Press Release

May 20, 2020
Senators Introduce Legislation to Expand & Improve Public Service Loan Forgiveness amid Covid-19 Pandemic

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) joined ten Senate colleagues to introduce the Strengthening Loan Forgiveness for Public Servants During the COVID-19 Crisis Act, legislation that would provide student debt relief to public health workers, police officers, and others who dedicate their careers to public service. Many of these public servants have been playing a central role in helping communities across the country respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“No individual willing to serve their community in a public service career should be held back from their calling due to the high cost of paying off their student loans,” said Cardin. “This legislation reinforces our commitment to those front-line public service employees, as well as ensuring that they will be held harmless if laid off by an employer as a result of COVID-19 related revenue losses.”

The bill expands the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLFP) to provide meaningful student debt relief to those in public service. It would eliminate uncertainty for borrowers, and further incentivize public service by allowing borrowers to receive forgiveness for their loans in qualifying intervals. It also provides support for public servants and frontline workers whose employment may have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

“For all who are risking lives and making untold sacrifices, what better way of saying thanks than to relieve the crushing weight of student debt,” said Blumenthal. “This step, expanding opportunities to alleviate financially crippling burdens, is a win-win for them and our nation. These public servants have earned every dime of this recognition.”

“One way we can support our nation’s most dedicated public servants, many of whom are on the front lines of this crisis, is by strengthening the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program,” said Warren. “We owe it to our nurses, teachers, first responders, and other public servants to get them the student loan forgiveness Congress promised them.”

“We want to help people who dedicate themselves to public service—like teachers, police officers and public health workers in Minnesota and states across the country—by expanding the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program,” said Smith. “Our legislation would help provide student debt relief to these workers, and focuses on supporting public servants and frontline workers whose employment may have been affected by the pandemic.”

“A powerful way for us to show our gratitude to the public servants on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis is to provide them much needed relief from student debt,” said Markey. “This legislation is a powerful signal that public service is rewarding in terms of contribution to our country and loan forgiveness. I am proud to join Senator Blumenthal and my colleagues in introducing this important bill.”

“Now more than ever, we’re seeing just how much we rely on the work of first responders, police officers and health care workers,” said Feinstein. “Supporting these and other public servants by bolstering the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is a commonsense measure that will make a real financial difference for thousands of people. We also must ensure that any public servant who loses their job due to the pandemic will still qualify for loan forgiveness while the pandemic continues and be able to continue receiving credit once they return to work. I’m proud to join my colleagues on this bill.”

A summary of the bill can be found here and the full text of the bill can be found here.