Swalwell & 16 Members of Congress Urge Student Loan Forgiveness for Lawrence Livermore, Sandia, other DOE Lab Employees

November 3, 2015
Press Release
Call for DoE Lab Employees to be eligible to participate in Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell (CA-15) sent a letter urging the Department of Education to make employees of privately operated Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which forgives the federal student loans of workers at qualified non-profit or government organizations after 10 years of full-time employment. While employees of some DOE labs are eligible for this loan forgiveness program, five labs, including Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories in Swalwell’s congressional district, are not because they are operated by for-profit companies.

“The employees of Department of Energy Labs like Sandia and Lawrence Livermore are committed public servants. These labs have a long history of scientific breakthroughs, but when faced with high student loan debt, some young scientists and engineers are forced to opt for more lucrative careers in the private sector,” said Swalwell. “It makes perfect sense to offer all DOE lab employees, regardless of how their lab is operated, the opportunity to participate in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Growing student loan debt should not be an impediment to the next generation of our best and brightest from devoting their careers to the critical endeavors of our DOE national labs.”

There are 16 DOE national labs operated by private entities nationwide.  These labs are operated by contractors but owned by the government with a public interest mission, such as nuclear security or energy independence. At least 70 percent of the labs’ funding must come from the federal government. 

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program was created in 2007 to incentivize public sector employment. The program forgives the remaining federal student loan balance of borrowers who work for qualified non-profits or government agencies and made 120 qualifying monthly payments on their loans.

Sixteen Members of Congress joined Rep. Swalwell on the letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, including Reps. Tony Cardenas, Judy Chu, Mark DeSaulnier, Anna G. Eshoo, Chaka Fattah, Bill Foster, Michael M. Honda, Sheila Jackson Lee, Marcy Kaptur, James R. Langevin, Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Ben Ray Lujan, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Ed Perlmutter, and Bonnie Watson Colman.

The letter can be viewed here.