The U.S. Department of Education will over the next year revamp a program that provides loan forgiveness to government and nonprofit workers, it announced Wednesday.
The extensive overhaul will make the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program “live up to its promise” and will immediately impact around 22,000 borrowers — all now able to receive loan forgiveness after previously being ineligible, according to the announcement. That’s more than $1.7 billion in loans forgiven.
“Teachers, nurses, first responders, service members and so many public service workers have had our back, especially amid the challenges of the pandemic,” Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a press release. “Today, the Biden administration is showing that we have their backs, too.”
One of the changes is a time-limited payment waiver that expands which previous payments, plans and timelines now count toward forgiveness.
Military service members will also receive credit toward the program automatically under the announced changes and can count deferments and forbearances toward the program as well.
The Department of Education will also review applications to the program that were denied for errors and introduce an appeals process in which borrowers can ask for previous decisions to be reassessed.
Nearly 550,000 borrowers with previously consolidated loans could see an impact over the course of the program overhaul, according to the announcement. On average, these borrowers will gain two years of progress toward forgiveness.