By Allie Bidwell, NASFAA Senior Reporter
A group of more than 150 Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday sent a letter to the Department of Education (ED), urging the agency to release more comprehensive information on the implementation of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
Led by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), ranking member of the House education committee, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate education committee, the lawmakers said it appears that both ED and its federally-contracted student loan servicers “have failed to provide borrowers with the service and support these borrowers need to realize forgiveness.” The letter comes just after ED released data showing only 96 borrowers thus far have had their PSLF applications approved, and that more than 28,000 applications to date have been denied.
“We are deeply troubled that millions of dedicated public servants may not obtain the loan forgiveness that they deserve if the Department does not act quickly to correct program implementation issues,” the lawmakers wrote.
Shortly after ED released the new PSLF application data, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) also released a report critiquing the agency for not providing sufficient guidance to either servicers or borrowers in implementing the loan forgiveness program.
The lawmakers asked ED to, by Nov. 28, 2018, provide answers to a number of questions, such as a state-by-state breakdown of the number of PSLF applications that have been received, approved, and denied, a disaggregated number of applications denied for each of nine different reasons, the number of borrowers assigned to each of several federal student loan servicers at the time of PSLF application, and more.
“We hope to work with you to ensure that students who seek higher education and go on to serve their country are not harmed—either maliciously or through negligence—by the poor implementation of the PSLF program,” they wrote. “Without swift action, millions of dedicated teachers, first responders, service members and other public servants will face substantial harm due to preventable failures on the part of the Department and student loan servicers.”
Publication Date: 10/19/2018
David S | 10/19/2018 2:32:16 PM
I'm sure that many of the rejected PSLF applications can be explained; the borrower only had FFEL, Perkins or private loans that don't qualify, they applied prematurely, their employment doesn't meet requirements, etc. So if they can be explained, ED, please explain them. If there are entities not doing their jobs correctly, not serving student borrowers as well as they should, anywhere along the continuum (schools, servicers, the Department), let's identify where the gaps are so that we can make sure that borrowers get the assistance they need.
I hear questions from students all the time worried that they'll borrow and establish careers counting on PSLF being there for them, only to have it taken away. Headlines that fewer than 100 qualified out of nearly 30,000 applications lack the nuance that would fully explain the problem, but there's no doubt in my mind that this will discourage borrowers...who knows how many won't borrow, won't enroll, or won't pursue their passion out of fear that PSLF is being killed off. This is on the entire financial aid community, we need to do better.
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