Public Student Loan Forgiveness is a Quagmire

November 19, 2018

I read the following scary tidbit from CNBC:

Just 96 people across the country have been released from their debt, thanks to public service loan forgiveness. Last year was the first year of eligiblity, since the program was signed into law in 2007 and it requires at least 10 years of payments to qualify. Nearly 30,000 borrowers have applied for the forgiveness, according to the Education Department’s data.

Reading this article it appears that many borrowers were not aware of nor able to follow all the rules, but thought they did. I had hoped to participate in this program but my political employment did not qualify and while I do not make as much as my peers in private industry, my government salary does not qualify me for a significantly lower income based repayment. In fact the CFPB illustrates the value of the income based repayment in a report:

Recent projections made by the Department of Education indicate that this effect is even more pronounced when comparing a public service borrower, absent PSLF, to a typical borrower enrolled in REPAYE.56 The Department of Education estimated that, in general, borrowers who earn less than $70,000 per year and owe more than $25,000 in student debt would repay approximately 107 percent of their initial principal balance over the lifetime of their loans.

The fact so few people have qualified for forgiveness under this program is a political quagmire, and it should be fixed. Building and advertising a program people rely on but making it hard to qualify does not improve people’s trust in government.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.