Democrats propose expanding student loan forgiveness for government employees
Further student loan forgiveness would "incentivize public service," said House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.
House Majority Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina and Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Brendan Boyle are proposing new legislation to expand the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program as a way to encourage more young people to work for the government.
Federal, state and local government full-time employees as well as employees of tax-exempt not-for-profit organizations are eligible to apply for student loan forgiveness under the PSLF.
The existing program "discharges any remaining federal student loan balance after borrowers make 10 years' worth of payments," according to the financial website Nerdwallet.
August 2022 data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that 1,578,036 borrowers applied for PSLF and Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness since Nov. 9, 2020 and 210,240 had their loans discharged.
"The average balance of borrowers whose loans were discharged under PSLF was $63,962," Nerdwallet reported.
Boyle said the 10-year time frame stays the same in their legislation, but "the sort of relief you can get along the way is being changed." Clyburn's and Boyle's offices did not provide the specific changes that will be made before press time. The full text of the legislation is not yet publicly available.
PSLF recipients are still eligible for President Biden's student loan forgiveness program, which offers up to $20,000 per qualified borrower. The current student loan program, which Biden implemented without congressional action, was blocked by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. The Biden administration is still encouraging borrowers to apply.
Clyburn and Boyle were asked if they also want to see Biden's student loan forgiveness program expanded.
"There's some who said the president went too far, there's some who said he didn't go far enough, you know, that comes with leadership, so there are always going to be those criticisms," Boyle said. "For us, and this legislation, I want to keep the focus on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and our reforms to it."
Clyburn said making the program more attractive would lead to the hiring of additional teachers, police officers and firefighters.
"Here in South Carolina, we're 6,000 teachers short," he said. "This is a good way to get young people to teaching, to be police officers, to be firemen, to be in other kinds of public service professions that will allow them to make a living and not be saddled with too much debt going forward and not be able to buy a home and do the things that are necessary to start a life. So part of what we're doing here is not just to forgive a loan, but to encourage and incentivize, and I know it's not a word, but to incentivize public service."