Candidly, the market’s most comprehensive student debt management platform, today announced the release of its automated Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) tool. Adoption of this new tool transforms the PSLF application process, reduces complexity for borrowers, lowers the administrative burden on resource-strapped employers, and ensures error-free applications for review by the Department of Education (DOE) and associated student loan servicers.
PSLF is the most generous loan forgiveness program offered by the DOE; unfortunately, it is also painfully underutilized. The program was created for borrowers who have specifically chosen to work in the public interest – teachers, hospital workers, government workers, and those working for nonprofits are all likely to qualify for PSLF. Yet, student debt continues to cause high stress and churn in these roles. For example, 50% of nurses see student debt as their largest and most important financial concern. The issues arise in determining eligibility and a complicated application process: borrowers must confirm if they work for a qualifying employer, if their employment status grants them program eligibility, which of their student loans are eligible for the program, and then identify and educate the necessary HR administrator to certify applications before sending it to their loan servicer and the DOE.
As a result, only 6.7% of those eligible for PSLF have even applied for the program and only 2.1% of those who have applied have been approved. The DOE statistics around PSLF indicate that there is a lack of borrower and employer awareness of the program, eligibility requirements are difficult for applicants to understand, and application errors and inconsistencies are still rampant. These errors lead to an operational overload on the institutions charged with processing applications that further disadvantage borrowers.
Candidly’s new guided PSLF tool addresses these problems. For borrowers, checking whether or not they are eligible for PSLF is as simple as connecting their loans to the platform. The tool handles all of the PSLF eligibility checks on the borrower’s behalf – including the new expanded-access PSLF waiver requirements – to simplify the application so that it only takes borrowers an average of 90 seconds to submit their application. Powering this streamlined user experience are Candidly’s proprietary algorithms that provide sophisticated guidance and immediate actions that borrowers can take to maximize loan forgiveness in the long term.
This guidance – such as consolidating loans and/or switching to a different repayment plan – is context-aware and incorporates the temporary PSLF expansions. Employees can also track their eligibility status and payment history, request important certification forms digitally, and receive automated reminders for annual recertification. The value of Candidly’s tool has been proven through its usage statistics: 65% of users who apply for PSLF through Candidly are eligible borrowers who have never applied for PSLF before, and these eligible borrowers are on track to have an average of over $67,000 of debt forgiven.
For employers, Candidly has digitized and automated key elements of the PSLF application process, dramatically reducing operational overhead. In addition to providing employees and HR administrators with a content-laden knowledge center to learn about PSLF, Candidly has created an HR administrator portal. Prior to using Candidly’s PSLF tool, many administrators were left to research program eligibility requirements manually and hand-approve individual paper applications, which is a time-intensive and inefficient process that Candidly addresses with its digital portal. By automating much of the employee eligibility verification process, Candidly has reduced the burden on the HR administrators dramatically: it takes employers an average of 79 seconds to certify an employee’s application, and Candidly handles the rest of the process – standardizing all applications to eliminate human form-fill errors, then sending it to the borrower’s loan servicer and DOE for their review.
“We are thrilled that our digital tool has demonstrably expanded borrower access to the PSLF program, and has simplified and streamlined the borrower forgiveness application experience,” said Laurel Taylor, CEO and founder of Candidly. “In partnering with Candidly, employers can reduce their own administrative burden, reduce financial stress for their employees, and drive improved outcomes for two key groups: employers who struggle with talent acquisition and retention in the midst of talent wars, and employees who would benefit from a debt-free future while doing heroic work that benefits our communities. In providing this elegant digital solution, we’re driving to a future where every student loan borrower working in the public interest receives every benefit that they are due.”
Candidly, formerly FutureFuel.io, is an AI-driven student debt and savings optimization platform that addresses the full lifecycle of education expenses and empowers people to make simultaneous progress on paying down student debt and building wealth. Candidly partners with leading employers, and financial services companies serving the workplace like 401(k) and 403(b) record keepers, financial institutions, retirement plan advisors, and more, to embed its experience anywhere a user works, banks, or experiences financial services. The platform supports flexible integration options including outlink, SSO, widget integration, and APIs that meet partners where they really are in resourcing, technical debt, and product resourcing/roadmap capacity. Candidly supports multiple branding options including white labeling and co-branding.
Candidly understands that education is one of the largest investments most people will make in a lifetime — whether for themselves or their children. Candidly brings compassion, authenticity, and confidence to Americans as they navigate their higher education pursuits — past, present, and future. Candidly is backed by leading venture capital and strategic investors including Aflac, Equal Opportunity Ventures, Impact Engine, Rethink Impact, Salesforce Ventures, UBS, Unum, and Vulcan Capital. For more information, visit www.candid.ly.