JERSEY CITY, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today joined a group of his Senate colleagues in urging the Biden Administration to implement changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program that will make it easier for military service members to access benefits. The Department of Education has already provided relief to many borrowers under the new rules, but the changes have not yet been fully implemented while thousands of service members are in urgent need of aid.

In a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona the senators wrote, “these changes to PSLF will be critically important for service members, veterans, and their families. An estimated 200,000 service members collectively now owe more than $2.9 billion in student loans, and many of them planned their financial futures around the promise of eventual student debt relief. However, a recent Government Accountability Office report indicated that approximately 94 percent of service members and civilian employees of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) who previously applied for relief through the program have been denied.”

In October, the Department of Education announced an overhaul of the eligibility requirements for the PSLF program that would ensure service members don’t lose out on federal student aid due to their military service. These changes include new provisions to allow service members to count months spent on active duty toward PSLF, even if a service member’s loans were on a deferment at the time. Changes also include a new requirement that the Department of Education automatically give military members and federal employees credit for PSLF, instead of requiring them to go through a lengthy application process. The senators are also calling for these changes to be made official regulations, so that they cannot be reversed or rolled back in the future.

“During the current negotiated rulemaking process, we ask the Department to codify as many of the administrative improvements in regulation as possible,” the senators concluded.

Sen. Menendez has long advocated that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Education conduct strong oversight over student loan servicers who consistently mismanage the PSLF program. In October, he applauded the administration’s proposed overhaul to the PSLF program, which has long been riddled with confusing and restrictive requirements and plagued by mismanagement issues since its inception in 2007.

The letter was also signed by Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Revered Raphael G. Warnock (D-Ga.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

A copy of today’s letter can be found here.