ADEA Washington Update

Will the U.S. Department of Defense Save Public Student Loan Forgiveness?

(Education, Financial Aid, Higher Education) Permanent link   All Posts

ADEA works regularly with coalition partners to advocate for student loan forgiveness. The House proposed higher education act reauthorization bill, the PROSPER Act, planned to cut the Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The reauthorization bill would also make several major changes to graduate federal loans, including: 1) eliminate public service loan forgiveness; 2) eliminate income-based repayment, which lets federal loan borrowers cap their monthly payments at around 10% of their income, and see their loans forgiven after 20 or 25 years; and 3) cap federal graduate loans at $28,000 annually, instead of allowing students to borrow the full amount of tuition, living expenses, books and fees as determined by their individual programs.

PSLF was originally created with bipartisan support in 2007 and promised that student loan borrowers who worked for employers in the public or nonprofit sector and made 120 qualifying monthly payments would have the remainder of their federal loan balances discharged. The program aimed to encourage and maintain a well-educated public-sector workforce. According to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), PSLF allows for important recruitment and retention in the armed forces, especially to those who might not consider the option otherwise.

In a unique situation for the Republican-controlled Congress, DoD issued a document earlier this year stating its opposition to the passage of the PROSPER Act due to the bill’s plan to eliminate PSLF. The document alluded to the need for approximately 6,800 current service members to be grandfathered into the program if PROSPER passed as written. DoD’s opposition could make it more difficult for Republicans to get enough votes to pass PROSPER, and it suggests an uphill, long-term battle for proponents of eliminating PSLF, previously a priority for many Republican congressional leaders.

ADEA continues to work in support of programs such as PSLF to ensure that dental students who wish to work in population-based dentistry, oral health surveillance, policy development, community-based disease prevention and health promotion are able to do so. 

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