NTEU Joins Call for Student Loan Forgiveness

Press Release April 1, 2021

Washington D.C. – Public sector employees, including those at the federal level, who have served for 10 years or more and have outstanding student loans should have those loans forgiven, a coalition of unions today told the Department of Education.

In a joint letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) and other unions wrote of the failure of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program that rejected 98 percent of the employees who applied. Citing a “combination of arbitrary and narrow regulations, mismanagement by the previous administration, and widespread abuses across the student loan industry,” the unions asked for an immediate 90-day review of the PSLF program.

“This program has failed federal employees who serve their country with the understanding that after 10 years of paying student loans, the remainder of those loans would be forgiven,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “Instead, they were told, late in the game, that they did not qualify and had little opportunity to make adjustments to become eligible.”

Reardon added, “This is frustrating and disappointing, and I call on the Department of Education to heed the recommendations and actions the unions are requesting to bring the promised relief to eligible employees.”

Along with the 90-day review, the unions requested a seat at the table so the voices of employees can be heard and the cancelation of student loan debt for all public service workers with a decade or more of service.

“Regardless of loan type, loan status, or repayment plan, the Department of Education must recognize and reward public service, consistent with congressional intent. To the maximum extent possible, the Department should automate the process of verifying and cancelling debts, relying on information already collected or available from other government agencies,” the unions wrote.

NTEU represents about 150,000 employees at 34 federal agencies and departments.