Welcome to Student Loan News, a weekly summary of developments and events affecting college debt in the U.S. Join us each Friday for a look at goings-on that could affect your own student loan situation.
PSLF: Many are called, but few are forgiven
The latest numbers on Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) are out, covering through the end of September, and results are once again disappointing for those hoping to get their student loans discharged.
PSLF may be among the best-known student loan forgiveness programs, allowing people who work in government, nonprofits or other types of public service to have their student loans forgiven after 10 years of consecutive, qualifying payments.
Since the program began in October 2007, the earliest anyone could have qualified was October 2017. But while it’s been more than a year since the first PSLF applicants became eligible to wipe away their remaining loan balances, few have been able to do so.
According to the new Department of Education data, more than 41,000 borrowers had applied for forgiveness as of Sept. 30, but only 206 have had their loans discharged.
The government has said that part of the problem is because PSLF also requires enrollment in an income-driven repayment plan, and those were much rarer in the early years of PSLF.
But at the same time, many would-be participants who learned only too late that they weren’t eligible feel cheated after making education and career choices with PSLF in mind, as a Thursday USA Today report notes.
Some borrowers are taking matters into their own hands. For example, CNBC reports that a Florida psychologist is suing her loan servicer for allegedly assuring her she would qualify, only to tell her years later that her debt wasn’t eligible.
Addressing hunger on campus
As any college student knows, the price of higher education is much more than just tuition. And if you have no income or savings, one cost you’ll need to cover is food. In fact, not having enough to eat has become a big enough issue for students that some schools in New Jersey are opening their own food pantries to help fight food security, the North Jersey Record reports.
There are now more than 20 such pantries in colleges across the state, from Rutgers University to Ramapo College, the report says. And other programs are cropping up, such as one offering food vouchers for use at ShopRite and Stop & Shop. Meanwhile, New Jersey lawmakers are considering a bill to help fund food programs for schools dedicated to being “hunger-free campuses.”
Worried about the government shutdown?
A partial government shutdown kicked off last week as the White House and Congress remained locked in a spending impasse. If you’re waiting to get your student loans disbursed, though, breathe easy: The Department of Education is not part of the closures.
If you want to see what is affected — and how it affects you — check out this explainer.
Catching up on student loan news
Remember when the government’s student loan ombudsman quit in protest? Or when details of the Navient audit came out? If the student loan crisis is important to you, or if you just want to keep up with information about your own college debt, check out this roundup of some of the big student loan news stories of 2018.
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