Student Debt Solutions

Columbia University Benefits has partnered with TIAA and Savi to provide all faculty and staff with assistance in navigating your student loan debt, repayment plans and federal student loan programs, such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

Your employment at Columbia (a registered 501(c)3 organization), or at other nonprofit or governmental entities, may entitle you to certain loan forgiveness under the U.S. Department of Education’s Public Loan Forgiveness Program. 

    Savi - Student Loan Benefit

    What is Savi?

    Savi is a social impact company dedicated to helping student loan borrowers better understand and manage their student loans.

    This benefit allows you to explore your options around two key aspects of your student loans:

    1. Eligibility: Savi will analyze your loans and all your eligible repayment plans and federal forgiveness programs to help you figure out your best option and potentially reduce your monthly student loan payment.
    2. Loan Forgiveness: Savi will help you understand if you are eligible for enrollment in the Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF), and if so, will guide and support you through the process.

    What is Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

    Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a Federal program that, if eligible, will forgive your remaining student loan debt while you work for a qualified government or 501(c)3 non-profit employer, like Columbia University.

    How does the service work?

    Savi is an online tool to help you:

    1. Understand your optimal student loan repayment plan, including potential loan consolidation, and your estimated monthly savings
    2. Determine your eligibility for participation in PSLF and how much could be forgiven
    3. Enroll in the PSLF program if you decide to participate, including support on process and sending reminders 

    The Savi Essential Service is available at no additional cost to Columbia University employees. In order to qualify for the Essential Service you must verify your account with your Columbia University email address.

    Complete the Assessment

    The assessment will take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete. To get started, you will need to gather some required financial information before you begin:

    • Your social security number (format: 123-45-6789)
    • The first page of your most recent Federal tax transcript* or tax return
    • Logins to any loan servicers (e.g., Navient, Nelnet, Great Lakes). Your login information includes username or email, password, and anything else required to log into your student loan servicer’s website. Your student loan servicer website is the place you go to make payments on your student loans. This information will be used to import your student loan details into Savi during the account setup process

    *A tax transcript is a summary of your recent tax filings that can be requested from the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). Each transcript includes important information for applying to new student loan repayment plans, such as your filing status, adjusted gross income (AGI), wages, and more. You can request a copy of a tax transcript in about 5 minutes by visiting https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript

    Watch An Introduction to Savi video in the Resources section of the right-hand navigation for more details.

    Get Started: TIAA/Savi Student Debt Calculator

     

    Understanding PSLF is complicated. Savi can help you navigate the process and ensure that you follow all the steps necessary to secure your loan forgiveness if you qualify. 

    Based on your responses to the assessment, Savi will provide the following potential solutions:

    • Determine the best repayment plan and your estimated monthly payment
    • Determine if you qualify for a forgiveness plan, how much, and when
    • Generate all of the forms electronically and review them prior to submission to the loan servicer
    • Track applications and forms with loan servicers
    • Provide annual payment and application filing reminders to ensure deadlines are met
    • Send your PSLF Employer Certification Form(s) to Columbia University electronically to verify your employment
    • Track PSLF credits

    Savi also provides ongoing support after the submission of relevant forms and will work with you if and when future action needs to be taken, including support for loan consolidation.

    Questions? Contact Savi at 833-604-1226.

    Public Service Loan Forgiveness

    Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a Federal program that, if eligible, will forgive your remaining student loan debt while you work for a qualified government or 501(c)3 non-profit employer, like Columbia University.

    The PSLF program requirements are summarized below. For details, please see the Federal Student Aid Student Loan Forgiveness website.

    • Employment in public service: You must work full-time (as defined by your employer) for a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, government organization or another select not-for-profit for each month you hope to count towards your 120 qualifying payments
    • Loans through the federal Direct Loan program: You must have federal student loans issued through the Direct Loan program of the U.S. Department of Education. You may also qualify if you consolidate your federal student loans to a Direct Loan
    • Enrollment in an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan: You must enroll in an IDR, which bases your payment on your income, debt amount, dependents and other criteria
    • 10 years of monthly payments: You have to make 120 on-time monthly payments in the IDR, though not necessarily consecutive or with the same employer. Payments before you switched to an IDR may also count towards forgiveness

    Learn More

    Savi is offering webinars and workshops to introduce Columbia University to this new benefit.

    Date: Thursday, September 22
    Time: 12:00 p.m. (ET)
    Register Here

    Student Loan Forgiveness Workshops on a bi-weekly basis: Click here to find a workshop that works for your schedule.

    Student Debt Solutions FAQs

    The Federal Government has a program specifically for people who work for nonprofit, government or public sector employers. If you work for one of these employers, have Direct Loans, and make 120 monthly on-time payments, you may be eligible to have your remaining federal student loan debt forgiven tax-free.


    Entering into PSLF or another forgiveness program requires a commitment to see it through to the end. Switching to an income-driven repayment plan (required if you are working towards PSLF) may actually cause your student debt to increase over time, which can be problematic unless you get forgiveness at the end. If you know you will not be working fulltime in a non-profit for 120 months, then forgiveness may not be the right path for you.  Individuals may want to consult their personal tax or legal adviser before making any decisions regarding the status of their student loans.

    Savi was started as a social-impact public benefit company. The people behind it are student loan experts, advocates and borrowers who have been fighting for many years to improve the broken student loan system. Savi realized that the 44+ million student loan borrowers needed better and more personalized information about how to manage and repay their debt. Savi helps people navigate the valuable but complicated federal programs available to people who work in public service. TIAA has a minority ownership interest in Savi.

    Savi's student loan solution will help you identify eligibility for federal income-driven repayment plans and forgiveness programs designed specifically for people who work at eligible public interest employers, that is, at a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit school, university or hospital; in government or approved governmental entities; or at a few other public interest organizations.


