Gillibrand pushes for a more flexible student loan waiver program
The changes to the cancellation of federal student loans are expected to take effect, but Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has said more should be done to help public service workers.
The federal civil service loan forgiveness program is touted as a way for people embarking on certain careers – government, 501c3 not-for-profit – to get their student loans forgiven after 10 years. But there are requirements.
In addition to having some type of job, those who qualify must work full time, have a direct loan – a type of federal student loan – repay under an income-based repayment plan, and make 120 eligible payments. Qualifying payments, that is, on time, for the full amount and full time.
US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand wants to improve the PSLF program. Releasing a report on a press appeal on Thursday, the New York Democrat said only a small number of candidates were actually approved for pardon under the program.
âAmong PSLF participants who live in New York City, only 1.2% have had their loans canceled. And in total, PSLF participants in New York still owe more than $ 8 billion. This represents nearly 10 percent of all federal student loan debt outstanding in the state. It is so important that we fix this program and make it work for the people who have dedicated our professional lives to our community and to our state, âsaid Gillibrand.
Eliza Camire, who works at Skidmore College, where WAMC operates its Southern Adirondack office, says a colleague told her about the PSLF when she was hired full-time in 2011.
“And so I went through the steps to set up the right direct loan consolidation, and I was hoping – at this point, I’ve been with Skidmore for 10 years – so I was hoping that I would probably be done by now,” said Camire.
But it is not. On the one hand, the income-based monthly payment for his federal loan was too high – around $ 500 per month. So she postponed her payments until 2013. But even after making payments for over seven years, Camire isn’t making much progress on her loans.
âI don’t touch my capital, so the balance number changes. So I can’t really, I can’t get it lower than it is, so the only choice I have is for that to be forgiven, âCamire said.
Camire said the pause in student loan payments during the pandemic allowed her to tackle her private loans, but federal loans remain stubborn.
Earlier this month, the US Department of Education announced several new temporary rules to allow more people to qualify for the PSLF. Whereas previously loan payments had to be made on time and in full, the new rules allow any prior payment to count as a qualifying payment, regardless of loan type or repayment plan. In addition, previously refused PSLF requests can be reviewed, credit can be given for payments refused for technical reasons, and improvements have been made to the application process.
Gillibrand welcomed these changes, but says Congress needs to do more.
She is proposing a bill that includes two changes. First, the legislation would create a new option for borrowers to have half of their loans canceled after five years.
âThere are over 12,000 borrowers in New York who could see half of their debt paid off immediately if we made just one change. And second, it would expand eligibility and reduce the confusion that has so often led borrowers to be denied the rebate by permanently allowing all types of loans and repayment plans to qualify, âsaid Gillibrand.
And as important essential jobs are scarce due to the pandemic and the economic recovery after last year’s shutdown, Gillibrand said his changes could encourage more people to seek public service jobs.
âWe need people to go into nursing. We need people to teach. We need people to build careers in the public service. We need more firefighters and police. It is therefore important.