Student Loan Forgiveness Program Expanded
Effective July 1, 2021, eligibility rules for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program have been changed. This change creates a new opportunity for clergy members and other employees of not-for-profit organizations engaged in faith-based work to potentially have certain student loans forgiven under the PSLF Program.
The PSLF Program is administered by the U.S. Department of Education and designed to support careers in public service. The PSLF Program forgives the remaining balance of an eligible individual’s student loans that were provided under the federal government’s Direct Loan Program (or consolidated into a Direct Loan) after the individual has made 120 qualifying monthly payments.
To be eligible for loan forgiveness, an individual must be working full-time for a qualifying employer and meet other eligibility requirements. Not-for-profit organizations that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code — such as local churches, annual conferences, church-controlled agencies and church-associated organizations — can be qualifying employers. In the past, applicable rules excluded applicants from counting hours spent on “religious instruction, worship, and any form of proselytizing” toward the full-time work requirement. The Department of Education has removed this exclusion effective July 1.
The PSLF Program’s eligibility requirements and application process are complex. Clergy members and lay employees who are interested in learning more about the PSLF Program and the recent change are encouraged to visit the Department of Education’s PSLF Program website.
The information above should not be considered legal or tax advice. Individuals, annual conferences, local churches, or other employers or parties should consult with their own counsel and other adviser.
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EY Financial Planning
Whether you’re new to the Church, or 30 years into your career or ministry, finances play a significant role in how you live — today and in retirement. You may have managed your own finances, but it’s a good idea to make sure you are on the right track by speaking with a financial professional. Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath) offers confidential, objective financial counseling at no charge* to eligible participants** from EY, formerly known as Ernst & Young.
EY financial planners have special training in topics important to participants, including Wespath-administered plans and programs, and the clergy housing allowance.
* Costs for these services are included in Wespath’s administrative expenses that are paid for by the funds.
** Financial planning services are available to active participants and surviving spouses with an account balance in Wespath-administered plans, and to terminated and retired participants with an account balance of at least $10,000.
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To speak to a financial planner, call 1-800-360-2539 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
Housing and Tax Ramifications
Ministerial Compensation Report
Every year the NTC Board of Pension and Health Benefits sponsors a Retirement Benefits Seminar for all clergy in November. Representatives from the Wespath as well as a local CPA are present to provide information on pensions, health insurance in retirement (OneExchange) and taxes.
For questions, contact Shirley Miller at 972-526-5008.
Housing Allowance Resolutions
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Wespath’s Center for Health partners with Willis Towers Watson’s Via BenefitsTM, one of the nation’s leading providers of health care solutions for Medicare-eligible retirees. The Via Benefis program offers assistance in selecting Medicare supplemental health coverage for eligible retirees, spouses and certain disabled participants using individual Medicare supplement plan markets. Via Benefits provides a portal to Medicare supplemental plans available from more than 90 health insurers (“carriers”) nationwide, as well as administration for tax-advantaged Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) from which retirees can pay their Medicare supplement premiums.
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Wespath Retirement Videos
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