Biden forgives student loans for an additional 78,000 public service workers

AFSCME President Lee Saunders praised the White House’s announcement Thursday that the Biden administration will forgive student loans for an additional 78,000 borrowers — including many AFSCME members — under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

“Once again, Joe Biden is showing his respect for AFSCME members and the essential work we do. His latest step … will transform the lives of those who have dedicated their careers to helping others, giving them peace of mind that they can support their families while continuing to do the jobs they love,” Saunders said.

Biden said that nurses, teachers, firefighters and other public service workers deserve to have their loans forgiven because they never got the relief they were entitled to under PSLF. Thursday’s announcement aims to change that by forgiving some $6 billion in student loans.

“These public service workers have dedicated their careers to serving their communities, but because of past administrative failures, never got the relief they were entitled to under the law,” Biden said. “Because of the fixes my administration has made, we have now cancelled student debt for over 870,000 public service workers — compared to only about 7,000 public service borrowers ever receiving forgiveness prior to my administration.”

The U.S. Department of Education will cancel student debt for PSLF-eligible borrowers who have been repaying their loans for 10 years while working in public service. Eligible borrowers will receive an email from Biden informing them their loans are forgiven.

An additional 380,000 public service workers will also get an email from Biden informing them they are on track to have their debt cancelled through PSLF within two years, according to the Education Department.

“Biden’s leadership on student debt relief is also helping to alleviate the burden of short staffing that affects AFSCME members and the communities we serve every day,” Saunders said. “By removing the anxieties that come with crippling student loan debt, more qualified individuals will be encouraged to pursue a career in public service and stay for the long haul. We look forward to continuing to work with the Biden administration to deliver progress for working people.”  

The Biden administration’s actions to fix PSLF to date have already provided huge relief to some AFSCME members. Our union has fought alongside the administration to address the burden of student debt and to repair the broken PSLF program, which was meant to encourage public service work with the promise of having the balance of federal direct student loans forgiven after a decade of repayments.

To learn more about PSLF and other resources for AFSCME members, please visit AFSCME’s student debt resource page.