April 17, 2019

Senators Hassan, Shaheen Join in Introducing Legislation to Overhaul Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, Ensure Millions Of Americans Will Now Be Eligible For The Loan Forgiveness They Have Earned

99 Percent of Applicants Have Been Rejected Under Current Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program Due to Failed Implementation by the Department of Education and Loopholes That Made it Nearly Impossible to Be Eligible

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen recently joined thirteen of their colleagues in introducing legislation to overhaul the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The What You Can Do for Your Country Act of 2019 would ensure that millions of teachers, social workers, members of the military, first responders, nurses, public defenders, and other public service professionals will qualify for the loan forgiveness they have earned.

For years, the Department of Education has failed to properly implement the PSLF program, which has resulted in less than 1 percent of all eligible applicants receiving the loan forgiveness they deserve. This bill expands eligibility so that every type of federal loan and repayment plan is now included in the program, and ensures that public servants can count on repayment when they apply for loan forgiveness.

“Hard-working Granite Staters and Americans who dedicate their careers to serving their country deserve the student loan forgiveness they are promised under the law and that they have earned,” Senator Hassan said. “This legislation would overhaul the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and increase eligibility for the program in order to ease the burden of student debt that is holding far too many of these public servants back.”

“The tradition of public service is ingrained in New Hampshire, but too many Granite Staters struggle with the burden of student loan debt that prevents them from serving their communities,” Senator Shaheen said. “We should be rewarding and assisting people who want to give back. This legislation would incentivize public service and rewards public servants for their hard work to strengthen our communities.”

Congress established the PSLF Program in 2007, but of the 1,173,420 public servants who have applied for forgiveness since the program was established, only 55 borrowers were approved according to GAO. Studies have found that millions of borrowers took steps to enroll in the PSLF program, but were told after they had already made payments that they had the wrong type of loan or repayment plan and would not qualify for forgiveness under the program.

The What You Can Do for Your Country Act of 2019 would do the following:  

  • Allow all types of federal loans to qualify
  • Allow all federal repayment plans to qualify 
  • Ensure that the Department of Education provides public servants with clearer information and guidance
  • Allow borrowers to receive a partial forgiveness benefit after five years of public service
  • Simplify the application and certification process

Last year, Senators Hassan and Shaheen and the rest of the Congressional Delegation called on Secretary Betsy DeVos to release more information about the Department’s failure to faithfully implement the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

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