WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), alongside U.S. Representatives John Sarbanes (D-Md.-03), Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.-05), and Joe Courtney (D-Conn.-02), Monday led a bicameral group of nearly 100 colleagues in urging U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to extend the limited Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) waiver deadline until July 1, 2023 – when the Department of Education’s new PSLF regulations are set to take effect, in order to ensure all public servants with federal student loans can benefit from this historic waiver.
Since the Department announced the limited PSLF waiver last October, more than 189,000 public servants have had their student loans forgiven through the program and one million have received an average of one additional year of PSLF credit.
“To date, the waiver has been overwhelmingly successful in reducing barriers for borrowers to receive PSLF relief, as the waiver accounts for almost all (91%) of the borrowers who have received forgiveness through the PSLF program through July 31, 2022,” wrote the lawmakers to Secretary Cardona. “The limited waiver [has] also [been] a lifeline for Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) borrowers who—for the first time—have seen their payments acknowledged in the PSLF program.”
Despite how many public servants have already benefited from the limited waiver, the lawmakers highlighted that these borrowers represent only a fraction of the public servants who are eligible for PSLF. According to the Student Borrower Protection Center’s estimates, only 15% of the 9 million public service workers with student debt have filed paperwork to track their qualifying payments under PSLF.
The lawmakers also echoed the more than 20 state attorneys general who warned that fundamental programmatic problems with the PSLF program will immediately return – likely in a more exacerbated manner – if the waiver ends before the Department of Education implements its new PSLF regulations.
“Extending the PSLF waiver will also allow more military service members and federal employees to make progress towards loan forgiveness through PSLF. Though the Department has announced that it is currently working to ensure that all federal agencies and departments automatically provide credit for PSLF for members of the military and federal employees, this program is not yet in place,” the lawmakers said. “Military and federal data matches are critical to ensuring that the Department can identify which borrowers are eligible for PSLF and provide them automatic relief.”
Sen. Menendez and many of his colleagues have long called on the Department of Education to make comprehensive fixes to the PSLF program, which has faced scrutiny for several implementation challenges since its inception in 2007, with only 1 to 2 percent of PSLF applicants being approved each year prior to the Biden Administration proposing a sweeping overhaul of the PSLF program. Today’s effort comes more than a month after Sen. Menendez and several of his colleagues led a group of more than 100 lawmakers in calling on the Biden Administration to extend the PSLF waiver deadline.