NAACP's Dr. Ivory A. Toldson on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
President Biden's plans to delay student loan repayments for the fifth time suggest the $1.75 trillion in U.S. student loan debt remains problematic, even as the pandemic subsides. Permanent cancelation of student loans for as many U.S. citizens as possible is necessary to stabilize our economy and improve American lives. Instead of being shackled by debt, emerging adults can be homeowners, family starters, and workers who take meaningful jobs, even if the pay is lower. If everyone can not immediately benefit from cancelation, we at least owe cancelation to U.S. citizens who serve our country by working for the government and improving the lives of others by working for nonprofits and other charitable organizations.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program should serve this obligation in theory, but as currently implemented the program is too complex and cumbersome, with requirements that are unreasonable. The NAACP believes the unacceptably high level of student loan debt among Black Americans is an injustice that requires thoughtful and thorough public redress. We agree with President Biden's administration when they stated that PSLF needs "long-term improvements" that should be achieved through negotiated rulemaking. The NAACP stands willing and ready to work with the administration on long-term improvements to PSLF, which means greatly expanding the scope and definition of public service, simplifying the process, and expanding eligibility criteria.
-- Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D., NAACP, Director of Education Innovation and Research