By:  Emily Wilkins
Source: Bloomberg BNA

Don’t Kill Loan Forgiveness in Higher Ed Bill, Republicans Say

Don’t eliminate the program that discharges student loans for qualified public workers, 13 Republicans urged the House education panel’s chairwoman in a letter acquired by Bloomberg Government May 7.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program would be eliminated under a House GOP bill called the PROSPER Act (H.R. 4508) that would update the education law by simplifying the program and cutting regulations. The Republicans’ letter comes as lawmakers discuss whether to bring the higher education bill to the floor.

The loan forgiveness program began discharging public servants’ loans last fall. To qualify, borrowers must have worked in the public or nonprofit sector for 10 years and have made on-time payments on their student loans. About 600,000 borrowers will be eligible to have loans discharged between 2018 and 2025, according to an Education Department estimate.

“While well intentioned, the PSLF program allows the government to pick winners and losers based on the tax status of an employer. The PROSPER Act provides everyone with the same deal regardless of what career they wish to pursue,” committee spokesman Michael Woeste told Bloomberg Government today.


But Republicans in the April 18 letter told Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) the PSLF should be preserved because it helps “ensure talented and committed students are able to pursue rewarding work of public service upon completing their education.”

“Teachers, firefighters, police officers, military veterans, prosecutors, social workers, doctors, nurses, veterinarians and charitable employees are among the dedicated professionals that have told us PSLF provides the financial feasibility they need to dedicate their careers to serving our communities,” Republicans in the letter, including Reps. Charles Dent (D-Pa.) and David Joyce (D-Ohio), said.

The letter doesn’t contain the signature of Rep. Glenn Thompson, (R-Pa.), who supported an amendment during the bill’s markup to keep PSLF intact. One of the letter’s signers, Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), has since resigned.

A memo from the Defense Department also mentioned concerns about ending the program. But the official stance of the Trump administration, reflected in the Education Department’s budget, is to eliminate it. Foxx has been working to educate members and their staffs to get the bill to a floor vote.

Eliminating PSLF is estimated to save taxpayers more than $23 billion during the next decade. The program’s elimination provides a bulk of savings in the bill, according to a Congressional Budget Office report.