By Julie Margetta Morgan, Senior Advisor and Acting Under Secretary, Office of the Under Secretary
Congress created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program in 2007 to give back to the millions of nurses, police officers, firefighters, public defenders, and other Americans working in public service. Since then, federal student loan borrowers have planned their careers and lives around this program, trusting that if they work in public service for a decade while repaying their student loans, they would see the remainder of their debt forgiven.
Unfortunately, for too many public service workers, the program has not functioned the way they hoped it would. Fixing the PSLF Program has been a priority for the Biden-Harris Administration since day one. While we have identified many opportunities for improvement by talking to experts and borrowers and reviewing our procedures, we want to hear from you as well. That’s why, today, we are issuing a Request for Information about PSLF.
In the last year alone, we took steps to help borrowers pursuing PSLF, including by creating a single application that certifies employment, counts payments, and allows borrowers to check on their status toward forgiveness under PSLF and Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF). Last year, the Department changed its previous policy and now counts lump-sum payments and prepayments as qualifying payments for the purposes of loan forgiveness through the PSLF Program. We also launched a new PSLF Help Tool to make it easier for borrowers to determine their eligibility, and we continue to make improvements.
But we have more work to do if we want the PSLF Program to live up to its promise. We are asking you to help us identify and resolve challenges with the PSLF Program by answering questions, including the following:
- What features of PSLF are most difficult for borrowers to navigate?
- What barriers prevent public service workers with student debt from pursuing PSLF or receiving loan forgiveness under PSLF?
- For borrowers who have or had loans other than from the Direct Loan) program, what have your experiences been when trying to access or participate in PSLF?
We want to hear from the people who rely on this program about what is working and, more importantly, what isn’t working. We want to hear from experts across the nation about the challenges public service workers face and their ideas about how the PSLF Program can work better. Most importantly, we want to hear how we can fulfill the promise of this program to ensure that student debt does not prevent individuals from pursuing or staying in public service professions.
We want to hear your PSLF story so we can better understand the problems that need to be fixed. We must do better, and we can with your help.
In addition to issuing this request for information, last month we held public hearings about the Department’s regulatory priorities, one of which is PSLF. As we look forward to improving aspects of these regulations, we encourage experts and borrowers to also engage through that separate process with their experiences and expertise.