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Rep. Courtney Hosts AG Tong & Others to Highlight Secretary Betsy DeVos’s Mismanagement of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

July 22, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) was joined by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong; John Brady, Vice President of American Federation for Teachers—Connecticut (AFT-CT); David Hayes, Treasurer of AFT-CT and an educator in Bristol; and Matthew Smith, Director of Government Relations and Consumer Affairs at the Connecticut Department of Banking, to highlight the ongoing mismanagement of the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program under Secretary Betsy DeVos, and to call attention to current issues facing borrowers in Connecticut who have sought to utilize the program.

At the event, Rep. Courtney noted a recent lawsuit filed by AFT against ED for their failure to properly administer the PSLF program, and cited recent reports which found that although many public service employees have been diligently making payments on their student loans and should therefore be eligible for loan forgiveness, only a paltry 1% of PSLF applicants have been granted loan forgives to date.

“The Department […] has done basically everything they can to confuse people, to mislead people, and at the end of the day to deny people the opportunity get this benefit,” said Congressman Courtney. “We know the universe of people who are eligible for this is much larger.”

Rep. Courtney encouraged residents who have been denied eligibility for PSLF to “not take ‘no’ for an answer,” and to contact the Connecticut Department of Banking, their Member of Congress, or to visit his PSLF information page online to ensure that they are being given all the necessary information to successfully navigate the program. He went on to state that the House Education & Labor Committee will consider a higher education reauthorization bill in the coming months that seeks to make improvements to the PSLF program, including expanding the scope of eligible professions and improving oversight.

“Predatory lenders are looking for loopholes and technicalities to deny teachers, nurses, and first responders access [to the PSLF program],” said David Hayes, AFT. “Nobody ever expected to get rich teaching, as we always say, but we do expect them to keep their promises. And they’re not doing that. […] Teachers are leaving the profession at an alarming rate—enrollment in teacher prep programs is down. This doesn’t help.”

“Congress is reneging on the contract it made with millions—more than a million are eligible—millions of American student loan borrowers, and thousands here in Connecticut. more than,” said AG Tong of ED’s failure to properly administer the PSLF program. “That’s why I want to thank the AFT for its leadership on this lawsuit. Congressman Courtney is pushing it at the regulatory and legislative level in Congress, and we’re doing our part here in Connecticut as part of a working group focused not just on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, but on student loan and borrower issues generally as part of a multi-state working group.”

“Before the Trump and DeVos Administration, the [Connecticut Department of Banking] would routinely work with the U.S. Department of Education in a lot of information sharing,” said Matthew Smith, Connecticut Department of Banking. “That has since stopped. It is the result of the Trump Administration cooperating with these student loan servicers, and being more attentive to their requests than they are to the consumers.”

Click here to watch this morning’s event.

The PSLF program was meant to attract more Americans to careers like teaching, public health, and law enforcement by providing those who work in these critical occupations a mechanism to discharge the balance of their student loan debt following at least ten years of consistent, on-time monthly payments. Last week, Congressman Courtney addressed the litany of problems surrounding the program in an address from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, citing reports which found that in recent years—as the first cohort of borrowers who have been dutifully paying off student loans for a decade have begun to become eligible to discharge the remaining balance on their loans through PSLF—less than 1% of applicants have actually had the balances of their loans discharged. Click here to watch Rep. Courtney’s full remarks from last week on the state of the PSLF program.

For more information on the PSLF program, including preliminary information on eligibility requirements, visit Congressman Courtney’s website.