Attorney General Ford Presses Secretary DeVos to Honor Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

November 22, 2019

Carson City, NV - Today, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford filed an amicus brief in support of public servants who were promised federal student loan debt forgiveness in exchange for 10 years of public service. After serving those 10 years, these public servants have been denied debt relief due to the U.S. Department of Education's mismanagement of the program.

 According to public servant borrowers and federal government reports, the U.S. Department of Education has committed pervasive errors in administering the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. As a result, less than one percent of all applicants have received relief. In his brief, AG Ford stressed the importance of the PSLF programs and asked the Court to review closely borrowers' specific allegations.

 "As attorney general, I lead a team of public servants, and believe strongly that those who commit their lives to public service deserve the financial relief promised to them," said AG Ford. "Many borrowers are relying on this program, and now face a mountain of debt with compound interest because of the Department's poor management."

The PSLF program allows borrowers who pay down their loans while working for 10 years in a qualifying public service job, such as teachers, law enforcement officers and members of the military, to have the remainder of their federal direct student loans forgiven. This program gives public servants the chance to pass up higher, private sector salaries and still pay off their student debt.

 In Nevada, a first-year teacher in the Clark County School District makes $41,863; a first-year teacher in Washoe County School District makes $38,622. The Institute for College Access & Success estimated the average student loan debt in Nevada in 2017 was $22,064. PSLF has the potential to allow teachers to begin a career in education while still paying off their loans. According to Department of Education reports, more than one million Americans intend to apply for PSLF. Nearly two-thirds of these individuals had annual salaries of less than $50,000. However, the Department of Education has denied relief to more than 99 percent of applicants. The first PSLF borrowers became eligible for forgiveness in October 2017. Since then, 90,962 people have applied for loan discharge pursuant to PSLF, but only 845 people have received it.

 Federal government reports conceded that the Department of Education made pervasive errors, including mistakes in record-keeping, providing inaccurate information to borrowers, steering borrowers to take actions that made them ineligible, and failing to explain why applications were denied. In this lawsuit, student borrowers claim that these types of errors led the Department to deny their PSLF applications. In his brief, AG Ford asks the Court to thoroughly review these borrowers' claims to determine whether they should have the opportunity to prove their case.

 In addition to Nevada, other states and territory participating in this brief include: California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.