More than 100 lawmakers urge Biden administration to expand civil service loan forgiveness waivers

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A group of more than 100 Democratic lawmakers from both houses of Congress have renewed their efforts to persuade the Biden administration to extend a series of temporary waivers aimed at making it easier to use the civil service loan forgiveness program until that permanent reforms can be implemented next year.

The popular, but frustrating, program that offers college graduates the chance to have their student loan forgiven on the condition that they spend 10 years working for the government or an eligible nonprofit and make loan repayments throughout this period. Participants said that strict rules governing loan repayments and inconsistent information from both the Ministry of Education, contractors running the program and lenders made it difficult to obtain a pardon until has recently.

Last October, the Ministry of Education issued a series of waivers and other temporary changes to the program to make it easier for borrowers to qualify, including giving participants the option to consolidate their loans into the right direct lending program. , granting waivers for payments that were calculated incorrectly or were slightly late, as well as offering to review previously denied claims. And in July, the department proposed new regulations that would make many of these temporary fixes permanent.

But the current temporary waivers have an expiration date of October 31, which means that without further action from the administration, there could be an eight-month window where the old system will return, which could have a negative impact. on some borrowers.

In a letter Monday to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, more than 100 lawmakers, led by Sen. Bob Menendez, DN.J., in the Senate and Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., in the House, said reiterated their call, first made in August, for the ministry to extend the current waivers until the new regulations are implemented next July.

“As you know, the limited PSLF waiver, announced last October, has significantly improved the lives of more than 189,000 public servants who have had their student loans canceled through the program and the 1 million who have received an average additional year de Crédit PSLF,” they wrote. “In view of the upcoming PSLF waiver deadline of October 31, 2022, we are writing to reiterate our request to the Ministry of Education to extend its deadline until July 1, 2023, when the new PSLF regulations will come into effect. in effect, to ensure that all public servants with federal student loans can benefit from this historic waiver.

According to data from the Ministry of Education, as of July 31, 91% of borrowers who had their loans canceled through the program alone were able to do so through temporary waivers. But lawmakers noted that there are many program participants who have yet to take advantage of the waiver provisions to advance their progress toward loan forgiveness.

“According to estimates by the Student Borrower Protection Center, only 15% of the 9 million public service workers with student loan debt have filed paperwork to track their eligible PSLF payments,” they wrote. “As more than 20 state attorneys general have pointed out, ‘given the critical benefits provided by the limited PSLF waiver and the fact that the fundamental problems of the PSLF program will return immediately (likely in exacerbated form) at the end of the waiver, we have serious concerns about plans to end the waiver…before the Department’s new PSLF regulations come into effect.

And extending the waiver could have a unique impact on federal employees and military service members who rely on the program for their future financial security, they argued.

“While the department has announced that it is currently working to ensure that all federal departments and agencies automatically extend PSLF credit to members of the military and federal employees, this program is not yet available. in place,” the lawmakers wrote. “Military and federal data matches are essential to ensure the department can identify PSLF-eligible borrowers and provide them with automatic relief.”

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