The Department of Education released executive actions regarding the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program on Oct. 6, intending to ease the application and approval process for borrowers working in public service. This announcement comes on the heels of a request for information the department published regarding ways to improve the PSLF program, which the AAMC responded to by highlighting its importance for our physician workforce [refer to Washington Highlights, Sept. 30].
In an accompanying fact sheet, the department noted, “The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a tremendous strain on public servants, making it even more critical that borrowers are able to access PSLF. … Frontline sectors like teaching and healthcare are already seeing burnout and employee shortages. Alleviating some of the financial strain associated with student debt can help borrowers in these sectors as they continue to navigate the fallout of this pandemic.”
To improve the PSLF program, the department announced that they will be:
- Implementing a limited PSLF waiver through Oct. 31, 2022, to count all prior payments made by student borrowers toward the PSLF program, regardless of federal loan program or repayment plan.
- Simplifying the PSLF application process by working with state and local organizations to improve the department’s database of qualifying employers and creating an option to sign PSLF applications digitally.
- Improving outreach and communication with PSLF-eligible borrowers by establishing an extensive PSLF awareness campaign that will highlight its benefit to borrowers and the necessary steps to have their loans qualify for the program.
- Reviewing previous PSFL denials and identifying and correcting errors in processing those borrowers’ applications.
- Eliminating barriers for military and federal employee borrowers by matching department data with information held by other federal agencies about service members and the federal workforce.
The department also announced that more long-term, substantive changes to the program would be addressed in the current negotiated rule-making session.