Since taking office, the Biden administration has set to work to address some of the issues facing student borrowers. The administration recently canceled $ 10 billion in student debt for borrowers, including $ 2.6 billion for borrowers defrauded by for-profit schools and $ 1.3 billion for certain disabled borrowers. The administration also retroactively waived interest on student loan payments for service members, without forcing them to go through bureaucratic hurdles to secure that benefit. These are significant and essential solutions for borrowers affected by these problems. However, there are millions more who have not received relief and are still struggling to pay off their student loans.
Another necessary and urgent solution that the Biden administration must address is the overhaul of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). The PSLF was created so that people working in the public service could have their loans canceled after 10 years of service to their community and to our country. But the program has gone badly wrong, millions of people – 98% of the applicants – have denied the relief they were promised.
Horror stories abound of teachers, nurses, nonprofit workers and government workers who have planned their lives around this promised relief and then been denied a loan forgiveness. Many of them were not informed by their loan officers that they had to take certain actions from the start of their participation in the program, so years of payment did not count towards the cancellation of the loan. . Millions more have been illegally exonerated by their student loan companies or misled by the Department of Education. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program was created to help working families. And fixing it is a problem of the working class.
People entering fields such as the civil service, public school systems, nonprofit hospitals, and other organizations did not do so because they believed it would be lucrative. According to estimates from the Department of Education, nearly two-thirds of borrowers who resort to forgiveness of civil service loans earn less than $ 50,000 per year, and 86% earn less than $ 75,000 per year. These workers probably entered these fields because they care about their communities, and the promise of a loan remission for their service has made these careers more financially viable. The PSLF’s devastating record has disappointed the working class. To solve this problem, the largest unions, representing more than 10 million workers, have come together and demanded that the Biden administration fix the PSLF program and keep its promise to working families earlier this year.
Now is the time to do it. Millions of people across the United States will be deported when the moratorium on deportations ends. Thousands of people had to flee their homes due to some form of climate disaster last year. Job growth stagnated last month, with the Department of Labor reporting that the United States added a meager 235,000 jobs in August. And, just in time for the last Labor Day, nearly 11 million people lost some or all of their unemployment benefits amid a pandemic, forcing them back into a deadly low-wage workforce. or in abject poverty. Moreover, amid these economic, climate and public health crises, 45 million people will have to pay their crushing student loan balances again in February 2022, when what Education Secretary Cardona called “the last.” student loan payment break extension ends.
In recent good news, for the first time ever, the Department of Education is asking those who depend on the program to share their stories to help decide what’s next. Now, before the payment hiatus ends, it is time to raise the voice of borrowers and sound the alarm bells about the failings of public service workers’ debt relief. So far, the Ministry of Education has received over 35,000 comments from the public. Organizations across the county have also responded to the call to push the Education Department to fix the PSLF.
The Biden administration has the opportunity to fix the broken PSLF system, and the president must do it for the working class. In his Labor Day speech, President BidenJoe BidenOvernight Defense & National Security – Milley Becomes Lightning Rod Democrats Hope Biden Can Overthrow Manchin and Sinema On The Money – Presented by Wells Fargo – Democrats move tax plan forward through obstacles MORE clearly stated, “Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity,” and it is high time that he gave that dignity to our public service employees who are struggling to make ends meet.
Amy Czulada is the Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator at the Student Borrower Protection Center. Follow the organization on Twitter at @theSBPC.