The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program was created in 2007 to attract and retain talented and skilled professionals into public service positions which historically pay significantly lower starting salaries than the private sector.
The PSLF program is a valuable resource for Ohio’s legal aids which allows them to attract the best and brightest law school graduates and lawyers who want to work in public interest law. PSLF lowers the primary barrier to public interest law—student loan debt.
80% of law students take out student loans in order to be able to attend law school. On average, those who graduate from a private law school graduate with $122,000 of educational debt and those who graduate from public law schools graduate with an average of $88,000 in educational debt. This is often in addition to an average of $30,000 in undergraduate debt. PSLF makes it possible for a lawyer with student loan debt to choose a career as a legal aid attorney, public defender, or prosecutor − jobs with typical starting salaries around $50,000.
Under the PSLF program, participants who make 120 on-time payments on Federal Direct Loans while employed full-time in qualifying public service jobs are eligible to have whatever amount of interest and principle remaining on their loans after completing the 120 on-time payments forgiven. The Foundation is proud to report that, to date, the three legal aid lawyers who have been eligible for loan forgiveness through PSLF have had 100% of the remainder of their loans forgiven. As part of a larger discussion on college affordability happening in the context of the Higher Education Reauthorization Act, some legislators and the President have proposed eliminating PSLF or adding new restrictions on the program that would limit its ability to help the public servants it was designed to attract to public service careers.
Please contact your Congressperson and tell them that PSLF serves an important purpose that greatly benefits the public. Repealing or amending the PSLF program to restrict it would harm the public and non-profit communities by denying them a recruitment tool that enables them to attract the talent they need to provide critical services that stabilize low-income and vulnerable Ohioans.