I am calling on you to pledge your support for legislation to ensure that Congress honors the promise of student loan forgiveness for men and women serving in the armed forces. Currently, there is no guarantee that the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) will continue to exist, even for service members who have participated in the program for several years.  This is wrong. Legislation is required to guarantee that service members can take advantage of the PSLF program to forgive any remaining student loan debt after 10 years’ worth of qualifying monthly payments. I am asking you to pledge your support for such legislation.
The PSLF program was created in 2007 as both a way to address the growing problem of student loan indebtedness, and an incentive to attract people to public service jobs. Military service is perhaps the quintessential form of public service. Although the country relies on men and women in uniform to protect the freedoms we cherish, service members cannot rely on Congress to keep the promise of public service loan forgiveness. Aside from the above-mentioned lack of any guarantee that the PSLF program will continue to exist for participating service members (even for those who have made qualifying payments for several years), the PSLF program has been plagued with administrative hurdles. When participants first became eligible for loan forgiveness in 2017, less than 1% of applicants were approved. Widespread calls for the reform of the PSLF program have since emerged.
This is unacceptable. Too many have planned their lives around the promise of PSLF. I know. I am one of them.
I am an immigrant whose parents left everything behind so I can have better opportunities than they did. To me, that meant pursuing my education. I became the first in my family to earn an undergraduate degree, and went on to finish law school. In the process, I took on well over $100,000 in student loan debt, while working through college. I made major life decisions on the expectation of loan forgiveness through the PSLF program, without which I could not have joined the military, and likely could not have married my wife, bought a house, or had my daughter Aria.
I had many reasons for wanting to serve, but without the PSLF program I could never have afforded to do so. As part of the PSLF program, I am on an Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plan, which provides for reduced monthly payments based on disposable income. This has allowed me to serve my country while supporting my wife and daughter. I recently agreed to serve at least four more years so that I may transfer the educational benefits I earned through the post-911 G.I. Bill to my daughter. I want to make sure my daughter does not have to incur the same enormous debt I took on to finance my education. Through the PSLF program and the G.I. Bill, military service can be part of an effort to counteract the recently exposed inequities of advantage obtained through privilege.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is a way to recognize the hard work and contributions of those who serve, often from disadvantaged families, who lack the means to personally finance their education. I want to make sure that the PSLF program remains in place, at least for service members like me, because I know that without this program I would not be able to serve and support a family. I also want to make sure it remains in place long enough to be an incentive for public service for girls like my daughter Aria, who was born just last year. That’s why I’m calling on you to pass legislation to ensure that Congress keeps the promise of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program for service members. I would like to call this law Aria’s promise.
P.S.: If you think keeping the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program for service members is a worthwhile effort, you can support it by signing the petition on change.org and contributing at the GoFundMe page to finance the effort. Mailing letters to each of the 535 members of Congress will cost about $600. Any additional funds will be used to publicize the campaign.