By the Student Borrower Protection Center | July 26, 2021
Today, hundreds of thousands of teachers, nurses, frontline workers, and other public service professionals face financial hardship and uncertainty. They were promised student loan forgiveness in exchange for years of service to their communities and their country. But after rising to the moment, working on the frontlines through a national pandemic, serving in our classrooms, delivering healthcare, and in some cases risking their lives, they have been denied debt relief and left behind.
This week, for the first time ever, the U.S. Department of Education is asking for the public to share their stories about public service and debt forgiveness. Now is the time to call for the government to keep its promise to public service workers!
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program was created to alleviate the burden of student debt for dedicated public service workers. The idea was simple: work in public service for ten years and have your remaining student debt forgiven. Unfortunately, it has been plagued by problems and abuse at every turn.
We’ve seen the numbers, and our public service workers deserve so much better.
- Ninety-eight percent of PSLF applicants have been denied loan forgiveness and the program to fix this has a denial rate of 97 percent.
- Out of hundreds of thousands of military members with student debt, only 124 have had their loans forgiven.
- The nearly 150,000 PSLF application backlog is causing borrowers months of delay and uncertainty around when loan payments restart.
- Mismanagement and abuse by student loan companies have left hundreds of thousands deeper in debt and blocked access to PSLF for those with older federal loans.
And the list goes on and on…
With one-in-four Americans working in public service, this broken promise hits every corner of the country:
- Teachers serving in our classrooms;
- Members of the military serving in uniform at home and abroad;
- Nurses and other frontline healthcare providers leading our nation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
- Firefighters and other first responders protecting our homes and our communities.
Restoring the Promise of PSLF
The Department of Education’s public inquiry into the PSLF program offers renewed hope for public service workers. For the first time, the federal government is asking those who depend on the program to help decide what comes next. This is our chance to make the case directly to President Biden and Secretary Cardona that PSLF is broken and that only sweeping action to deliver debt relief can right a decade of wrongs by the Department of Education and the student loan industry. Public service workers have done their part—now it is time to keep the promise of PSLF.
Share Your PSLF Story
So, we are urging America’s public service workers: it’s time to raise your voices, share your stories, and tell Washington the time for empty promises is over.
- Did you get bad information about PSLF from a student loan company?
- Did your student loan company lose your paperwork or give you the runaround?
- Did delays keep you in debt longer or force you to make extra payments?
- Were you told you were on track for PSLF only to learn years later that your service didn’t count?
- Even though you work for a nonprofit or government, were you told that your job didn’t qualify you for PSLF?
Tell President Biden and the Department of Education that now is the time to honor America’s commitment to public service workers and deliver debt relief! Sharing what happened to you will also help others the system has let down. Together, borrower stories can make a difference.
To share your PSLF story, click here.
Additional resources from the Student Borrower Protection Center related to the Department of Education’s request for input on PSLF are available here.
Our statement on the Department of Education’s request for input on PSLF: SBPC Statement on Department of Education Inquiry into the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
More on the SBPC’s work to drive transparency and hold the Department of Education and the student loan industry for failures around PSLF is available here.
The Student Borrower Protection Center is a nonprofit organization focused on alleviating the burden of student debt for millions of Americans. The SBPC engages in advocacy, policymaking, and litigation strategy to rein in industry abuses, protect borrowers’ rights, and advance economic opportunity for the next generation of students.