Sarbanes Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Expand Access to Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Bill Will Help Teachers, Service Members, Social Workers, and other Public Servants Receive the Loan Forgiveness They Have Earned
November 15, 2017
CONTACT: Daniel Jacobs
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today joined Congressmen Brendan Boyle (D-Penn.), Ryan Costello (R-Penn.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) to introduce the PSLF Technical Corrections Act of 2017, a bipartisan bill that will help public servants – including teachers, social workers, public defenders, community health care workers and our nation’s service members – receive the loan forgiveness benefits they have earned.

The bill will improve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) by allowing participants mistakenly enrolled on the wrong repayment plan qualify for PSLF if their monthly payments were higher than what they would have paid under a qualifying, income-driven repayment plan. This small change would relieve a significant financial burden for our nation’s public servants, whose nonprofit jobs – while rewarding and tremendously beneficial to their communities – are often not particularly lucrative.

“This improvement to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program will ensure that more community health care workers, teachers, public defenders, social workers and other public servants receive the loan forgiveness benefits they have earned,” said Congressman Sarbanes, the author of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.  “I was proud to lead the effort in the House of Representatives to create this program, and with this bill today, we’re making a concerted effort to continue investing in public servants who dedicate their careers to strengthening our communities.”

Congress established the bipartisan PSLF program in 2007 to help teachers, social workers, military personnel, and other public servants pursue sometimes lower-paying careers serving their communities without facing decades of crippling loan payments. The program allows borrowers to erase the balance of their student debt after making 120 qualifying loan payments while working for a nonprofit or government employer for 10 years. Due to complex program requirements, some borrowers believe they are making qualifying payments under the program, only to find out that in fact they are not, as recently profiled in The New York Times.

“I’m proud to introduce this legislation, and committed to doing all I can to help alleviate the burden of student loan debt for folks who worked hard and thought they were playing by all the rules,” said Congressman Boyle, co-chair of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Caucus, which is fighting to protect and spread awareness about the program. “Public Service Loan Forgiveness is an investment in our communities and a commitment to those who choose these demanding careers in the face of financial insecurity. Rather than let good actors slip through the cracks, we’re fighting to provide relief to all those who fulfill the spirit of the program despite paperwork errors or bureaucratic complications. Public Service Loan Forgiveness is an incentive to our students and an investment in our future, and we must ensure that it benefits as many hardworking public servants as possible.”

“This legislation will provide a very helpful change to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program that will make sure public service professionals, such as first responders and teachers, who are working to make a difference in their communities receive the student loan forgiveness they have worked toward,” said Congressman Costello, co-chair of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Caucus. “If borrowers are making qualifying payments for PSLF standards but mistakenly enrolled in higher repayment plans, they must be allowed to apply those payments towards loan forgiveness under PSLF. Our legislation will ensure this happens.”

“The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program incentivizes recent graduates to fill critical public service jobs such as teachers, soldiers, nurses and first-responders. The PSLF Technical Corrections Act rectifies a technical glitch causing these public servants to be burdened with excessive loan payments. This legislation will fulfill the promise made to these public servants, and I’m proud to advance this measure on their behalf,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick.

The legislation has been endorsed by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. Senators Tim Kaine (VA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) concurrently introduced the Senate version of the bill.