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Press Press Releases Statement on New Report Revealing the Extent of the Failures of Public Service Loan Forgiveness for Servicemembers

Statement on New Report Revealing the Extent of the Failures of Public Service Loan Forgiveness for Servicemembers

April 22, 2021 | WASHINGTON, DC — Student Borrower Protection Center Executive Director Seth Frotman released the following statement in response to today’s Government Accountability Office (GAO) report revealing the failures of Public Service Loan Forgiveness for servicemembers: 

“Today, the GAO confirmed what military families have known for decades: the complete failure of Public Service Loan Forgiveness is a national disgrace. Only 124 servicemembers have received one of the most critical protections intended for those who serve our country in and out of uniform. The time for excuses and half-hearted explanations at the Department must come to an end and those responsible for this tremendous betrayal must be fired. Secretary Cardona owes a duty to all who have been denied the promise of PSLF: immediately cancel the debts of all who have served for a decade or more and hold his agency and his contractors accountable for the harm they have caused.”   

Background
Today’s GAO report, Public Service Loan Forgiveness: DOD and Its Personnel Could Benefit from Additional Program Information found the following:

  • Over 94 percent of servicemembers and Department of Defense (DOD) employees who pursued PSLF have been denied;

  • Only 124 servicemembers have been approved for PSLF while 1,410 have been denied, amounting to a 92 percent PSLF rejection rate;

  • Only 163 civilian DOD employees have been approved for PSLF while 3,770 have been denied, amounting to a 96 percent rejection rate; and

  • The Department of Education knows that tens of thousands of servicemembers have federal student loans that are not eligible for PSLF, including 16,195 borrowers with FFELP or Perkins loans and approximately 11,000 borrowers with both Direct and non-Direct loans (borrowers can consolidate ineligible federal student loans into PSLF-eligible Direct loans).

An estimated 200,000 servicemembers collectively owe more than $2.9 billion in student loan debt. Research released prior to today’s GAO report indicated that only 17,534 military borrowers had submitted employee certification forms expressing their intent to pursue PSLF and that as few as 6,800 military borrowers were on track for relief. 

In November 2020, the Student Borrower Protection center published a report titled Protecting Military Borrowers: How the Department of Education Can Restore the Promise of Public Service Loan Forgiveness for American Servicemembers. This report laid out the various breakdowns and areas of mismanagement by the Department of Education and the student loan industry that have denied military borrowers the promise of PSLF. The report also enumerated tangible, concrete steps that the Department could take within authorities already granted to it by Congress to finally fulfill its duties to military families. 

Read the report here: Protecting Military Borrowers: How the Department of Education Can Restore the Promise of Public Service Loan Forgiveness for American Servicemembers

Read the blog post from SBPC Executive Director Seth Frotman and Military Affairs Fellow Mike Saunders here: Why Are So Many of Our Military Members Missing Out on Student Loan Forgiveness?

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