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Attorney General William Tong

11/22/2019

ATTORNEY GENERAL TONG ARGUES PUBLIC SERVANTS DESERVE PROMISED STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS

(Hartford, CT) -- Attorney General William Tong joined a coalition of 21 state attorneys general today in filing an amicus brief with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in support of public servants who have been denied promised federal student loan debt forgiveness.

The U.S. Department of Education has committed pervasive errors in administering the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. As a result, less than one percent of all applicants have received relief. In their brief, Attorney General Tong and the coalition stress the importance of the PSLF programs and ask the Court to closely review borrowers’ specific allegations.

In July, the American Federation of Teachers sued Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education for its gross mismanagement of the PSLF program. The defendants have since sought a sweeping order of dismissal from the court. In the amicus brief, the state attorneys general outline how state residents have been harmed, and urge the court to allow this important case to proceed.

"Teachers, firefighters, police officers and other public servants have been diligently doing their jobs and paying down their loans, while the U.S. Department of Education has done nothing but create useless red tape. Less than one percent of Public Service Loan Forgiveness applicants have received promised relief. That is a stunning failure on the part of the federal government. This bureaucratic disaster is causing severe hardships for public servants who followed all the rules and planned their finances accordingly. Their case is strong, and they deserve the chance to make their case in court," said Attorney General William Tong.

The PSLF program allows borrowers who pay down their loans while working for 10 years in a qualifying public service job, such as teachers, law enforcement officers, and members of the military, to have the remainder of their federal direct student loans forgiven. This program gives public servants the chance to pass up higher, private sector salaries and still pay off their student debt. According to Department of Education reports, more than one million Americans intend to apply for PSLF. Nearly two-thirds of these people had annual salaries of less than $50,000.

However, the Department of Education has denied relief to over 99 percent of applicants. The first PSLF borrowers became eligible for forgiveness in October 2017. Since then, 90,962 people have applied for loan discharge pursuant to PSLF, but only 845 people have received it.

Federal government reports admit that the Department of Education has made pervasive errors, including mistakes in record-keeping, providing inaccurate information to borrowers, steering borrowers to take actions that made them ineligible, and failing to explain why applications were denied.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein led the brief, along with attorneys general from California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
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