Under new action, 550,000 borrowers working in government and non-profit sectors—like first responders, nurses and teachers—are eligible to have their student debt wiped out after they’ve made monthly payments for ten years.
Executive Director of the Student Borrower Protection Center Seth Frotman said, “These are the teachers who teach our kids in the classroom. These are the people who take care of our sick relatives.”
After calling for changes for years, advocates like the Student Borrower Protection Center are welcoming the announcement, saying the overhaul was long overdue.
“This program has been broken,” Frotman said. “More than nine out of every 10 borrowers have been rejected and this has been going on for years.”
The program, created by Congress in 2007, has been criticized for being difficult to navigate and riddled with problems including confusion about eligibility requirements.
According to the Education Department, just over 16,000 borrowers have ever received forgiveness under the program before this overhaul.
“When there is a 90-plus percent denial rate for a program, it’s not borrowers who were making mistakes, it’s not individual folks who were doing something wrong,” Frotman said. “It was a system that had failed them.”
Among the requirements: borrowers must have worked for the government or certain non-profit organizations for ten years and must make 120 on-time monthly payments for 10 years to have the remaining balance canceled. They must have loans made directly by the federal government and, finally, they must be enrolled in specific repayment plans.