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July 23, 2019

Legal Education Advocates Seek Data & Stories About Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Much of the advocacy for legal education centers around student loans and specifically loan forgiveness given to those who serve the public. This advocacy uses data and stories to inform Congress and the Administration of the importance of the loan forgiveness program. We need your help!

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program offers partial student loan forgiveness in exchange for a service commitment of at least 10 years. Borrowers must be in qualifying jobs, have qualifying federal Direct Loans, be in a qualifying repayment plan, and make a decade of timely payments.

Congress and President George W. Bush created the PSLF program in 2007. Because PSLF necessitates a serious commitment to a decade of public service and 120 on-time loan repayments,  actual loan forgiveness under the program was not available until after October, 2017.

Less than a year before forgiveness became available—before any statistics were even available regarding program performance—PSLF came under attack.

The attack has taken several forms:

·         First, President Barack Obama sought to cut the program dramatically.

·         Second, President Trump sought to eliminate the program.

·         Third, in 2018 then-U.S. House Education & the Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Fox attempted to move legislation through her committee that would have ended the program.

·         Fourth, in 2019 the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee is seeking to end the program in discussions about reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

The ABA is now crowd-sourcing data collection with our partners in the Coalition to Preserve PSLF. Our coalition includes nurses, teachers, veterinarians, social workers, first responders, doctors, food safety professionals, special education professionals, police and corrections officers, and more. We are all doing our part to obtain data on PSLF. For example, our ally the National Legal Aid and Defender Association polled its membership and received 3,369 responses. Now it is our turn.

With a membership of over 400,000, the American Bar Association, one of the world’s largest professional associations, seeks a robust response to this survey from legal professionals. Your help is critical. The survey is only about 20 questions and is written to be taken with ease.

Billions of dollars are at stake in the coming decade. This data collection is critical to our advocacy.

In addition to the data, the final step is the individual stories of lawyers. Stories are particularly effective with Members of Congress and the Administration. If you are willing to be contacted about your experience with PSLF, our profession and many others would be grateful. Please click here to take the quick survey. 

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