Public Service Loan Forgiveness


Advocate Now

Help preserve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF), which enables law school graduates and other professionals to embark upon, and remain in, less remunerative public service careers by offering partial student loan forgiveness for a service commitment of ten years.

PSLF Overview

The federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program was created in 2007 in response to the concerns of public sector employers over their difficulties attracting and retaining skilled professionals to fill chronically vacant positions. The program provides employers an invaluable resource by lowering the primary barrier keeping new graduates from pursuing public service careers – student loan debt. An advanced degree frequently is a condition of professional licensure, as it is for lawyers, but the higher student debt incurred in obtaining these degrees effectively prevents borrowers from accepting or staying in low-paying public service jobs.

ABA's Position

The ABA opposes efforts to make substantive changes to PSLF that undermine the purpose of the program, absent hard data. We agree that there are some places language could be tightened, and we will consider efforts to reach compromise with opponents, but not to the extent it undermines the purpose of the program in the first place

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Eligibility for PSLF

Lawyers often incur significant student loan debt that deters them from lower-paying public service jobs. Without PSLF, law school graduates considering public service would face 20 years or more of student loan payments, during which time their loan balance would increase. These men and women would further need to forego major life decisions and expenses, all in the name of pursuing laudable careers.

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Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness

About the program: Created to address widespread confusion or erroneous guidance to borrowers by the Department of Education and loan servicers, the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) program offers relief to borrowers on a first-come, first-served basis by repaying student loans that would be discharged under PSLF but-for the borrower being entered into the wrong student loan repayment option.

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PSLF on the Hill

The Higher Education Act

Many Members of the 116th Congress want to make changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program -- ranging from an expansion of the program to its elimination -- and the primary vehicle for making changes to PSLF is through the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA). HEA is renewed every five years, but the last successful reauthorization was in 2008 -- it is long overdue. Last Congress, House legislation would have sunsetted the program, but it never made it to the House floor for a vote and in the Senate, the Committee did not produce its bill. The 116th Congress has not seen much more progress, although the change in party control of the House of Representatives has taken issues in a different direction.

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U.S. Department of Ed Settlement

On February 18, 2020, in settlement of its dispute with the American Bar Association (ABA), the Department of Education sent to the ABA a letter confirming that all full-time ABA employees were in positions eligible for PSLF benefits. You can read more here.

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Contact Us

To contact the ABA staff member, Kenneth Goldsmith who works on issues with PSLF, click here.