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Media Domino: A Blog About Student Debt Frontline Workers Who Fought Through the Pandemic Are Being Denied Promised Student Debt Forgiveness

Frontline Workers Who Fought Through the Pandemic Are Being Denied Promised Student Debt Forgiveness

By the Student Borrower Protection Center | August 30, 2021

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, frontline workers across the nation have stepped up to serve our communities while putting their own health on the line. Teachers serve in our classrooms, healthcare workers care for our sick, and millions of workers are performing other essential services that support our economy and society.

These workers have been under enormous strain. Unfortunately, student debt adds to that burden. But after rising to the moment, these brave men and women are faced with broken promises and denied student debt relief because of the failures of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

Who are our frontline workers?

One in four Americans work in public service. Teachers, healthcare workers, and others at the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic face unique challenges. Many workers incurred this debt in the form of graduate degrees or other professional certifications that are required for the critical work they do for others. However, salaries for those who pursue careers in public service have not kept up with the cost of these credentials. As a result, these workers are particularly likely to plan their financial futures around the promise of PSLF.

Teaching, nursing, and the service industries that make up many of our essential workers are professions that overwhelmingly tend to be made up of women and disproportionately include people of color. These same populations also disproportionately bear the brunt of the student debt crisis.

When the pandemic is over, our frontline workers will have gone above and beyond in fulfilling their promise to serve. They should not have to worry about the federal government delivering on its promise to erase public service workers’ student loan debt. Unfortunately, for so many that is not the case.

Now, for the first time, the federal government is asking those who depend on the program to help decide what comes next. The U.S. Department of Education has an open public inquiry asking for borrowers to share their stories about public service and debt forgiveness. Borrowers on the frontlines are standing up to share their stories and drive policy change. 

Share your PSLF story

Teachers returning to classrooms

Workers providing critical healthcare 

Nurses on the front lines of the pandemic

Social workers delivering critical care


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.

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