In 2007, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program was a program created to relieve the debt burden placed upon students who qualified with either a government or nonprofit public service job and also made payments diligently for ten years. After this ten-year period, the remaining balance of the student’s loans would be forgiven. 2017 will be the end of the line for the first wave of graduated students who enrolled in the PSLF—or, at least that is what everyone is hoping.
It would seem that the sigh of relief many were hoping for is going to be clouded by an impending hearing scheduled for October 6th. The hearing will address a lawsuit brought against the Department of Education for retroactively disqualifying four attorneys last year from the PSLF who had graduated with six-figure debts and were working as public service attorneys for nonprofits.
According to Forbes, these attorneys worked for qualifying organizations, such as the American Bar Association, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and Vietnam Veterans of America, but were then suddenly deemed unqualified as we approached the eve of forgiveness.
Naturally, this precedent has many worried. As stated by Natalia Abrams, who is the executive director of the Student Debt Crisis, “this means you could be accepted into the program and make payments for 8 years or more, only to find that you don’t qualify.” The Department of Education motioned to dismiss the case brought against them last month, which has made many think, including the other 550,000 million people enrolled in the PSLF, that they may be left high and dry with their debt.
Many people have made payments dutifully and were hoping to take the next step in their life. A growing sense of fear and betrayal is rising amongst these borrowers. Texas parole officer Brian Jones, who, according to Forbes, has roughly $30,000 in debt stated that “I was really depending on that to move on with my life and I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Abrams has recommended that anyone who is enrolled in the PSLF to keep detailed records, presumably in case it turns for the worst. Although the Trump administration has revealed its plans to do away with the PSLF, they made it clear that this decision will only affect new borrowers starting on and after July 1, 2018.
As mentioned previously, the PSLF was introduced in 2007. This was during the Bush administration, which is why Abrams is cautioning that the current administration should not make this into a partisan issue.
With emotions running high, many are wary to trust the Department of Education. Even though the agency continues to promote the program on their blog, their latest actions have withered away much of their credibility. In the coming weeks, we can only hope that the agency will have no choice but to live up to the promises that were made to thousands of borrowers who followed the guidelines for forgiveness earnestly.
To read the original report by Forbes, follow the link here.