Bill to overhaul student loan forgiveness program introduced

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WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- A group of U.S. Senators, including Tim Kaine, have introduced a bill to overhaul a student loan forgiveness program and help millions of Americans.

According to a release, Kaine and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York led a group of 13 to introduce the What You can Do for Your Country Act of 2019.

This bill would overhaul the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, or PSLF, to ensure that millions of teachers, social workers, members of the military, first responders, nurses, public defenders and other public service professionals qualify for loan forgiveness they have earned.

The release says the U.S. Department of Education has failed to properly implement the program for years, which means less than one percent of the people who should be eligible have received loan forgiveness.

This new bill would expand eligibility so that every type of federal loan and repayment plan is included and ensure public servants can count on repayment when they apply for loan forgiveness.

The program was specifically created to provide student loan debt relief to public service workers, but it has worked for less than one percent of all who have applied for assistance.

The PSLF program was established in 2007, and more than 1.17 million public servants have applied for forgiveness under it. Of them, the U.S. Government Accountability Office says only 55 borrowers were approved.

Problems have arisen based on what type of loan or repayment plan the borrower had.

Until now, people who took out Federal Family Education Loans were deemed ineligible for relief, and borrowers who were enrolled on extended or graduated repayment plans would generally be ineligible.

This new bill would allow all types of federal loans to qualify, allow all federal repayment plans qualify, ensure the Department of Education provides public servants with clearer information and guidance, allow borrowers to get partial forgiveness after five years of public service, and simplify the application and certification process.

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