ALA calls on U.S. Dept. of Education to review PSLF program

For Immediate Release
Tue, 04/20/2021


Shawnda Hines

Assistant Director, Communications

Public Policy and Advocacy

WASHINGTON – The American Library Association (ALA) joined nearly 100 national and state organizations in signing a letter to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, requesting the agency undertake a review of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. 

Created in 2007 and administered by the Department of Education, the PSLF program forgives the remaining balance on direct student loans after a borrower has made 120 qualifying monthly payments while working full-time for a qualifying government or not-for-profit employer. Since the first PSLF workers became eligible for debt cancellation in 2017, 98 percent of those who applied have been rejected.

“Congress, in a bipartisan fashion, made a promise more than a decade ago that public service workers who choose to give back to their communities and our country wouldn't be locked in a lifetime of debt,” the letter states. “It is clear, however, that this promise has been broken. Since the first public service workers became eligible for debt cancellation in 2017, 98 percent of those who applied have been rejected.”
The coalition letter calls on Secretary Cardona to review the PSLF student loan accounts, take steps to streamline participation and end mismanagement from some loan holders, whose abuse of the program threatens to force some participants to re-start their 10-year pathway to loan forgiveness. The letter also calls on the Secretary to cancel student debt owed by those who have already served 10 or more years but have not qualified due to government mismanagement and loan industry abuses.

Since 2017, ALA has worked in the coalition to oppose efforts in Congress and the Administration to sunset PSLF. In May 2020, ALA joined coalition efforts to ensure that suspension of loan payment due to COVID-19 would not adversely affect participants’ PSLF payment schedules. The April 2021 PSLF coalition letter was led by the Student Borrower Protection Center and Equal Justice Works.