Note: While this series focuses on law students and legal education, the changes outlined apply to all graduate and professional programs and degrees. There is a slight modification for certain medical-related programs, but that is beyond the scope of these discussions.
In 2007, Congress, in a bipartisan manner, created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. PSLF is meant to incentivize professionals to enter and stay in jobs that provide critical services to the public. This includes law enforcement, firefighters, armed services, teachers, social workers, legal aid attorneys, prosecutors, public defenders and many others.
The deal is simple: spend at least ten years working in critical public service fields and the balance of any qualifying federal loans being repaid with the right plan will be forgiven. Even better, the final discharge of those loans is not taxable, unlike forgiveness under income-driven repayment plans.
Unfortunately, the civically minded, bipartisan PSLF program is completely eliminated in the House committee-passed PROSPER Act. While those who currently borrow under the federal Direct Loan program will be grandfathered in, no new borrowers would be eligible for PSLF.
At a time when so many people in America need services provided by public servants, eliminating a program that allows students to follow their passion for public service without having the burden of crushing student debt will have ripple effects across this country.
But you can do something about it:
The U.S. Senate is currently engaged in a debate about changes to higher education law. You can have a major influence over how higher education will work in the future.
Call your members of Congress to let them know how these changes offered in the PROSPER Act would negatively impact you and other law students. Let them know that you expect policies that protect borrowers and make education less burdensome and less expensive!
We have resources to help you contact your Senators and Representatives. Check out our student version of our #MakeTheCase Advocacy campaign.