Swalwell Introduces Bill to Reduce Student Debt for Public Servants

July 14, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) today introduced the Strengthening Forgiveness for Public Servants Act to enhance the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLFP), which offers student loan forgiveness to teachers, police officers, public health workers and others who dedicate their careers to public service.

The PSLFP provides student loan forgiveness after qualified borrowers make 120 full, scheduled, monthly payments while employed full-time in public service. Swalwell’s bill would let new PSLFP participants have their eligible Direct Loans deferred while they work in public service and receive loan forgiveness in proportion to their years of public service – after every two years, they would have a certain percentage of their eligible balance cancelled.

“The PSLFP takes too long to help most young people with student debt,” said Swalwell. “This bill does more to encourage graduates to serve their communities while helping to relieve the burden of student debt along the way.”

The bill is a companion to S. 2463, introduced in January by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Swalwell introduced this bill with six members of the Future Forum, a group he founded in 2015 that has traveled across the nation to talk with millennials about issues, like student debt, that matter most to them.

During a recent Future Forum visit, a student expressed that she hoped to enter public service to contribute to her community, but a low salary coupled with thousands in student debt held her back from pursuing her dream. She said that the PSLFP does not do enough to incentivize public service for many with mounting student debt; it’s an all-or-nothing proposition in that someone leaving public service after nine years and 11 months would receive no benefit at all. Swalwell introduced the Strengthening Forgiveness for Public Servants Act to address this problem and give thousands of hard-working graduates committed to serving their communities student debt relief.

“Too often, young people must mortgage their futures for a chance at a college education,” said Blumenthal. “The student loan crisis is especially acute for public servants – including teachers, police officers, and public health workers – who are left drowning in debt to pay for the degrees many such jobs require. Today, I am pleased to have Representative Swalwell introduce a House companion to my bill, which strengthens, expands, and gives more flexibility to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. We should reward public service—particularly as the need for talented and dedicated public servants grows.”