    This service is designed to make that process easier if you are eligible and applying.

    There are two service tiers available to borrowers. 1. A free calculator to assess their situation and get guidance on the best options available. 2. Savi’s Essential service: Columbia University covers the cost of Savi Essential when you use your Columbia University email address at enrollment.

    Savi will administer the program’s ongoing paperwork requirements including annual reenrollment, employer certifications, and filing for PSLF credits with the DOE. This service helps borrowers avoid common and not-so-common errors and to stay in compliance with exacting rules.

    As of December 31, 2021, based on Savi’s internal measurements, Savi users saw average projected savings of $1,880 per year.

    Go to https://TIAA.org/columbia/student and follow the path to explore your federal forgiveness options. You’ll need three things to use Savi effectively:

    1. Your social security number (format: 123-45-6789)
    2. The first page of your most recent tax transcript* or tax return
    3. Logins to any loan servicers (e.g., Navient, Nelnet, Great Lakes). Your login information includes username or email, password, and anything else required to log into your student loan servicer’s website. Your student loan servicer website is the place you go to make payments on your student loans. This information will be used to import your student loan details into Savi during the account setup process.

    *A tax transcript is a summary of your recent tax filings that can be requested from the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). Each transcript includes important information for applying to new student loan repayment plans, such as your filing status, adjusted gross income (AGI), wages, and more. You can request a copy of a tax transcript in about 5 minutes by visiting  https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript

    PSLF is necessarily paired with an income-driven repayment plan. These are repayment plans that take into account your income, student debt, and personal situation and may result in lower monthly payments. The four specific income-driven repayment plans that pair with PSLF are Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Income-Based Repayment (IBR) and Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR). The Standard repayment plan technically qualifies as well, but since this plan spans only 10 years, you wouldn’t have any balance left to forgive after 120 qualifying monthly payments.

    Student debt you've incurred on behalf of children (Parent PLUS loans) may qualify for relief.  You may need to first consolidate them to Direct Consolidation loans; the tool will help steer you in the right direction.

    Please reach out to the Savi Service Desk at 1-833-604-1226. They are available weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (ET).

    To be eligible for forgiveness, you must be a full-time employee of an eligible public interest employer, that is, at a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit school, university or hospital; in government or approved governmental entities; or at a few other public interest organizations.  

    Yes, as long as the combined number of hours you work for each employer equals at least 30 hours per week. Each employer must be a qualifying employer for the employment to be included in determining whether you are employed on a full-time basis. For example, if you worked for one qualifying employer for 10 hours per week and you concurrently worked for a second qualifying employer for 20 hours per week, this would meet the 30 hours per week requirement.

    Source: Studentaid.gov

    Deferment and forbearance: If you’re in a short-term financial bind, you may qualify for a deferment or a forbearance. With either of these options, you can temporarily suspend your payments. The major difference is that forbearance always increases the amount you owe, while deferment can be interest free for certain types of federal loans. If you’re in deferment or forbearance, you’ll stop making progress toward forgiveness until you resume repayment.

    Delinquency and default: The first day after you miss a student loan payment, your loan becomes past due, or delinquent. If you are delinquent on your student loan payment for 90 days or more, your loan servicer will report the delinquency to the three major national credit bureaus. If you continue to be delinquent, your loan can risk going into default. Don’t ignore your student loan payments—defaulting on your loan can have serious consequences.

    Income-driven repayment plan: The standard repayment plan for a Direct Loan from the federal government is 10 years. In order to have any debt left over to forgive, you will need to lower your monthly payments with an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. The four specific income-driven repayment plans that pair with PSLF are Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Income-Based Repayment (IBR) and Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR). You can also get some credit for payments you’ve already made in the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan.

    Loan consolidation: Student loan consolidation is a process through which you take out a new loan, which is then used to pay off your other existing student loans. Instead of having multiple loans and loan payments, you have only one. If you have both federal student loans and private student loans, you should consolidate them separately, not together.

    Loan forgiveness: The most common type of forgiveness is Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). PSLF is designed specifically for people who work in public service jobs, either for the government or for a nonprofit. In order to have debt forgiven under the public service program, you have to make 120 qualifying payments (paying the minimum amount due on time). These payments must be made while you are working “full time” for a qualified employer (see “qualifying employment”). In effect, PSLF wipes away your debt tax free after 120 monthly payments.

    Loan refinancing: With refinancing, you’re taking out a new loan with a different (preferably lower) interest rate to pay off old loans that may have higher interest rates. You end up with one monthly payment that could save you money as long as you don’t extend the term.

    Loan servicer: Your loan servicer is the company the federal government hired to collect payments on your federal student loans. Examples include Navient, Nelnet and Great Lakes.

    Loan types: There are many different types of student loans. Some of the common ones are Direct Loans, FFEL, Perkins, Stafford and private loans through your bank or a company like SoFi. In order for a loan to be eligible for PSLF, it has to be a Direct Loan. Note that FFEL and Parent PLUS loans can qualify for PSLF if first consolidated to a Direct Loan. Private loans are not eligible for PSLF. Keep this in mind if you’re considering refinancing Direct Loans to private loans. There’s no going back!

    Principal and interest: The principal is the amount you borrowed and have to pay back, and interest is what the lender charges for lending you the money. Payments will generally consist of both interest and principal. 

    Qualifying employment: Qualifying employment refers to working full time at a public service job, defined as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit school, university or hospital; government or approved governmental entity; or other public interest organizations.

    Source of Glossary terms and definitions: TIAA/Savi Quick Start Guide 2022

    Please Note: Savi is a third-party service which is not managed or maintained by Columbia University. This is a voluntary service and therefore please review Savi's terms and conditions, and privacy policy.