WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) applauds the Biden Administration for making systemic and substantial improvements to the failing Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. These long overdue reforms will relieve public service professionals, including social workers, from staggering student loan debt loads.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) on Wednesday announced it is overhauling PSLF. The program was created in 2007 to provide financial relief in the form of student loan forgiveness to public service workers in exchange for 10 years of service to their communities or the nation, often in low-paying positions. Since its inception, the program has been mishandled and undermined by the federal government and the student loan industry.
“Social workers participating in PSLF are essential public service professionals, providing invaluable services to clients and communities,” said NASW Public Policy Director Sarah Butts, MSW. “PSLF changes have potential to transform the lives of social workers across the country, renewing hope and providing significant financial relief from the substantial student debt burden that our workforce carries. The reformed PSLF is also crucial in recruiting and retaining social workers who continue to serve on the frontlines in numerous settings.” The administration in July launched a public inquiry into the failures of PSLF and issued a request for information about the experiences of public service borrowers. NASW, along with the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) and others, mobilized public service workers to share their stories about student loan debt through a Campaign to Tell President Biden to Eliminate Student Debt for Public Service Workers. Hundreds of social workers shared about their problematic experiences with the program and the significant financial toll that student loan debt has had on their careers, their households, and their well-being. NASW submitted a memo to ED and comments in response to the request for information on the program. The planned reforms include a set of actions that, over the coming months, will restore the promise of PSLF. These changes include a time-limited waiver so that student borrowers can count payments from all federal loan programs or repayment plans toward forgiveness. This includes loan types and payment plans that were not previously eligible. ED will also automate PSLF eligibility, give borrowers a way to get errors corrected, and make it easier for members of the military to get credit toward forgiveness while they serve. NASW will continue its ongoing advocacy on student debt and will be providing information on accessing student loan forgiveness through PSLF. Federal Student Aid will make more information available to borrowers at StudentAid.gov/PSLFWaiver.
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), in Washington, DC, is the largest membership organization of professional social workers. It promotes, develops, and protects the practice of social work and social workers. NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families, and communities through its advocacy.