Public Service Loan Forgiveness: "One of Our Most Valuable Recruiting Tools"

June 13, 2017

President Trump's 2018 budget proposal includes drastic cuts to the U.S. Department of Education (ED): $10.6 billion in reductions to federal education initiatives. Among them are the elimination of Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG) as well as the Corporation for National and Community Service, including AmeriCorps; a $3.9 billion reduction from the Pell Grant program reserve fund, with the inflationary adjustment eliminated; $487 million, or almost half of funding, slashed from Federal Work-Study; and elimination of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).

George W. Bush signed PSLF into law in 2007, making this year the first in which students are eligible to have the balance of their student loans forgiven if they have worked for a qualifying non-profit for the last 10 years and made their payments on time. However, right as the program is about to fulfill its promise, Trump would eliminate it, arguing that PSLF is unnecessary in light of income-driven student loan repayment.

The following stories from NCAN members highlight the importance of this funding to college access programs and the students they serve. NCAN members demonstrate that PSLF encourages low-income students to pursue careers that give back to society and the economy without hurting their financial futures. Additionally, most NCAN members qualify as PSLF employers, meaning that the college advisors working with students every day -- for less pay than they would get in the for-profit world -- also benefit from this advantage.


“An important public service in a rural, economically challenged area”

From Andrew Vodden, head of the public defender office in Spencer, WV and a volunteer at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission's annual summer GEAR UP academy:

Two-thirds of our attorneys are enrolled in the PSLF program, and I think it’s fair to say it’s one of our most valuable recruiting tools. Our lawyers are incredibly talented and could easily make much more working for a private firm in the state’s capital, which is about an hour away. But the loan forgiveness program offers a strong incentive for them to work here — providing an important public service in a rural, economically challenged area.


“The reason I continue to work in public service”

From Valerie R. Peterson Ed.D, AVID Center:

NCAN member Valerie Peterson, Ed.D., followed her American Dream to go away to college. She successfully completed her bachelor’s degree in four years, all while caring for her two young daughters. Now she has completed a master’s and doctorate degrees as a single mom, has one daughter in college, and one on the way. A Partner Engagement Manager for AVID, Valerie says that “PSLF was a major game changer and the reason I continue to work in public service.” PSLF allows Valerie to give back to students like her while also supporting her daughters’ education as she pays back her own student loans.

From Kristina Scott, Alabama Possible:

Forty percent of our staff qualify for loan forgiveness (the rest of us don’t have any loans)!

From Robin Walker, The College Initiative

Eighty-two percent of The College Initiative's full-time staff is currently working toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness. 

From Robbie Stabeno, WACO Foundation's MAC Program:

Three of our 11 staff members are recent graduates and would qualify for student loan forgiveness.


“Eliminating PSLF would have a devastating effect”
 
From Elizabeth Day, College Now Greater Cleveland:
 
Since 2013, College Now has worked in the community to help eligible college graduates enroll in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. To date, College Now has saved 826 individuals, on average, $81,000 in student loan debt. These include people working for public schools, county government and health systems. One client said that working with College Now’s Student Loan Rescue Program “made a positive, significant impact on our family's future well-being” and that they “will continue [their] relationship with College Now (future college student)” as a result. Eliminating PSLF would have a devastating effect on those individuals as well as on the community.

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