Most still waiting for student debt forgiveness

Krista Olson-Lehman, Staff Writer

n 2007, President George W. Bush signed into law a student debt forgiveness program. This program was implemented under the next elected president, Barack Obama. The premise of the program: Anyone who is a public servant such as nurses, first responders and teachers, who have made 10 years of student loan payments should have the rest of the loan forgiven.

This kind of program rewards public servants for their years of service and incentivizes students who might have balked at the idea of taking out student loans into these much-needed career paths.

As 2018 approached, the first recipients of this benefit applied.

What happened?

According to the Department of Education’s numbers released that year, over 41,000 eligible people applied. Out of all of these applicants, 206 people received their benefit.

In 2018 Congress stepped in and ordered a temporary program to implement the original program and get borrowers their promised loan forgiveness. Congress specifically included language in this legislation to “develop and make available a simple method for borrowers to apply for loan cancel-lation.”

A watchdog report released by the Government Accountability office shows that out of 54,184 applications submitted to the new temporary program, only 661 were accepted. Meaning once again, over 99% of these applications were rejected.

Problems in accepting claims in 2018 and 2019 have been blamed on lenders being steered toward loans that did not qualify for the program, poor communication about how the program works, missing paperwork and a confusing multi-step application process. Especially confusing for students is the fact they have to apply for the Public Servant Loan Forgiveness program, which they were deemed ineligible for, in order to apply for the temporary program.

These students are now working as important public servants in our communities. They went to school with the promise of loan forgiveness for hard work and paying their loans back on time.

Over 99 percent of these public servants are still paying on these loans and still working out what they have to apply for and how to potentially get the forgiveness that was promised to them in 2007.