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Public servants confused about the future of loan forgiveness they’ve been counting on

Source Date: 
Friday, April 7, 2017

For years, student loan borrower advocates and concerned borrowers themselves have sounded the alarm over the future of a government program offering student loan forgiveness for public servants.

Now, just months before the initiative’s first major test, lawmakers are finally paying attention. On Thursday, a group of Senate Democrats, including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos asking the Department to provide more guidance and transparency surrounding the program, known as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). But the heightened awareness of the challenges borrowers face ensuring they qualify PSLF may be also unintentionally deterring borrowers who could likely reap its benefits from enrolling in it, advocates of the program say.

It was the latest development in an ongoing lawsuit over the program, and subsequent reporting on it, that first piqued the attention of lawmakers and the general public last week. In the suit, filed by the American Bar Association, the Department of Education defended a decision to override a ruling made by the company it hires to manage PSLF to tell certain lawyers they would be eligible for the program. The result: attorneys who had been working for years for relatively low pay defending veterans, immigrants and others under the assumption the remainder of their loans would be discharged after 10 years of payments learned that suddenly wasn’t the case.

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