Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited Stony Brook University, standing with Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis, and Rukhsar Asfe to call on Senate leadership to include provisions from the What You Can Do For Your Country Act in COVID-19 relief legislation. The bill would address issues in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to keep public servants out of debt.
In 2007, Congress established the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to help more students choose careers in public service. That program allows eligible Direct Loan borrowers to have their loans forgiven after 10 years of working full-time for federal, state, local, or tribal governments, or for certain nonprofit organizations. Due to mismanagement at the Department of Education, less than one percent of eligible public servants who have applied for loan forgiveness have received it.
“Students who are studying to be nurses, respiratory care providers, and other frontline health workers are doing so at a critical time. But as they prepare to enter public service, there is no guarantee that student loans won’t hang over their heads for the rest of their lives, despite the promise made in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. This is not right. We must make good on the promise of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program for current and future public servants, especially as they work to keep our communities safe from COVID-19,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I will keep fighting to make sure they get the relief and support they need. This program needs to work for the people who have given so much back to their communities.”
“I sincerely appreciate Senator Gillibrand’s leadership and unwavering support for students across New York and our nation,” said President Maurie McInnis. “The Senator is a long-standing champion of public higher education, fighting tirelessly for every student to have access to an affordable first rate education, and for those who graduate with loans to fully avail themselves of programs like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.”
“As a student pursuing my degree in social work, having the extra stress of student loan debt takes away from my ability to give my all to my community. Strict standards and a lack of guidance are what prevented me from utilizing PSLF previously. With these proposed changes, the PSLF can live up to its promise and help more people like myself pursue public service careers with confidence and less fear about crushing student loan debt,” said Rukhsar Asfe.
Gillibrand’s What You Can Do For Your Country Act includes three key provisions: it would close donut holes and fix technical errors in the current PSLF program by ensuring that all types of federal loans and federal repayment plans would qualify, require clearer information and better guidance to borrowers, and simplify the application process so that all eligible borrowers are able to work towards and receive the loan forgiveness they have earned.