Union Leader Urges Education Secretary to Keep Student Loan Forgiveness Program

Press Release May 26, 2017

Washington, D.C – Eliminating the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program would hurt the government’s ability to recruit and retain ambitious and highly trained employees, said Tony Reardon, National President of the National Treasury Employees Union.

In a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Reardon urged the administration to keep the program in place because it helps make public service more affordable for thousands of employees. The administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget recommends the program be eliminated.

“In our union, we have many lawyers and scientists who could make two or three times more money working in the private sector,” Reardon wrote. “But they believe that being a civil servant is a calling, and they feel fortunate to be able to work in the government, with lower pay, knowing that, at some point in the future, their student loans will be paid off. 

Under the program, public sector employees can apply to have their student loans forgiven after they’ve made 120 monthly payments.

In his May 25 letter to DeVos, Reardon explained that government salaries are not high enough for many employees to pay off the portion of their loans still outstanding after 10 years, and the PSLF is a way to reward them for their service.

“Many of my members could only afford to take a job in the federal government because of PSLF,” Reardon wrote.

Reardon also asked for clarification that ending the program would only affect individuals taking out future loans and not those employees already relying upon it.

NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 31 federal agencies and departments.