debt forgiven

Hundreds of South Dakotans are wondering if the tens of thousands of dollars they owe on student debt that they were told would be forgiven after 10 years’ service to their communities, will actually be discharged. South Dakota News Watch Reporter Nick Lowrey has the story

Many South Dakotans, including teachers, police officers, employees at charitable organizations

and even members of the military have signed up to participate in the federal Public Service

Loan Forgiveness program.

Those public servants and teachers such as Jerica Slocum, who now owes the federal

government $20,000 more than she originally borrowed, are worried that they’ll be stuck paying

back a debt they wouldn’t owe if not for the promise of PSLF.

Created in 2007 under the George W. Bush Administration, the PSLF began as a way to

encourage college graduates to pursue public service by working in government or a charitable

non-profit such as the United Way.

The PSLF is supposed to forgive a person’s remaining student loan balances after they’ve

made 120 qualifying monthly payments, a period spanning roughly 10 years.

All 10 years must be spent working in public service.

But the program’s promise, so far, has largely gone un-kept.

The latest numbers from the U.S. Department of Education, which is responsible for the

program, show just 518 of the roughly 76,000 fully processed PSLF forgiveness applications

had been approved as of March 31, 2019.

Loan forgiveness was intended to help offset lower wages typically found in public service jobs.

As of March 2019, about 2.1 million people nationwide had their jobs and loans certified as

eligible for PSLF.

Confusion and miscommunication appears to have been rampant in the program.

A 2017 report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said borrowers often were giving

confusing, misleading or incomplete information.