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Bonamici Shares Oregonians’ Challenges with Flawed Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

September 19, 2019
Press Release


WASHINGTON, DC [05/19/19] Today during a House Education and Labor Committee hearing Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) shared the experiences of Oregonians who are struggling to receive student loan forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) .


The hearing examined the failed implementation and empty promise of PSLF and Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF), which have denied forgiveness to nearly 99 percent of applicants. PSLF was intended to forgive the balance of student loans after borrowers complete 10 years of qualified public service and make 120 qualifying loan payments.


Bonamici, who is Chair of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services, gathered the compelling stories during a recent roundtable discussion in Portland. The participants were all striving toward public service loan forgiveness.


A video of Bonamici’s remarks in the committee can be found here.


“What I heard [at the roundtable in Portland] was stress, uncertainty, and a feeling that these borrowers have upheld their share of the bargain,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “They told me about putting off getting married, putting off home ownership, and putting off starting families – all because of the burden of student debt. And they spoke of their passion for public service.


“One of these borrowers, Sawyer, served in the military. She found out after paying her loans for eight years that she was in the wrong repayment plan. She had to start all over again on her 120 payments... Some were told they needed to consolidate their loans to participate, and others were told they didn’t qualify because they consolidated their loans. Many lost years of payments.”


In recent weeks, Bonamici has been circulating a survey about student loan debt. The survey has drawn more than 700 responses so far, with many of the participants mentioning serious concerns about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.