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A student-debt forgiveness story: Meet a public servant eligible for relief who just got $20,000 wiped out after an 11-year wait

August 31, 2021

David O'Keefe is one of the lucky ones.

In August, he managed to get the remaining balance of his student-debt load wiped out — $20,338.42 of his original $61,236 — via the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. As Insider previously reported, PSLF has rejected 98% of applicants, making O'Keefe one of the fortunate 2%.

Getting his debt canceled was no easy feat, the 36-year-old Tallahassee-based public accountant for the state of Florida told Insider.

PSLF is intended to forgive student debt for public servants such as nonprofit workers, teachers, and other government employees after 120 qualifying monthly payments, but it's reportedly riddled with flaws such as processing errors and lack of communication from the companies that run it.

After O'Keefe made his 120 payments — 10 years' worth — he applied for forgiveness, and for seemingly no reason, he kept hearing he was ineligible.

He's lucky that he kept calling.