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Lawmakers Want to Expand a Student Loan Forgiveness Program

Credit: Newsy Studio
Published on April 12, 2019 - Duration: 01:23s

Lawmakers Want to Expand a Student Loan Forgiveness Program

A group of Democratic senators have introduced a bill that aims to broaden the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness program in a few ways.

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Lawmakers Want to Expand a Student Loan Forgiveness Program

Democratic lawmakers  are proposing legislation that would overhaul the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness program.  It's called the  What You Can Do For Your Country Act , and it aims to expand the pool of student loan borrowers who'd be eligible to have their debt canceled.  Federal data  shows that as of last year, the government's forgiven just  206 borrowers' loans  under the program, even though more than 41,000 people have applied.  The Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness program, created under the George W.

Bush administration, erases student loans for people who are full-time employees in certain public service jobs — as long as they've made on-time payments for 10 years.  This new bill suggests  changes like making all federal loans and federal repayment plans eligible for the program, instead of just some.

It would also streamline the application process for loan forgiveness.

And — maybe the biggest change — borrowers could have 50 percent of their loans forgiven after 5 years instead of 10.

Supporters of the legislation, which has backing from several presidential candidates, say reworking the program would bring more people into public service work.  But the  Trump administration's 2020 budget  for the Education Department proposes cutting the program altogether, which critics argue will will steer people away from certain jobs, like police officers, firefighters and public defenders.

Analysts estimate  that national student loan debt reached close to $1.5 trillion last year. 

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