WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) introduced a bipartisan bill today to ensure public servants and frontline workers whose jobs may have been disrupted by COVID-19 still qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
“Many doctors, nurses, teachers, and other public employees have had their jobs impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Swalwell said. “We made a deal that their public service could be rewarded with forgiveness of their student loans, and we should honor that deal no matter what – especially if the pandemic has thrown their livelihoods for a loop.”
“Now more than ever, we need to support those who pursue careers that contribute to the health and well-being of the American people,” said Rep. Dave Joyce, Co-Chair of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Caucus. “While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of our public servants to battle this virus on the front lines, others have been temporarily furloughed or laid-off. I’m proud to introduce this bill with Rep. Swalwell to ensure that the public servants whose livelihoods have been derailed by COVID-19 can continue to count payments toward the total required to receive the loan forgiveness they have worked so hard for.”
The PSLF program provides forgiveness of the remaining balance of student loans to qualified borrowers after they have made 120 monthly payments on their loans while working full-time in public service. But if such borrowers lose their public service job or are furloughed, any payments made after that loss of employment would not count toward loan forgiveness.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act gave all federal student loan borrowers a break by requiring no payments from March 13 through September 30. Participants in the PSLF program are still able to count qualified payments toward their required total of 120 during this time – unless they’ve temporarily lost their public-sector jobs due to the pandemic.
Swalwell’s and Joyce’s bipartisan Protecting Access to Loan Forgiveness for Public Servants During the COVID-19 Pandemic Act would ensure such workers can continue to count loan payments toward their total required for forgiveness under the PSLF program so long as they re-start their public service jobs within six months after the end of this public health emergency. It also would require the Secretary of Education to develop and make available guidance for those who are eligible for this emergency job disruption assistance.
As the founder and chairman emeritus of Future Forum – a group of young House Democrats that engages with millennial Americans on issues most important to them, including student loan debt – Swalwell is also the author of the Strengthening Loan Forgiveness for Public Servants Act. That bill, re-introduced most recently in June 2019, would let new PSLF program participants have their eligible loans deferred while they work in public service and receive forgiveness in proportion to their years of public service – after every two years, they would have a certain percentage of their eligible balance cancelled. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the companion bill in the Senate.
“For all who are risking lives and making untold sacrifices, what better way of saying thanks than to relieve the crushing weight of student debt,” Blumenthal said. “This step, expanding opportunities to alleviate financially crippling burdens, is a win-win for them and our nation. These public servants have earned every dime of this recognition.”