Student loan debt is by most accounts out of control. Many people all over the country are saddled with more student loan debt than they can possibly pay off. Luckily, some public service professions offer student loan forgiveness after a certain number of years. Teaching is supposed to be one of those professions. However, many teachers have had trouble getting their loans forgiven.
Congress passed the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program in 2007. If the program works as intended, student loan borrowers that work in public service jobs like teaching can get their loans forgiven after 10 years of payments. This program sounds great in theory, but many teachers are claiming the program is not being implemented properly or widely enough…and the data seemingly backs them up.
The Department of Education has rejected around 99 percent of the debt forgiveness applications thus far. This means only around one percent of applicants have succeeded in getting their loans forgiven.
The program also applies to nurses, public defenders, military personnel, and other types of public servants. According to government reports, people in those jobs aren’t faring much better in getting their loans forgiven either.
But in the case of the educators, the American Federation of Teachers is claiming the Department of Education under Betsy DeVos is improperly rejecting the applications of teachers seeking loan forgiveness.
Most of the applications have been dismissed because the borrowers didn’t meet the eligibility requirements. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos blames the lack of forgiveness on Congress for making such a narrow set of requirements for eligibility.
The program was passed in 2007, so 2017 was the first time anyone could actually apply to have their loans forgiven under the 10-year program. But, some people were worried about the strict requirements and the potential of mass rejections prior to the actual program maturing.
The American Federation of Teachers is asking the court to approve all of the borrowers listed in the case as well as force the Department of Education to institute a better way to process the applications and have more transparency around final decisions.