U.S. Representative Jared Polis

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Polis demands answers on Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program after numerous constituents inquire

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Washington, October 17, 2018 | comments

Fort Collins: Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., alongside over 150 other members of Congress, requested Education Secretary Betsy DeVos turn over more information regarding- and swiftly act to fix - the Department’s flawed handling of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

“So many wonderful public servants throughout Colorado use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. It helps everyone from our teachers to our firefighters to our rural veterinarians. I’ve done - and will continue to do - everything possible to protect the program against attempts by the Trump Administration to defund or degrade it,” said Polis. “We must ensure that college is affordable for all, especially those who choose a life of service.”

This request for information follows the release of a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which revealed an alarming number of PSLF borrowers have been denied loan forgiveness. The report also showed the Department has neglected to provide clear guidance and instructions to loan servicers. This failure at the Department has left servicers and borrowers in the dark about which employers qualify and without detailed, accurate information regarding their loan payments.

Additionally, official Department data recently showed that a shocking 99.6 percent of borrowers applying for PSLF have so far been denied. Previous requests to Secretary DeVos to improve PSLF have been ignored, and the Administration has even proposed eliminating the critical loan forgiveness program entirely.

“Consumer advocates, state regulators, Members of Congress, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and GAO have all repeatedly raised alarms about the Department’s handling of the PSLF program,” the Members wrote. “Not only has this Administration ignored the mounting warning signs about … but it has actively reduced oversight of student loan servicers—thereby contributing to the current problems in student loan servicing.”

“We are deeply troubled that millions of dedicated public servants may not obtain the loan forgiveness that they deserve if the Department does not act quickly to correct program implementation issues,” the Members continue.

Members also requested a timeline for implementing each GAO recommendation, a copy of the Department’s corrective action plan, and further details about the Department’s plan to reach out to all Direct Loan borrowers about PSLF and to fully digitize the employment certification and application process. It is critical that Congress have this information as authorizers of the program and to make any potential legislative corrections.

To read the full text of the letter, click here.

To read more about the GAO report entitled, “Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Education Needs to Provide Better Information for the Loan Servicer and Borrowers,” click here and here.

Polis serves on the Committee on Education and the Workforce. He is the top-Democrat on the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee and a member of the Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee. Polis has introduced several bipartisan higher education bills addressing access and affordability through open source textbooks and student loan safeguards, among other proposals.

Polis is the former chair of the Colorado State Board of Education, and the founder and former superintendent of The New America School - a network of charter schools in several states serving new immigrants and English-language learners - as well as the Academy for Urban Learning for homeless and at-risk youth. The district he represents today includes Colorado State University and University of Colorado.

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Tags: Education

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