Roommates, Congress may have thought they were making it easier for borrowers to apply for federal student loan forgiveness, but it looks like they may have done more harm than good. A new report says almost applicant has been rejected.
According to CNN, the Education Department denied 99% of the requests for student loan debt forgiveness under the governments new Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Out of the 53,523, only 661 people were approved.
The program was enacted in 2007 under President George W. Bush, and allows borrowers to apply for debt cancellation after making 10 years worth of payments. To qualify, borrowers need to have a career in the public sector, like a teacher or social worker.
Congress reportedly set aside $700 million to expand the program in 2018 and address the low number of people qualifying for forgiveness, but the new report shows that money hasn’t heightened the numbers for applicants.
Democrats are looking at the results of the report as a direct reflection of Secretary Betsy DeVos’ role in the Education Department. Some say she isn’t doing what she should to help borrowers apply.
“The GAO’s report reveals that the Education Department is failing to competently implement the Temporarily Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness program,” said Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott.
Borrowers are arguing that the program qualifications were complex and poorly communicated by loan servers. Some have been filed lawsuits against the companies. Borrowers have even found that after making 10 years of payments, they didn’t have a qualifying student loan, were in the wrong repayment plan, or worked for an employer that didn’t qualify for forgiveness.
“The current Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is a bureaucratic nightmare, and the Department of Education is failing to meet its obligation to help ease the student debt burden for our nation’s public servants,” said Sen. Kirsten Gilibrand.
The Education Department mentioned in the report that it would implement recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office, but nothing has been changed yet.
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