Today, hundreds of thousands of professors and other campus workers face financial uncertainty. Faculty were promised student loan forgiveness in exchange for years of service to our communities and our country. But after rising time and again to meet unprecedented financial challenges for our colleges, faculty have been denied debt relief and left behind.
This week, for the first time ever, the US Department of Education is asking for borrowers to share their stories about public service and debt forgiveness. This is our chance to make the case directly to President Biden and Secretary Cardona that Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is broken, particularly for adjunct faculty, and that only sweeping action to deliver debt relief can right a decade of wrongs by the department and the student loan industry.
PSLF was created to alleviate the burden of student debt for dedicated public service workers. The idea was simple: work in public service for ten years and have your remaining student debt forgiven. Unfortunately, PSLF has been plagued by problems and abuse at every turn, with 98% of borrowers applying for forgiveness being rejected. Because of the program’s failures, some public service workers may not even know this student debt relief is available to us – or may be left out entirely if they cannot find full-time employment.
The department’s public inquiry into the PSLF program offers renewed hope for public service workers. For the first time, the federal government is asking those of us who depend on the program to help decide what comes next – and to shape the way the program will operate in the future.
Kaitlyn Vitez, AAUP Government Relations