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(Washington DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) co-sponsored legislation to make higher education more affordable for those who choose careers in public service. The Strengthening Loan Forgiveness for Public Servants Act expands the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLFP) to providing meaningful student debt relief to teachers, police officers, public health workers and others who dedicate their careers to public service.

“While our tradition of public service is ingrained in the Granite State, student debt is all too real for New Hampshire students, who have the highest student debt burden in the country,” said Senator Shaheen. “We should be rewarding people who serve the public, not saddling our public servants with student debt. This legislation would be a valuable tool to incentivize individuals to join public service, and reward our public servants for their hard work to strengthen our state and our nation.”

“New Hampshire does democracy better than anyplace else because of our vibrant civic society comprised of dedicated public servants, and it is critical that we work to encourage the next generation of leaders,” said Senator Hassan. “The Strengthening Loan Forgiveness for Public Servants Act is a common-sense step to relieve the burden of student loan debt and support our dedicated teachers, health care workers, public safety officials, and all public servants who sacrifice to make our state and our nation stronger.”

The PSLF program provides an important incentive for graduates to enter public service occupations by offering relief from student loan debt. Currently, the PSLF program is structured as an all-or-nothing deal; unless you complete ten years of public service, you cannot receive any relief from your student loan debt. For PSLFP participants whose loans continued to accrue interest over those years, losing a public service job could feel like being forced to start repayment efforts from scratch.

The Strengthening Loan Forgiveness for Public Servants Act would let new PSLFP participants have their eligible Direct Loans deferred while they work in public service and receive loan forgiveness in proportion to their years of public service. After every two years, they would have a percentage of their eligible balance cancelled, with increasing levels of forgiveness given in succeeding years.