U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) spoke with SCSU President Mary Papazian, students, and faculty at a campus round table on Sept. 24 to discuss his new legislation aimed at expanding the existing Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. According to Blumenthal, this would provide meaningful student debt relief to teachers, police officers, public health workers, and others who dedicate their careers to public service.
“The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program provides an important incentive for graduates to enter public service occupations by offering relief from student loan debt,” Blumenthal said. “Because of the increasing frequency of graduates facing crushing amounts of student loan debt, that incentive is more important than ever.
“Unfortunately, the current PSLF program is structured as an all-or-nothing deal; unless you complete 10 years of public service, even if you lose your job after nine years and 11 months, you don’t receive any relief from your student loan debt. For PSLF participants whose loans continued to accrue interest over those years, losing a public service job could feel like being forced to start repayment efforts from scratch.”
The Strengthening Forgiveness for Public Servants Act would enhance the incentive to enter public service by allowing graduates to receive loan forgiveness in proportion to their years of public service. In addition, the act would allow new participants in the PSLF to have their loans placed in deferment during their employment. Lastly, in order to avoid any confusion about which occupations qualify as public service, the bill requires graduates to fill out an employment certification form in order to participate in the PSLF program.
“Teachers, police officers, public health workers, and other public servants should be applauded and supported — and not drowned in debt to pay for the degrees many such jobs require,” Blumenthal said.
“The current Public Service Loan Forgiveness program should be expanded—and made more flexible—to enable student debt to be worked down or off completely. We should reward public service—particularly as the need for talented and dedicated public servants grows.”