New Department of Education Data Uncovered by Senator Murray Reveals How the Promise of Public Service Loan Forgiveness is Being Broken in Every State

By The Student Borrower Protection Center | August 17, 2020

Last week, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) released Broken Promises: Employer Certification Failure, an investigative report exposing several new areas of mismanagement and abuse in the administration of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. This report came as part of an ongoing, top-to-bottom joint examination of PSLF by the AFT and the SBPC aimed at identifying breakdowns and errors that have jeopardized earned debt forgiveness for public service workers. In doing so, this investigation seeks to expose how borrowers have been ripped off and failed by a broken student loan system and to offer a roadmap to protect these borrowers going forward.

Now, thanks to new evidence obtained through the dedicated work of U.S. Senator Patty Murray, we are finally beginning to understand in detail how many people across the country are being denied PSLF protections that they are guaranteed under the law. Specifically, Senator Murray submitted a formal request to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for state-by-state information on PSLF applications and outcomes after the Secretary testified before the Senate in March. Senator Murray’s inquiry has yielded new data offering the first glimpse into how many borrowers in each state are being rejected from the PSLF program and the Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF) program that was created to fix it.

Broken Promises for Borrowers Nationwide: a State-By-State Map of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF), and Employer Certification Form (ECF) Rejections

AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY DC

Note: Data as of 4/6/2020. Data was rounded by ED to the nearest five applications. Data was redacted by ED in instances where the number of applications in a given status (including “denied”) was less than 10.

This new data also shows the number of times the Department of Education (ED) has denied the Employer Certification Forms (ECF) of borrowers in each state and offers detail at the national level on the reasons why ECFs are denied. An ECF is a form that borrowers can submit to the Department of Education to confirm that their employer is a public service organization per the terms of PSLF. The data Senator Murray uncovered shows that ED has rejected more than one million ECFs. As the AFT and the SBPC outlined in Broken Promises, ECF rejections can unnecessarily keep eligible borrowers from securing their right to loan forgiveness. 

Borrowers who have been denied PSLF deserve justice. It’s time for policymakers to restore the promise of Public Service Loan Forgiveness and to end a decade of mismanagement and industry abuse.