Department of Education Streamlines Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

Government agencies are making strides in enhancing citizen services through new Customer Experience (CX) strategies. As a High Impact Service Provider (HISP), the Department of Education has been tasked with enhancing CX by making it easier for borrowers to apply for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

As reported in Forbes, the Department of Education has recently deployed a streamlined process that allows borrowers to apply for a federal student loan forgiveness program geared toward public service careers.

The PSLF program provides federal student loan forgiveness in as little as ten years or after 120 “qualifying” monthly payments to borrowers that work for U.S. federal, state, local or tribal government or not-for-profit organizations.

A key part of this program is adding electronic signature and submission capabilities to the PSLF Help Tool to allow borrowers to electronically sign and submit the PSLF form for processing as either an application for loan forgiveness or employment certification.

Overall, the Department of Education was looking to simplify workflows and automate manual tasks related to signing and managing loan forgiveness documentation, as well as meet the growing needs and expectations of public servants. This includes offering 24/7 self-serve, mobile-friendly online applications and digital tools that streamline user experiences and accessibility.

The old manual, error-prone process

The previous processes required borrowers to print their PSLF form, manually sign, and have their employer(s) sign. From there, they had to submit the form to the PSLF servicer for processing.

In addition, the process for completing the PSLF Employment Certification form to request “credit” toward the 120 payments required to receive student loan forgiveness under the program was previously more error-prone. Many forms were rejected due to technicalities such as a misspelled name or an unchecked box. Typed signatures made to mimic a hand-drawn signature were also not accepted.

Signatures from a borrower or employee needed to be hand-drawn from a signature pad, mouse or finger, or by taking a picture of a signature drawn on a piece of paper that you then scanned and embedded on the signature line of the PSLF form.

The new streamlined process

In addition to providing an “Employer Search” tool to make it easier to determine if an employer is a qualifying public service organization, the new streamlined process offers an electronic signature option for borrowers.

Through the PSLF Help Tool, borrowers or employers receive an email from the Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid via Docusign requesting they certify employment and electronically sign the form.

This new process ensures data accuracy by eliminating the previous pain point of receiving missing or incorrect data. This digital distribution speeds up the application's turnaround time and the agency’s processing time. It also better engages with public constituents by providing modern digital experiences from wherever they’re located. Ultimately, this change—driven by electronic signatures—may make it easier for borrowers to request relief and reduce the chances that an application gets rejected.

Looking ahead

The rollout of the PSLF program reinforces how the Department of Education is making progress toward reimagining government experiences.

Serving more than 4,000 local, state and federal public sector organizations, and over a billion users, Docusign helps public sector officials to focus on their mission instead of paperwork, deliver a better constituent experience, reduce costs, and streamline processes.

Docusign eSignature also makes it easier to route documents or bulk send forms and notifications to multiple users. Docusign eSignature also offers an accessible signing experience that conforms to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and WCAG 2.1 AA. The sending experience supports WCAG 2.0 AA guidelines and is in the process of updating to WCAG 2.1.

Security and accessibility are two key components of advancing government CX. DocuSign eSignature and Docusign CLM are FedRAMP Moderate and Department of Defense (DoD) Impact Level 4 (IL4) authorized.

Learn how Docusign supports the public sector here.