Attorney General Tong Calls for Extension of Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver
Attorney General Tong Urges the Biden Administration to Provide More Time and Opportunity for Borrowers to Achieve Loan Forgiveness
(Hartford, CT) – Attorney General William Tong joined a coalition of 20 states in urging the Biden Administration to extend and expand temporary changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program to provide borrowers with more opportunities to get closer to loan forgiveness faster.
Under the PSLF Program, remaining balances on federal Direct Loans are forgiven after borrowers – dedicated public servants such as teachers, firefighters, nurses, police officers – make 120 qualifying payments while working full-time for a qualifying employer. However, due to the PSLF Program’s complexity and poor management, millions of public service workers have been unable to access forgiveness, and the program’s denial rates have been as high as 99 percent. To restore the promise of PSLF, in October 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced a temporary “Limited PSLF Waiver” which temporarily offers millions of qualifying public service workers the chance to have previously nonqualifying repayment periods counted toward loan forgiveness. The Department plans to conduct a one-time account adjustment later this fall that will count certain long-term forbearance periods toward forgiveness under PSLF.
In their letter sent to President Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, the attorneys general request an extension of the Limited PSLF Waiver’s deadline on October 31, 2022, noting that many borrowers remain unaware of or confused by the waiver, and that an extension is necessary to enable borrowers to get the information and help they need to secure critical waiver benefits. The letter also cautions against ending the waiver just two months after the federal loan portfolio is scheduled to resume repayment and amidst an ongoing transfer to a new PSLF servicer. Further, the letter expresses concerns over subjecting borrowers to repeated PSLF rule changes over a relatively short period of time.
“Millions of teachers, nurses, first responders and other dedicated public servants have been unfairly denied promised loan forgiveness due to longstanding bureaucratic dysfunction. President Biden and Secretary Cardona were right to recognize this injustice, and to provide waivers to get applicants back on track. But the waiver deadline is now just a few months away, and too many borrowers are still unaware of or confused by this process. We need to extend the waiver, and streamline this process to get relief to everyone who needs it,” said Attorney General Tong.
The attorneys general also argue that the waiver should automatically count all forbearance periods toward loan forgiveness and made available to all federal loan borrowers to address pervasive servicer misconduct and resulting missed opportunities to make qualifying payments. In addition, the attorneys general advocate for equal treatment for all federal loan borrowers by recommending that waiver benefits be expanded to include all Parent PLUS borrowers and borrowers who obtained FFEL joint consolidation loans with spouses.
The letter, co-led by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, was joined by the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Assistant Attorneys General Patrick Ring, John Langmaid, and Heather Wilson assisted the Attorney General in this matter.