Q&A with PSLF Program Manager, Shawn Atienza

Shawn PSLF

Shawn Atienza is the Manager of GradFin’s PSLF Membership Program. We recently sat down with Shawn to learn more about his role at GradFin and the valuable service that he provides for student loan borrowers pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Q: What is your role at GradFin?

A: I am the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program Manager here at GradFin. My role is to help guide borrowers through the PSLF process and ensure that they are on the right track toward forgiveness.

Q:What is your background and what do you like about your job at GradFin?

A: Before working at GradFin, I worked primarily in the Financial Services sector with banks, such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Navy Federal Credit Union. PSLF may seem exceedingly difficult to achieve for many borrowers because of its strict requirements, and many borrowers get rejected. This is a huge problem! I like being part of the solution and helping borrowers feel more comfortable with the program.

Q: Why should some people not refinance their student loans?

A: For many borrowers that work for either a non-profit or government organization, Public Service Loan Forgiveness can offer more cost-effective repayment for their student loans. PSLF allows borrowers to take advantage of tax-free loan forgiveness after 120 qualifying payments in an Income-Driven repayment plan.

Q: Why is it so important to help people stay in compliance with PSLF?

A: Unfortunately, PSLF has an extremely high rejection rate. 99% of borrowers who applied for PSLF in 2019 had their applications rejected. I take great pride in being able to ensure borrowers are on the right track toward forgiveness through our PSLF membership program.

Q: Can you name a few success stories you have had with borrowers pursuing PSLF?\

A: Absolutely. In many cases, borrowers may find that their qualifying payments for PSLF are not being recorded accurately. GradFin has a lot of success in getting these qualifying payments retroactively counted. I have helped borrowers recover as many as 60 qualifying payments retroactively. This is over 5 years of payments!