October 8, 2021

Higher Ed Policy Roundup: Vol. 5 - Issue 36

Policy and Advocacy


This Week in Washington

On Wednesday, the Education Department (ED) announced plans to overhaul the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program with the aim of extending relief to additional student borrowers. Under the changes, ED will:

  • Temporarily count all payments by student borrowers regardless of loan program (if consolidated into a Direct Loan) or repayment plan;
  • Waive the requirement that payments be made in the full amount and on-time for all borrowers;
  • Allow active-duty service members to count deferments and forbearances toward PSLF;
  • Automatically provide credit towards PSLF for military service members and federal employees using federal data matches;
  • Review denied PSLF applications for errors and give borrowers the ability to have their PSLF determinations reconsidered;
  • Improve outreach and communication with PSLF-eligible borrowers; and
  • Improve the Office of Federal Student Aid’s database of qualifying employers and create an option to digitally sign PSLF applications.

Student borrowers that want to take advantage of the temporary waiver will need to submit a PSLF form by October 31, 2022. Read our statement of support for the new changes to the PSLF program here.

On Monday, an ED rulemaking committee comprised of representatives for students, financial aid administrators, and colleges (among others) convened to begin working through changes to various higher education policies. Recall that, back in May, ED announced a plan to solicit feedback regarding future rulemaking on several issues including income-contingent loan repayment plans, PSLF, interest capitalization, and loan discharges for borrowers with a total and permanent disability. The committee will continue meet again in November and December, with a goal of finalizing the regulations by November 2022. More information can be found here.   

News You Can Use

This week, AccessLex released a new issue brief and set of recommendations for reforming income-driven repayment plans.

Soon, 16 million student loan borrowers will get a new student loan servicer.

Federal higher education and student loan policy changes could help close the racial wealth gap.

Recent Legislation

There were no relevant student-aid related bills recently introduced for consideration by the 117th Congress (2021-2022).