Sending Office: Honorable Mark DeSaulnier
Dear Colleague –
Congressmen Sarbanes and DeSaulnier invite your bosses to cosponsor H.R. 2441, the
What You Can Do for Your Country Act of 2019, which would close loopholes, address implementation failures, and strengthen the Public
Service Loan Forgiveness program so that eligible public servants – such as teachers, veterans, and first responders – qualify for the loan forgiveness they have earned.
Enacted in 2007 under President George Bush, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program encourages students to enter and remain in public service jobs by providing debt relief to individuals who make 120 monthly qualifying payments while working
full-time for public service employers. However, according to a
recent GAO report, implementation failures at the U.S. Department of Education resulted in only one percent of eligible applicants receiving loan forgiveness.
The What You Can Do for Your Country Act would correct these issues by expanding the types of federal loans and repayment plans that qualify for the program, simplifying the PSLF application process, streamlining the program’s certification process and providing
better information to participants about their status in the program. The bill also allows borrowers to receive a partial forgiveness benefit after five years of service. These reforms would create a clear path to student loan forgiveness for those who make
a significant impact in their communities and for those who serve their country, including teachers, veterans, and first responders.
Please reach out to Timia Crisp at
email@example.com with Rep. Sarbanes’ office or Margo Tercek with Rep. DeSaulnier’s office at
firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to join as a cosponsor.
- All types of federal loans would qualify for forgiveness. The bill would allow borrowers with both Direct Loans, and loans in the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program, to qualify for forgiveness. Under current law, borrowers who
took out federally-backed FFEL loans have been deemed ineligible for PSLF with little recourse. This bill would allow borrowers to consolidate their loans without losing credit toward forgiveness.
- All federal repayment plans would qualify. Borrowers enrolled in any federal student loan repayment plan could receive forgiveness. Under current law, borrowers who are on “extended” or “graduated” repayment plans fall into a loophole and
are generally ineligible.
- Public servants would receive clearer information and guidance.
The U.S. Department of Education would be required to give borrowers better up-front information about whether they qualify, how many payments are counted and why, and what they can do to dispute any issue with how their progress is determined. Borrowers who
“pay ahead” will be clearly able to apply these payments toward forgiveness.
- Borrowers could receive a partial forgiveness after five years of public service.
Instead of making borrowers wait a full 10 years to receive full forgiveness, borrowers could have half of their loans forgiven at 5 years, with the remaining balance forgiven at the end of 10 years. This allows borrowers to contribute a shorter, but
still meaningful, period of public service and to ensure they can still receive a benefit from giving back.
- The application and certification process would be simplified.
The Department of Education would be required to provide a fully electronic system to upload and process all forms, including the option to obtain employer certification using a digital signature, or self-certification for borrowers when their employer no longer
exists. The Department would also be required to establish a database of qualifying federal and state employers to help automatically qualify some borrowers.
The legislation has been endorsed by American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, National Association for College Admission Counseling, National Legal Aid
& Defender Organization, National Association of Social Workers, Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions, Student Debt Crisis, Young Invincibles, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Equal Justice Works, California Association of
Nonprofits, Legal Aid at Work, Association of Young Americans, Council on Social Work Education, Civil Service Bar Association, American Psychological Association, National Legal Aid and Defender Association, AccessLex Institute, National Association for College
Admissions Counseling, National Labor Relations Board Union, National Association of Elementary School Principals, American Bar Association, Loan Repayment Assistance Program of Minnesota, Service Year Alliance, Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges,
Higher Education Consortium for Special Education , Teacher Education Division, Council for Exceptional Children, The Higher Education Loan Coalition, American School Counselor Association
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0