AFSCME supports bill that would further expand and improve loan forgiveness program

Thanks to efforts by the Biden administration and AFSCME, many public service workers, including AFSCME members, have seen their student loans forgiven under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

AFSCME-backed legislation unveiled today would further improve and expand the program.

PSLF was created in 2007 with the promise to provide federal student loan forgiveness to borrowers who worked in public service for 10 years and made qualifying monthly payments. Yet eligible borrowers encountered many obstacles when applying to the program, with the vast majority of applicants being wrongly denied forgiveness.

However, last year, the Biden administration issued a temporary waiver that expanded the program’s eligibility, allowing more than 236,000 workers – including AFSCME members – to receive loan forgiveness. This waiver expired on Oct. 31.

As part of a continuing effort to relieve working families of the burdens of student debt, two congressional lawmakers introduced the Public Service Reward Act today. The bill would expand and improve the PSLF to benefit even more public service workers and solve many of the issues that applicants have faced since the program began accepting and reviewing applications. House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina and Rep. Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania introduced the proposal.

Among other things, the Public Service Reward Act would:

  • Provide partial debt forgiveness for every 12 qualifying payments an eligible borrower makes;
  • Provide partial to full debt cancellation for borrowers who worked in public service between the enactment of PSLF and this bill, should it become law;
  • Allow borrowers to consolidate their loans without resetting the count of qualifying payments;
  • Allow borrowers who were denied to reapply under the updated eligibility provisions;
  • Streamline the application process; and more.

AFSCME President Lee Saunders said the bill would “improve recruitment and retention [of public service workers] at a time when so many public service jobs are still vacant.”

“Public service workers dedicate their lives and make great sacrifices to keep our communities strong,” Saunders also said. “But too many are forced to take on overwhelming debt just to get the skills required to do these essential jobs that we all depend on. … Debt relief is critical to helping more working families enjoy greater economic security.”

Although the temporary PSLF waiver has expired, eligible borrowers can apply to PSLF under the program’s normal requirements. Learn more about PSLF on AFSCME’s website.