May 20, 2020

Senators Introduce Legislation to Expand & Improve Public Service Loan Forgiveness Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Bill Text (PDF)


Washington, D.C. – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), along with a group of eight senators, to introduce the Strengthening Loan Forgiveness for Public Servants During the COVID-19 Crisis Act, legislation that would provide student debt relief to public health workers, police officers, and others who dedicate their careers to public service. Many of these public servants have been playing a central role in helping communities across the country respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The bill expands the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLFP) to provide meaningful student debt relief to those in public service. It would eliminate uncertainty for borrowers, and further incentivize public service by allowing borrowers to receive forgiveness for their loans in qualifying intervals. It also provides support for public servants and frontline workers whose employment may have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 


“One way we can support our nation’s most dedicated public servants, many of whom are on the front lines of this crisis, is by strengthening the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program,” said Senator Warren. “We owe it to our nurses, teachers, first responders, and other public servants to get them the student loan forgiveness Congress promised them.” 


“For all who are risking lives and making untold sacrifices, what better way of saying thanks than to relieve the crushing weight of student debt,” said Senator Blumenthal. “This step, expanding opportunities to alleviate financially crippling burdens, is a win-win for them and our nation. These public servants have earned every dime of this recognition.”


This legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai’i), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).


“We want to help people who dedicate themselves to public service—like teachers, police officers and public health workers in Minnesota and states across the country—by expanding the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program,” said Senator Smith. “Our legislation would help provide student debt relief to these workers, and focuses on supporting public servants and frontline workers whose employment may have been affected by the pandemic.”


“No individual willing to serve their community in a public service career should be held back from their calling due to the high cost of paying off their student loans,” said Senator Cardin. “This legislation reinforces our commitment to those front-line public service employees, as well as ensuring that they will be held harmless if laid off by an employer as a result of COVID-19 related revenue losses.”


“A powerful way for us to show our gratitude to the public servants on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis is to provide them much needed relief from student debt,” said Senator Markey. “This legislation is a powerful signal that public service is rewarding in terms of contribution to our country and loan forgiveness. I am proud to join Senator Blumenthal and my colleagues in introducing this important bill.”


“Now more than ever, we’re seeing just how much we rely on the work of first responders, police officers and health care workers,” said Senator Feinstein. “Supporting these and other public servants by bolstering the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is a commonsense measure that will make a real financial difference for thousands of people. We also must ensure that any public servant who loses their job due to the pandemic will still qualify for loan forgiveness while the pandemic continues and be able to continue receiving credit once they return to work. I’m proud to join my colleagues on this bill.”


The bill is one of Senator Warren’s efforts to ensure that public servants receive the relief they deserve:


  • In October 2019, Senator Warren led Senate Democrats in a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos demanding that the Department of Education take immediate action to rectify serious flaws in their management of the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (TEPSLF).

  • In April 2019, Senator Warren joined Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and 12 other senators in introducing the What You Can Do For Your Country Act of 2019, new legislation that would overhaul the flawed PSLF program and ensure millions of teachers, social workers, members of the military, first responders, nurses, public defenders, and many other public service professionals will qualify for the loan forgiveness they have earned.  

  • Also in April 2019, Senator Warren led her colleagues in writing to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Kathy Kraninger requesting further information on the CFPB's oversight of the student loan industry, and, specifically, the activity of student loan companies and servicers involved in the administration of the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.