Student-loan borrowers in public service have less than one month to use a 'historic waiver' that will bring them closer to debt relief, 102 Democratic lawmakers say — and they want Biden to extend that debt relief through July
- The PSLF waiver for public servants with student debt is expiring on October 31.
- A group of Democratic lawmakers called on Biden to extend the waiver through July 2023.
Government and nonprofit workers have until the end of October to make use of expanded benefits that would bring them closer to student-loan forgiveness — and a group of Democrats aren't thrilled with that deadline.
On Monday, Sens. Bob Menendez, Tim Kaine, Kirsten Gillibrand, Chris Van Hollen, and Reps. John Sarbanes, Jahana Hayes, and Joe Courtney, led 95 of their Democratic colleagues in calling on Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to extend the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) waiver through July 2023. PSLF is intended to forgive student debt for public servants after ten years of qualifying payments, and last October, the Education Department announced reforms to the program — including a temporary waiver through October 31, 2022 to allow past payments to count toward forgiveness progress, including those previously deemed ineligible.
The Democratic lawmakers wrote that those borrowers should have more time to access that expanded relief, in a letter first viewed by Insider.
"As you are aware, the limited PSLF waiver, announced last October, has significantly improved the lives of the more than 189,000 public servants who have had their student loans forgiven though the program and the one million who have received an average of one additional year of PSLF credit," the lawmakers wrote.
"Given the upcoming October 31, 2022 limited PSLF waiver deadline, we write to reiterate our request that the Department of Education extend its deadline until July 1, 2023—when the Department's new PSLF regulations will take effect—in order to ensure that all public servants with federal student loans are able to benefit from this historic waiver," they added.
The push to extend the waiver is supported by 35 advocacy groups as well, including the American Federation of Teachers and the NAACP.
The Democrats cited data from advocacy group Student Borrower Protection Center that estimated "only a fraction" — or just 15% of the 9 million public servants with student debt — had filed paperwork to track their PSLF progress. They also said that "operationalizing and explaining the waiver" has been a challenge for the department, warranting more time for borrowers to receive expanded relief.
The Education Department released data in August showing that the waiver alone has brought 175,000 borrowers $10 billion in relief so far, but despite the repeated calls from Democrats, advocates, and attorneys general, the department has maintained the October 31 deadline for the waiver and has not publicly commented on requests to extend it.
—U.S. Department of Education (@usedgov) September 29, 2022
Meanwhile, the department is in the process of implementing President Joe Biden's announcement of up to $20,000 in student-loan forgiveness for federal borrowers making under $125,000 a year. An application for that relief is expected to become live early October, and borrowers will be able to get debt cancellation through that form until December 2023 — just over a year after the PSLF waiver is set to expire.
"It is of the utmost importance that the PSLF Program function to alleviate the financial strain associated with student debt and support these critical sectors as our nation continues its recovery," 20 state attorneys general said in August. "We believe this can only be accomplished through expansion and extension of the waiver."
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