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Calls to Extend Waiver Simplifying Public-Worker Student-Loan Forgiveness

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Tuesday, August 23, 2022   

A streamlined process for erasing public-sector employees' student debt is expiring soon. State officials, including in Washington, are calling for the federal government to extend it.

Last year, the Biden administration issued a waiver for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which made it easier for people to qualify. The waiver lasts until Oct. 31.

Stephanie Sampedro, student loan advocate for the Washington Student Achievement Council, said the administration is implementing new regulations for the program reflecting the waiver changes, but they will not go into effect until next year.

"You have this wide gap from Oct. 31 until July 1 of next year, where people are just kind of stuck," Sampedro pointed out. "They don't yet qualify, and they might have to wait, and we're just concerned it's going to cause a whole lot of confusion."

Under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, student debt is forgiven after 10 years of consistent payments. More than a third of the country's attorneys general, including Bob Ferguson in Washington state, have signed a letter to the Biden administration asking for an extension of the waiver. Sampedro and six other state student-loan ombuds have also signed a letter calling for an extension.

Sampedro said she and other ombuds have been in contact with the U.S. Department of Education and identified another reason to extend the waiver.

"They've only just recently in the last two or three months seen an increase in consolidations for the purpose of public-service loan forgiveness," Sampedro stressed.

She pointed out people still have to verify their employment in the public sector after consolidation.

Sampedro added people who have devoted their careers to public service are not earning as much as they would in the private sector.

"Because of that, Congress created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to thank public employees for devoting their careers to serving the public," Sampedro explained.


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