Last year, Congress members approved the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) program. It set aside $700 million to help dismiss, shrink, and alleviate student loan debt belonging to people who accrued their debt in pursuit of a career that serves the public. Common applicants to the program include nurses and teachers, for example.
However, Congress and the Department of Education (DOE) seem to be at odds over the purpose of TEPSLF because only 1% of all applicants from May 2018 to May 2019 were approved by the DOE. Only 661 applications were approved out of the approximate 54,00 received in that time period. About 4% of the program’s allotted funds were used as a result of the unexpectedly harsh review and approval process.
Why Were So Many Applicants Rejected?
To earn a chance at student loan forgiveness, debtors must first make an honest effort to repay their debt. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF) and its expanded form are worded to suggest that the longer an applicant has paid a portion of their student loan debt and been responsible with their finances, the more likely they are to be approved for relief.
It was only until after applicants were rejected that the rules of the relief program became clearer. Only highly specific debts on certain repayment plans can qualify for TEPSLF approval. The number of eligible applicants was therefore much smaller than originally anticipated.
Various other loopholes implemented by the DOE have also frustrated applicants and Congress members alike. For example, someone can be denied by TEPSLF simply because they never applied for the baseline PSLF program. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates nearly three-fourths of all TEPSLF program denials were caused by this unforeseen loophole. Upon discovering this overwhelming issue, the GAO also expressed displeasure with the Department of Education, saying it had “not created a borrower-friendly TEPSLF process […]”
You can learn more about this ongoing issue with the country’s methods of student borrower debt relief by clicking here and viewing a full article from NPR. If you have been harassed by creditors who are chasing you for your student loan debt, call (312) 313-1613. Atlas Consumer Law in Chicago is here to help you understand your rights as someone living with debt, and how you can fight back when creditors and collection agencies take their methods too far.