Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General
202 North Ninth Street
For media inquiries only, contact:
Charlotte Gomer, Director of Communication
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING PRAISES BIDEN ADMINISTRATION FOR STRENGTHENING PUBLIC SERVICE LOAN FORGIVENESS PROGRAM
~ Herring had urged U.S. Department of Education to fix broken PSLF program and provide hardworking public servants with student loan relief ~
RICHMOND – Attorney General Mark R. Herring is praising the Biden Administration's and the U.S. Department of Education's (DOE) plan to overhaul the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program, that will provide more hardworking public servants with much needed student loan relief. Today, DOE announced that it will make transformational changes to the PSLF program and put more than 550,000 public service workers closer to student loan forgiveness. This move comes after Attorney General Herring urged DOE to take robust action to fix the broken PSLF program.
"Virginia's public servants play a crucial role in keeping our communities safe and healthy, educating our children, and making sure our government is running smoothly,” said Attorney General Herring. "Many of these educators, healthcare providers, social workers, first responders, public sector attorneys, and others took out student loans in order to dedicate their lives to working on behalf of Virginians, and they deserve the student loan relief they were promised. I want to thank the Department of Education for hearing our concerns and taking immediate action to fix the broken PSLF program, providing relief to many Virginians who help our Commonwealth run every day.”
Previously, since borrowers became eligible for relief in 2017, almost all PSLF applications had been rejected, leaving millions of public servants in the lurch. These teachers, nurses, public interest attorneys, social workers, first responders, servicemembers, and others incurred significant student loan debt in order to gain the skills necessary to educate, heal, and protect our communities – under the promise that a portion of those loans would eventually be forgiven. In the letter Attorney General Herring and his colleagues sent to DOE, the coalition applauded DOE's commitment to improving implementation of the PSLF program and urged DOE to act quickly to fix the failures in the program's administration.
A bipartisan Congress created the PSLF program in 2007 to encourage student loan borrowers to enter public service jobs in return for forgiving the remaining balance of their federal student loans after ten years of on-time loan payments. When the first wave of borrowers applied for loan forgiveness in 2017, DOE denied applicants at the alarming rate of 99 percent. In 2018, a bipartisan Congress gave DOE a second chance to deliver on PSLF's critical promise by creating the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) program. Despite this emergency fix, relief continued to be out of reach for nearly all who applied. Before these planned changes, DOE had denied 96% of TEPSLF applications.
Herring's Previous Work Fighting to Protect Student Borrowers
Attorney General Herring has made protecting student borrowers a top priority during his time in office. Earlier this year, he called for the cancellation of up to $50,000 in federal student debt owed by each and every federal student loan borrower nationwide. During the Trump Administration, he fought many of the changes Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education made that harmed student borrowers, including challenging the unlawful changes made to the Borrower Defense Rule.
He has also taken major actions against for-profit colleges for misleading students. In 2015, for-profit education company Education Management Corporation announced it would significantly reform its recruiting and enrollment practices and forgive more than $2.29 million in loans for approximately 2,000 former students in Virginia through an agreement with Attorney General Herring and a group of state attorneys general. In 2016, Attorney General Herring announced that more than 5,000 Virginia students formerly enrolled in schools operated by Corinthian Colleges may be eligible for loan forgiveness, after it was found that Corinthian Colleges and its subsidiaries published misleading job placement rates for many of its programs. And in 2019, he reached a settlement with for-profit education company Career Education Corporation (CEC), that required CEC to reform its recruiting and enrollment practices and forgo collecting about $493.7 million in debts owed by 179,529 students nationally. In Virginia, 3,094 students will receive relief totaling $8,022,178.
Most recently, following Attorney General Herring's supportive comments, the SCC adopted regulations that implemented the newly passed "bill of rights” for Virginia student borrowers - laws that protect borrowers by regulating student loan servicers in Virginia. The SCC specifically noted in its order that the Attorney General's comments influenced their decision saying, "[w]e have considered all the comments filed in this matter, including those from the Attorney General, which we find persuasive.” And the OAG has authority under these new laws to investigate claims of misconduct by student loan servicers and can take action when appropriate.
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