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Shaheen Joins Over 100 Senate & House Lawmakers in Calling on Biden Administration to Extend PSLF Waiver Deadline

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen joined a group of lawmakers from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in urging U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to extend the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) waiver deadline until at least July 1, 2023, when the Department’s proposed rules to improve and expand federal student debt relief programs, including PSLF, are currently on track to take effect. Extending the waiver would help ensure more public servants are able to benefit from the historic waiver that has already resulted in over $9 billion in forgiveness for more than 146,000 public servants and more than 1 million borrowers receiving, on average, one additional year of credit toward PSLF. The extension would also help the agency minimize confusion among borrowers while it conducts a one-time account adjustment later this year and finalizes its proposed PSLF rule. 

The letter was led by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

“The PSLF waiver announced by the Department last October was designed to ‘overhaul’ the PSLF program and ‘make it live up to its promise’ by allowing ‘all payments by student borrowers to count toward PSLF, regardless of loan program or payment plan,’” wrote the lawmakers to Secretary Cardona. “To date, the waiver has been overwhelmingly successful in reducing barriers for borrowers to receive PSLF relief—accounting for almost all (89%) of the borrowers who have received forgiveness through the PSLF program through June 30, 2022.” 

The lawmakers pointed out that data makes it clear that only a fraction of the public servants who are eligible for PSLF have utilized the current waiver. As of the end of June, the Department only has information from 1.3 million PSLF borrowers with eligible employment and positive loan balances, compared to the 9 million public service workers that the Student Borrower Protection Center identified earlier this year who could potentially be eligible for PSLF. 

“For many borrowers, the Department’s one-time review to fix forbearance and deferment failures, scheduled for later this year—potentially after October 31, 2022—may be the first time that they learn that certain periods of deferment and forbearance could count toward both income-driven repayment (IDR) and PSLF programs,” added the lawmakers. “…For many public servants, losing access to the PSLF waiver before they are able to benefit from the IDR payment adjustment could prevent them from being able to pursue forgiveness under PSLF.” 

The lawmakers highlighted how extending the PSLF waiver will also allow more military service members and federal employees to make progress towards achieving loan forgiveness through the PSLF program. Reporting shows that military service members face troubling administrative hurdles in certifying their employment for the PSLF program. By extending the PSLF waiver, more military service members and federal employees can benefit – maximizing the promise of the PSLF waiver.  

“[W]e also ask that the Department increase its outreach to public servants and borrowers to ensure that they are aware of the waiver and understand eligibility requirements, and correct any misinformation about the waiver being communicated by student loan servicers,” concluded the lawmakers

The letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). 

Shaheen has been a strong advocate to provide public servants with the federal support that they deserve. Last year, Shaheen joined a bicameral push in calling on the Biden administration to strengthen the PSLF program and to ensure that America’s teachers, social workers, public defenders, service members and community health care workers, along with many other public servants, receive the student loan forgiveness that they have earned. Shaheen was also a supporter of the What You Can Do for Your Country Act of 2019, which would have overhauled the PSLF program in order to better ensure that public servants will qualify for loan forgiveness.  

Find a copy of the letter HERE