v. Cardona has reached a settlement and it has been finalized. For more information visit Sweet — Project on Predatory Student Lending (ppsl.org) 

Discharge student loans due to school closure. Sometimes schools close before students can finish their credential. Students in this situation, who have also taken out loans to pay for their education at the closing school, may be able to get a closed school discharge. Borrowers can qualify if they were:

  • Unable to complete their education because their school closed.
  • Attending classes when their school closed.
  • On an approved leave of absence when their school closed, or if the school closed within 120 days after they withdrew.

Students who do not meet one of the above qualifications can still apply for loan forgiveness through a separate program called Borrower Defense to Repayment. Borrower defense is an application for loan cancellation for students whose school misled them or engaged in other misconduct in violation of certain state laws.

Get more information

Consolidation

Consolidation

Update: Starting in November 2022, the Department will be conducting a One-Time Payment Count Revision for eligible IDR borrowers. Borrower who have commercially manage FFEL, Perkins, Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program or other non-Direct loans should apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan by May 1, 2023, to get the full benefits of the one-time account adjustment.

Combine many loans into one loan. There are trade-offs to consolidating federal student loans. This might make monthly payments simpler or more affordable. However, borrowers can also lose some benefits and consolidation may extend repayment time.

It’s easy to consolidate federal student loans online, and there is no fee or cost for borrowers. Borrowers should research their options before making a decision.

Get more information

Resources in other states

Other state resources

State Student Loan Ombuds programs

Federal resources

About the student loan advocate

The student loan advocate has independent statutory authority to analyze and monitor laws and policies that impact student loan borrowers at the federal, state, and local level, and to make recommendations. The student loan advocate also works directly with loan borrowers to address complaints and help them navigate issues and identify resources.