Changes Coming to Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
Thursday, October 7, 2021
SEATTLE -- An overhaul of the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program could bring relief to more than 550,000 student-loan borrowers nationwide who work in government or nonprofits.
The program aims to provide student-debt relief once a government or nonprofit employee has worked and made monthly payments for 10 years, but many borrowers report finding the process difficult to navigate.
Dr. Jessica Saint-Paul, who works at a healthcare nonprofit, found out while she had been working toward forgiveness, she discovered her payment plan did not qualify for assistance.
"After 10 years, that's when I found out, 'Oh, you're in the wrong loan, and you're not in a payment program. So you're going to have to start over from scratch,'" Saint-Paul recounted. "So there was no difference between me and a borrower who is starting for the very first time repaying their loans starting at zero."
Half of Washingtonians graduated with debt in 2019. The changes announced Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Education include a waiver to make all federal loan repayments qualify towards forgiveness, even ones not previously eligible. In addition, the new plan commits to helping active-duty service members access the program.
Bob Ferguson, Washington's Attorney General, was among 22 AGs across the country who called on the Department of Education to take steps to fix what they called the "broken" forgiveness program, noting the Department had rejected 96% of applications.
Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education, said they are ready to turn that around.
"You've done so much to help our community, and it's our turn to serve you," Cardona pledged. "You were made a promise, and it's now our turn to deliver on that promise."
The average amount borrowers in Washington state owe is more than $24,000. Groups advocating for student debt relief say fixes were long overdue, but also hope to see more measures to cut down on student loan debt for folks who may not be in the government or nonprofit sectors.
get more stories like this via email
Frustrated environmental and clean-energy advocates say after four long years of debate and compromise, regulators sent Arizona back to the starting …
When North Dakotans head out to cast their ballots later this year, there is a chance some will do so in a voting center and not a designated …
South Dakota continues to grapple with its low ranking when it comes to paying schoolteachers, but the issue is getting focus in 2022, including a …
Health and Wellness
Washington state lawmakers are considering a measure to limit the growing cost of prescription drugs. Senate Bill 5532 would establish a …
The Maryland Air National Guard is considering a proposal to establish airspace where military planes would fly as low as 100 feet over the Pennsylvan…
The state of Illinois is allocating nearly a quarter-billion dollars to support new downstate transit and ports projects. Roughly half will go …
Health and Wellness
Advocates and faith groups are calling for more investments in harm reduction across the state, as new provisional data shows overdose deaths have …
More than 300 Kentucky farmers participated in the state's Farms to Food Banks program last year, and at a recent virtual rally, state officials said …