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Gillibrand To Senate: Correct 'Mismanaged' Loan Forgiveness Program For Public Workers

J.D. Allen/WSHU
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has urged the Republican-controlled Senate to include measures that bolster a student loan forgiveness program for public workers in the next round of federal coronavirus relief.

Gillibrand said less than one percent of eligible public workers who applied for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program received relief last year. The federal program helps students who choose careers in public service to have their loans forgiven after 10 years of federal, state or local government employment.

Credit J.D. Allen/WSHU
Rukhsar Asfe, a student at Stony Brook University, works for a nonprofit that makes her eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. But she said it's unattainable.

Rukhsar Asfe studies social welfare at Stony Brook University and works for an eligible nonprofit. She joined Gillibrand on Monday to ask Congress for help on reforming the program.

“The process was draining and my [federal] loan providers could not seem to give me clear answers," Asfe said.

"After attempting to get the information many times, and between the demands of work and school, I stopped trying.”

Gillibrand, a Democrat, blamed the U.S. Department of Education for mismanaging the the program.

“The failures of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program are only making the current situation much worse, adding unnecessary pain and burdens to people who have done the right thing. These public servants have lived up to their end of the bargain — now it’s time for the government to live up to its end.”

She said she wants the Senate to make sure clerical errors in the program are fixed, require clearer guidance for borrowers and simplify the process to help get more eligible public workers out of debt.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.