EQUAL JUSTICE WORKS OPPOSES PROPOSED HIGHER EDUCATION ACT REAUTHORIZATION
On Friday, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce announced that the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program would be functionally eliminated under the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965. Established in 2007, PSLF allows borrowers to earn forgiveness on eligible Federal Direct Loans after both working full-time in a qualifying public service position and also completing ten years of on-time monthly loan payments. The HEA reauthorization proposed by Congress eliminates the loans and payment plans that qualify for PSLF, and as a result, essentially ends this vital program for our public servants.
“Equal Justice Works strongly opposes any measure to eliminate PSLF,” said David Stern, Executive Director of Equal Justice Works. “As an organization, we are dedicated to creating pathways to public service. PSLF allows thousands of public servants – prosecutors, police officers, firefighters, teachers, health professionals – who sacrifice their earning potential in the private sector to help others and support our country’s wellbeing. Eliminating PSLF is misguided and will undoubtedly put the health, safety, and stability of our communities at risk.”
Each year, public sector employers report difficulty in recruiting and retaining talented staff, leaving many Americans without critically needed services. According to the Legal Services Corporation, as reported by The New York Times, 80 percent of the legal needs of the poor go unmet in this country. PSLF has made quality legal representation far more accessible to low-income people across the country. A 2015 study by National Legal Aid and Defender Association found that 70 percent of respondents across the U.S. indicated that PSLF is one of the reasons they could take or remain in their current public interest law position.
“PSLF is an investment in our communities that has made long-term public service careers financially feasible,” said Isaac Bowers, Director of Law School Engagement & Advocacy at Equal Justice Works. “It is a vital program that has helped to recruit and retain public interest lawyers who work day in and day out to help those who struggle to afford legal representation. Without this program, we are at serious risk of losing smart, passionate lawyers who want to serve the greater good.”
Equal Justice Works provides support to public interest lawyers and helps law students learn more about all aspects of managing their student debt.