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  • Orrin Luc posted an article
    Members of Congress followed that with a letter signed by 17 lawmakers. see more

    Rep. John Garamendi joined Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen in sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona asking for returned Volunteers to be included in Public Service Loan Forgiveness Reforms.

     

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    In early March 2022, CNN reported that the U.S. Department of Education has identified 100,000 borrowers eligible for debt cancellation from the beleaguered Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Reforms were announced to the program last October, allowing some borrowers to receive credit toward PSLF for periods of public service that would not have previously qualified. But Returned Peace Corps Volunteers were not listed among those eligible. They still aren’t.

    We covered some of the problems that returned Volunteers are facing in the previous edition of WorldView. So what has happened since?

     

    Illustration by Mark Smith

     

    In December 2021, RPCV Rep. John Garamendi (Ethiopia 1964–66) and Maryland Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen sent a letter, signed by 17 lawmakers, urging U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to include RPCVs in the reforms. “We strongly support your Department’s efforts to reform, strengthen, and expand the Public Student Loan Forgiveness Program,” they wrote. “We simply request that you provide for current and returned Peace Corps volunteers by creating a new waiver or expanding current waivers to allow volunteers to credit their full service overseas towards PSLF or Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness, even if their federal student loans were placed into deferment or forbearance status during their service.”

    In January, the Connecticut Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, an affiliate group of NPCA, sent a letter to Secretary Cardona, who previously served as Connecticut’s education secretary. “It was unfortunate to learn that the October announcement did not include RPCVs as being eligible for the temporary waiver period,” they wrote. “We therefore request that you extend a similar waiver to allow RPCVs who served since 2007 to count their public service overseas towards PSLF credit and repayment, even if the volunteer’s loan was in deferment or forbearance status at the time of their service.”

     

    A version of this story appears in the special 2022 Books Edition of WorldView magazine. Story updated April 30, 2022.


    Jonathan Pearson is the Director of Advocacy for National Peace Corps Association. The NPCA Advocacy team will share updates as we have them. If you have a PSLF story to share, contact advocacy@peacecorpsconnect.org.

  • Communications Intern posted an article
    So returned Volunteers are rallying to try to fix that. And NPCA is working with them to help. see more

    So returned Volunteers are rallying to try to fix that. And NPCA is working with them to help.

     

    By Jonathan Pearson

     

    In October 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced an overhaul of the troubled Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Applicants who devote ten years of work in the public service sector (and make 120 qualifying student loan payments during that time) are eligible to have further loan payments forgiven. In a press release, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the changes were an attempt to live up to the promise of the program and could impact more than 550,000 borrowers.

    But, as a New York Times story published in November made clear, Peace Corps Volunteers fell through the cracks. We need to fix that. A number of returned Volunteers have mobilized to seek widespread relief that would enable them to automatically receive qualifying months toward PSLF for any months in which their federal student loans were in a deferment or forbearance status due to Peace Corps service. They have formed a Facebook group, RPCVs for PSLF Relief, which has become a focal point for organizing action.

    National Peace Corps Association has worked with some RPCVs to organize meetings with Congress and has launched an advocacy initiative to make sure folks on Capitol Hill and in the White House understand the scale of the problem. And NPCA’s Global Reentry Program hosted a conversation on the “Jobs with Jodi” podcast with returned Volunteers Katie McSheffrey (Azerbaijan 2009–11) and Sarah Kilchevskyi (Ukraine 2006–08) to straighten out some misperceptions about PSLF. As it turns out, part of the problem has been that Volunteers and returned Volunteers alike got bad advice, including from the Peace Corps agency.

     

    SHARE YOUR STORY: Go to NPCA’s Action Center to write President Biden and your members of Congress.

    LEARN MORE: NPCA hosted a conversation about the program as part of the “Jobs with Jodi” series on November 17. 

     

     

    This story appears in the 60th anniversary edition of WorldView magazine. 


    Jonathan Pearson is Director of Advocacy for National Peace Corps Association.