Sarbanes, DeSaulnier Launch House Effort to Relieve Student Loan Debt for Public Servants

The What You Can Do for Your Country Act Will Help Improve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and Ensure That Qualified Candidates Receive the Debt Relief They Deserve
May 1, 2019
CONTACT: Daniel Jacobs
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) and Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.) today led the introduction of the What You Can Do for Your Country Act, a bill to strengthen the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program, which allows America’s public servants to qualify for student loan debt relief after working full-time for 10 years at certain nonprofit organizations or for local, state or federal government.

Implementation failures at the U.S. Department of Education resulted in only one percent of eligible applicants able to obtain loan forgiveness. The What You Can Do for Your Country Act would correct these issues by expanding the types of federal loans and repayment plans that qualify for the program, simplifying the PSLF application process, streamlining the program’s certification process and providing better information to participants about their status in the program. These reforms would create a clear path to student loan forgiveness for those who make a significant impact in their communities and for those who serve their country.

“This bill will help ensure that America’s teachers, public defenders, social workers, service members and community health care workers receive the student loan forgiveness they deserve,” said Congressman Sarbanes, the original author of the PSLF program and a tireless champion of efforts to reform and improve the program. “These hardworking and incredibly committed individuals make tremendous contributions to our communities – for far less compensation than their private-sector counterparts. We must provide these public servants with the student loan debt relief that they have earned.”

“The PSLF program started as a simple promise to dedicated public servants, but the Department of Education has made it almost impossible to deliver on that promise,” said Congressman DeSaulnier. “This bill will help make whole borrowers who were cheated by layers of bureaucratic incompetence and implement lessons learned for future borrowers. Our nation’s hard-working public employees fight the stigma of bureaucracy every day – they should not be victims of it.”

The bill is endorsed by several leading organizations, including the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), National Association for College Admission Counseling, National Legal Aid & Defender Organization, National Association of Social Workers, Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions, Student Debt Crisis, Young Invincibles, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Equal Justice Works, California Association of Nonprofits, Legal Aid at Work, Association of Young Americans, Council on Social Work Education, Council of Administrators of Special Education, Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, Civil Service Bar Association, American Psychological Association, National Legal Aid and Defender Association, National Association of Secondary School Principals, AccessLex, National Association for College Admission Counseling, National Labor Relations Board Union and Service Year Alliance.

The Senate companion of the What You Can Do For Your Country Act was led by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

For a section-by-section of the bill, see here.

For a fact sheet, see here.