By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Staff Reporter
Nearly two dozen attorneys general have submitted written comments to the Department of Education (ED) urging the agency to take “drastic” action to ensure that public servants have access to the promise of loan forgiveness.
The letter, written in response to ED’s solicitation of comments for information on Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program administration, praised the agency’s commitment to addressing barriers for borrowers and seeks to highlight how federally promised benefits have remained elusive to eligible beneficiaries.
Due to the program's high denial rate a number of borrowers have found themselves worse off financially as they pursue a career in public service.
“The inaccessibility of the PSLF/TEPSLF program compromises our states’ ability to recruit and retain our workforces,” the state officials wrote. “Without loan forgiveness, many individuals cannot repay their significant student loan debt while caring for themselves and their families on public service salaries. The inaccessibility of PSLF/TEPSLF is particularly harmful given that many states are already experiencing severe shortages in critical public service fields, such as education and medicine.”
According to the attorneys general these borrowers are struggling to navigate the system and argue that the current framework is so broken that not even the loan servicer paid to administer the program can ensure that borrowers who should get forgiveness actually do.
In order to remedy these issues the signatories are urging ED to administer debt cancellation for borrowers that have met the 10 years of public service requirement, improve its oversight of loan servicers, and further extend the federal student loan moratorium past its current expiration at the start of 2022.
As ED embarks on its most recent negotiated rulemaking process, which includes PSLF as a topic, the state officials said they were, “encouraged by the Department’s commitment to putting much-needed student debt relief within reach for the millions of public servants in our states and across the country.”
NASFAA has also submitted its own letter urging ED to use its authority to broaden the program and also identified several areas of the process that are most difficult to navigate.
Publication Date: 9/28/2021
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