WASHINGTON—AFT President Randi Weingarten issued the following statement in response to congressional Democrats’ report on Public Service Loan Forgiveness and their letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos demanding immediate action to address her department’s gross mismanagement of the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness program:
“Thousands of educators, nurses, military veterans and other public employees have dedicated their careers to helping others, thinking the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program was going to help them pay off their loans in return. Instead, 99 percent of those who’ve applied have been denied the opportunity to have their debt forgiven after 10 years, caught in a horribly broken and mismanaged system that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos refuses to fix. We sued her this summer on their behalf, and now, thankfully, congressional Democrats have stepped in to call foul and make clear that the Department of Education bears a responsibility to better manage PSLF—and Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Democrats’ attempt to further bail out the program—so that it actually benefits, rather than hurts, the people it was supposed to help.
“Today’s report and the letter to DeVos make clear: Student loan borrowers are paying more than they should for longer than they should because the secretary and her gang have put the interests of student loan servicing companies before the interests of borrowers, protecting her corporate cronies’ ability to make a profit instead of protecting access to debt relief for people who need it. The report tells the stories of many educators—including that of New York City art teacher Kelly Finlaw, an AFT member and one of the plaintiffs in Weingarten v. DeVos. Finlaw testified recently before the House Education and Labor Committee to share the story of how she, like so many others, tried to enroll in the program and was denied. DeVos and her agency must be held accountable for the mess they’ve created and must work with Congress on a solution.
“As America’s student debt burden balloons to $1.7 trillion and prevents working people from being able to retire, buy homes, or pursue higher education in the first place, the time for action is now.”