Sarbanes Statement on the Department of Education’s Failure to Follow Through on Student Loan Debt Relief for America’s Public Servants

September 5, 2019
CONTACT: Daniel Jacobs
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) issued the following statement today after a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that the Trump Education Department, under the leadership of Secretary Betsy DeVos, has denied 99 percent of Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) applicants from receiving student debt relief:

“This outrageous failure – in a long string of failures – by Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education to effectively implement the bipartisan PSLF program is a deep insult to the teachers, community health care workers, military members, public defenders, social workers and other public servants who rely on this important program.

“Last year, Congress took an important step to provide the Education Department with additional resources to expand access to the PSLF program and extend some relief to America’s public servants. But instead of following and fully executing the law – as the Constitution requires – the Education Department chose to find new ways to undermine the program and lock out public servants from receiving the loan forgiveness they were promised.

“I remain committed to holding Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education accountable for their failure to fully implement the PSLF program and will work closely with my colleagues, including Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott, to apply continued pressure on the Trump Administration and make sure that it delivers the student loan debt relief that our nation’s public servants have earned.”

Congressman Sarbanes, the original author of PSLF, has worked tirelessly to reform and improve the program. Over the last several years, he has pushed Congress to expand the PSLF program and he has fought back against attempts by Secretary DeVos and the Trump Education Department to undermine the program.

In May, Congressman Sarbanes led the introduction of the What You Can Do for Your Country Act, a bill to strengthen the PSLF program and  correct PSLF implementation failures at the Trump Education Department by increasing 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.