October 17, 2018

Cardin, Van Hollen Call on DeVos to Release More Information about the Department of Education’s Failure to Faithfully Implement the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) on Tuesday joined a bicameral group of more than 150 Democrats in calling on Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to explain and rectify the Department of Education’s failed implementation of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

“Without swift action, millions of dedicated teachers, first responders, service members and other public servants will face substantial harm due to preventable failures on the part of the Department and student loan servicers,” the senators wrote.

This request follows the release of a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which revealed an alarming number of PSLF borrowers have been denied loan forgiveness. The report also showed the Department has neglected to provide clear guidance and instructions to loan servicers. This failure at the Department has left servicers and borrowers in the dark about which employers qualify and without detailed, accurate information regarding their loan payments.

Additionally, official Department data recently showed that a shocking 99.6 percent of borrowers applying for PSLF have thus far been denied. Previous requests to Secretary DeVos to improve PSLF have been ignored, and the Administration has even proposed eliminating the critical loan forgiveness program entirely.

“Consumer advocates, state regulators, Members of Congress, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and GAO have all repeatedly raised alarms about the Department’s handling of the PSLF program,” the senators wrote. “Not only has this Administration ignored the mounting warning signs about PSLF … but it has actively reduced oversight of student loan servicers — thereby contributing to the current problems in student loan servicing.”

“We are deeply troubled that millions of dedicated public servants may not obtain the loan forgiveness that they deserve if the Department does not act quickly to correct program implementation issues,” the senators continued.

Cardin and Van Hollen also requested a timeline for implementing each GAO recommendation, a copy of the Department’s corrective action plan, and further details about the Department’s plan to reach out to all Direct Loan borrowers about PSLF and to fully digitize the employment certification and application process. It is critical that Congress have this information as authorizers of the program and to make any potential legislative corrections.

To read the full text of the letter, click here.

To read the GAO report entitled, “Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Education Needs to Provide Better Information for Loan Service and Borrowers,” click here.

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