AG Shapiro to Education Secretary DeVos: Deliver on Promise to America’s Public Servants

August 28, 2019 | Topic: Consumers

Department of Education says only 864 of 76,002 Public Service Loan Forgiveness applications have been approved

HARRISBURG—Attorney General Josh Shapiro and 11 other attorneys general sent a letter today to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos urging once again that the U.S. Department of Education provide data to help states address the ongoing problems with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The PSLF program was created in 2007 to help student loan borrowers who give back to their country or community by working in a public service field, but on DeVos’s watch, only about 1% of applicants have been approved for forgiveness. The attorneys general are demanding access to this data in order to identify problems with the program and learn how to best assisted borrowers.

This is the attorneys general’s second time requesting this information. In October 2018, Attorney General Shapiro and a multistate coalition issued a letter to the Department of Education expressing concerns about implementation of PSLF and requested data from the Department. At that time, the attorneys general requested that the Department provide information about the program and its plans to reform to program. In response, the Department shared incomplete information in July 2019 that was not fully responsive to the states’ request and contained no information that was not already publicly available. In today’s letter, the coalition raises alarms about the ongoing issues with the PSLF program, noting that borrowers may be forced abandon their public service careers just to be able to repay their student loans.

“Hundreds of thousands of Americans pursued careers in public service based on a promise that the government would forgive their loans after they fulfilled the requirements of the program,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “These are our teachers, our firefighters, and our police officers. They committed themselves to the betterment of our communities for at least ten years, and yet the federal government is not following through on its commitment to them. I’m proud to stand with my colleague attorney generals in demanding that Secretary DeVos fulfill the promise that was made to America’s public servants and provide the data necessary for states to understand how to best assist borrowers in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.”

In the letter, the coalition reiterated that data from the Department would help states address the ongoing problems with PSLF, but the publicly-available data that Secretary DeVos provided to the states falls far short of a full accounting of the current situation for borrowers who are relying on PSLF. Data provided by the U.S. Department of Education indicates that only 864 of 76,002 applications for PSLF have been approved and only 442 of 12,429 applications to the Temporary Expanded PSLF program have been approved. The remaining tens of thousands of borrowers have been denied. Therefore, the coalition has requested better data from the U.S. Department of Education in order to examine the scope and source of the problems to assist these borrowers.

The coalition sending the letter includes the attorneys general of California, Illinois, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

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