Biden expands eligibility for student loan forgiveness
As part of an effort to expand student debt relief, the U.S. Department of Education is easing regulations under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Previously, borrowers had to work in an eligible position, make 120 on-time payments, have a qualifying loan and repayment plan, and work in public service for 10 years to receive loan forgiveness. The new rule expands the eligibility of qualifying loan and repayment types. It also counts military service toward the 10 years of public service even if borrowers paused their loan payments during that time. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the change would immediately make 22,000 borrowers eligible for student loan forgiveness, with the possibility of 27,000 more joining if they certify previous payments. In all, the update moves 550,000 Americans closer to complete loan forgiveness, according to the department.
Was something wrong with the program before? The PSLF was launched in 2007 to encourage students to enter public service. Since that time, more than 90 percent of applicants have been rejected because they had private loans or loans under a defunct program, or because they enrolled in a repayment program that the PSLF does not count. On Wednesday, Cardona said only 16,000 people have had student debt erased under PSLF since 2007. The new changes will only last through October 2022, though, while the administration considers a larger overhaul of the loan forgiveness system. Although both Republicans and Democrats have called the system deeply flawed, Republicans criticized the Education Department for using executive action to address loan forgiveness problems instead of working with Congress to legislate a solution.
Dig deeper: Listen to Esther Eaton report on the Biden administration’s push to cancel student debt on The World and Everything in It podcast.
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