Law Grants Student Loan Forgiveness for Federal Employees

By Stephen Barr
Friday, September 28, 2007

Public service employees -- federal workers, soldiers, nurses, firefighters and others -- will have an opportunity to qualify for student loan forgiveness under a law signed by President Bush yesterday.

The law forgives outstanding education debt for public service employees who have made 10 years of monthly payments on their loans while serving full-time in government, public education or other positions related to public service.

The loan-forgiveness provision of the law takes effect Monday, which will start the clock ticking on when the government will take responsibility for paying outstanding debt. The benefit is not retroactive.

The measure is part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, which also increases the maximum annual amount that can be awarded through Pell Grant scholarships and reduces interest rates on federally subsidized loans.

"This bill will help ensure that no qualified student is prevented from going to college because of the cost," George Miller (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and one of the bill's chief sponsors, said yesterday. [Related article, A6.]

The law defines public service as a full-time job in several fields, including:

¿ Government, military service, emergency management, public safety, law enforcement, public health, public education.

¿ Social work in a public child- or family-service agency; public interest law services, including prosecution or public defense or legal advocacy in low-income communities for a nonprofit organization; public child care; public service for individuals with disabilities; public service for the elderly.

¿ Public library sciences, school-based library sciences and other school-based services.

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