The average public university student borrows $30,030 to attain a bachelor’s degree, and as education prices and cost of living continue to rise, many spend decades struggling to pay off these loans. The US Department of Education has announced student loan forgiveness eligibility for certain borrowers and this week, expanded the eligibility to include public sector workers and members of the military.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program is not new, but it has long been criticized for being highly selective about applicants and difficult to navigate. Under the current program, eligible public sector workers can have the remainder of their federal loans forgiven after 10 years of monthly payments, but many report difficulty communicating with loan servicers and limited conditions for eligibility.
Under the new overhaul of the program, loan forgiveness will not only be available to a wider range of public sector workers, but limited time waivers will also be available, authorizing all previous payments to count towards the program’s 10-year requirement. The waiver will remain active until October 31, 2022.
According to the US Department of Education, the new policies will apply to more than 550,000 borrowers in government and nonprofit sectors, including teachers, nurses, and servicemembers. Of those, 22,000 borrowers will automatically qualify for student loan forgiveness without having to take additional eligibility steps.
The Department of Education also plans to launch an awareness campaign to make borrowers aware of their eligibility and the simplified application process. In a statement, the department said, “These actions will help identify and address servicing errors or other issues that have prevented borrowers from getting the PSLF credit they deserve.” The department also emphasized that these new policies will be particularly beneficial for many of the public sector workers who have been on the frontlines of pandemic management for the last year and a half.