WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) questioned Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos during a Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee where she underscored the importance of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program for Granite Staters.
The PSLF program helps those who commit their careers to public service by promising to forgive their federal student loans after 10 years. President Trump’s budget proposal for FY2021 would eliminate the program, and the administration has denied as many as 99 percent of borrowers’ claims for debt relief.
The PSFL program was created in 2008 and commits to participants that if they work for 10 years in public service and stay current on their student loan payments, the remainder of their debt will be forgiven. Shaheen highlighted how important this program is to New Hampshire residents and shared a story from Claremont, New Hampshire:
Several years ago I went to school to get my masters in social work in an effort to do more for my community.…I graduated with a Masters in Social Work in 2008 and have been paying ever since.... I eventually entered the loan forgiveness program and as of right now I believe I have five years left as long as I continue to meet requirements…In 2015 I was diagnosed with MS [Multiple Sclerosis].…I thought I was seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. That perhaps in five years my loan would be forgiven... Without the loan forgiveness program I will surely be working to pay this loan off until I am dead.
Shaheen argued how critical this program is for New Hampshire to attract and retain workers in rural parts of the state, explaining, “In rural New Hampshire, we can’t get social workers. We can’t get health care workers. We can’t get so many of the people that we need in order to maintain our communities and keep people there and keep them healthy and having opportunities. So having incentives to attract them is something that’s really important...”
She rebuked DeVos’ defense for eliminating the program, stating, “I want people to get the best jobs that they can, paying the most that they can. But if they want a job that is going to help a community, that’s going to help the state of New Hampshire, that’s going to help the country—and we can incentivize them to do that—then I think that’s in the public interest.”