A Boost for Student Veterans: Courtney’s Bill to Ensure Military Service is Fully Counted Towards Student Loan Forgiveness is Included in the Build Back Better Act
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02) announced that his bipartisan bill to provide financial support to American servicemembers was officially included in the House Education and Labor Committee’s portion of the Build Back Better Act. The Build Back Better Act fulfills the goals laid out in the President’s Build Back Better Plan, and it now contains Rep. Courtney’s effort to finally enable American servicemembers to count the full length of their time of deployment overseas as “qualifying payments” to secure loan discharge under the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Courtney and the House Education and Labor Committee voted to advance their portion of the Build Back Better Act this afternoon by a margin of 28-22.
“Passage of this measure is the result of support from service members and veterans in eastern Connecticut and across the country to make sure that answering our nation’s call to serve overseas does not delay earned discharge,” said Congressman Courtney. “According to the Department of Defense, at any given time, 10,000 service members are overseas while carrying an average of $13,000 in debt incurred prior to enlistment. Counting their months overseas as ‘qualifying payments’ will provide real, tangible relief to them and their families. Over the last month, I have worked with the U.S. Department of Education, the Congressional Research Service, and the Congressional Budget Office to insert this provision into the Build Back Better legislation. There are still a few more hurdles to clear until the bill becomes final, and I am working with House Leadership and with Senator Hassan of New Hampshire to get this measure to the President’s desk.”
Rep. Courtney is a senior member of the Education and Labor Committee, and has been working for months to secure this financial support for American student-veterans. Although they are currently eligible for PSLF, existing rules prevent many active duty servicemembers who have deployed far away from their families from applying their full period of service towards PSLF—meaning that they are made to complete a longer period of service before qualifying for student loan forgiveness. In May, Courtney led the bipartisan introduction of the Recognizing Military Service in PSLF Act (H.R. 3486), a bill to remedy this policy and allow servicemembers and National Guard members to take full advantage of PSLF. Courtney’s bill drew support from both sides of the aisle, and from nationwide Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) including the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the Student Veterans of America (SVA), Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and more. Now, following completion of Education and Labor Committee’s markup, the Build Back Better Act includes Rep. Courtney’s bill and would finally get the job done.
Click here to read more about how the Build Back Better Act would benefit eastern Connecticut’s families, students, schools, and workforce.