WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), joined Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and sixteen of their Senate colleagues in a letter calling on Senate leadership to include fixes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program in the next COVID-19 relief package.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the work of our nurses, health care providers, teachers, first responders and countless other public sector workers more important than ever before,” wrote the Senators. “For many of these essential workers, who are disproportionately people of color, the combination of extreme job insecurity, dangerous working conditions caused by the pandemic, and unmanageable student debt has been devastating. This crisis has shined a bright light on the need for immediate action to ensure that we are giving our essential workers the support and forgiveness they have rightly earned.”

“It is long past time that Congress honor its commitment to workers who have dedicated their careers in service to their communities. We must include provisions to assist these borrowers in order to recover from the pandemic and its economic devastation,” the Senators’ letter concludes.

The full text of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer,

As the country continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we write today to request that you provide critical support to our nation’s frontline workers and public servants in the COVID-19 relief legislation you are negotiating by closing donut holes in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program with components from the What You Can Do For Your Country Act (S. 1203). These provisions will ensure that individuals who have dedicated their careers to public service and who are working in the trenches to support their communities in fighting the virus receive the student loan forgiveness they have earned.

PSLF was created by Congress in 2007 to incentivize more students to enter public service by providing loan forgiveness after 10 years of working full-time for a federal, state, local, or tribal government organization or certain nonprofit organizations. Unfortunately, flawed implementation of the PSLF program by the U.S. Department of Education and eligibility “donut holes” have resulted in 99 percent of all public servants who have applied for forgiveness being denied relief. As a result, tens of thousands of nurses, first responders, teachers, social workers, members of the military, and countless other professions engaged in service to their communities, have been denied relief or dissuaded from seeking it. With borrowers drowning in a growing pool of $1.5 trillion of federal student loan debt, these problems are adding unnecessary pain and burden to individuals who are working around the clock to support their communities during this unprecedented public health crisis.

We must do more to address the crushing burden of student loan debt for our frontline workers and other public servants. The What You Can Do For Your Country Act would close donut holes and fix technical errors in the current PSLF 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. While Congress created the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) program in 2018 to help some borrowers in the wrong repayment plans that have been excluded from relief, this program has also been poorly implemented and has an extremely high denial rate. More comprehensive fixes to PSLF are urgently needed.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the work of our nurses, health care providers, teachers, first responders and countless other public sector workers more important than ever before. For many of these essential workers, who are disproportionately people of color, the combination of extreme job insecurity, dangerous working conditions caused by the pandemic, and unmanageable student debt has been devastating. This crisis has shined a bright light on the need for immediate action to ensure that we are giving our essential workers the support and forgiveness they have rightly earned.

It is long past time that Congress honor its commitment to workers who have dedicated their careers in service to their communities. We must include provisions to assist these borrowers in order to recover from the pandemic and its economic devastation. Thank you for your consideration of this important request.

Sincerely,

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