Washington, D.C. — As the Trump administration’s recent budget would put an end to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, the Center for American Progress Action Fund is releasing a new video in a social media campaign to educate Americans on what’s at stake. The campaign will tell the stories of Americans such as John Wallis of Rochester, New York, a recent medical school graduate who plans to help underserved communities by working as a cardiologist in an inner-city hospital. For many students such as Wallis who want to work in public service, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program could mean the difference between following their career paths helping communities in need and facing a crippling amount of student loan debt—or abandoning it just to stay afloat. As Wallis says in the video:
“If they break this promise, I’m going to have to be paying loans until I’m 51 years old.”
In 2019, U.S. student loan debt reached an estimated $1.56 trillion collectively owed by approximately 44 million borrowers, placing student debt in the second-highest consumer debt category behind mortgage debt. President Donald Trump’s spending plan would eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which is supposed to fully forgive federal student loans after 10 years of government or nonprofit employment. For medical students such as Wallis, who are likely to borrow large sums of money and earn a low wage, the program offers a much-needed reprieve.
“When you’re coming out with $300,000 of student debt, it can be quite frightening, but the reason it’s worth it is because of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. If you do the right thing, work in public service, work in a medically underserved area, the government is going to reward you for that behavior. It was a great program and now Trump is trying to take that away,” he says.
President Trump vowed to make fixing the student debt crisis a priority for his administration, saying in an address at the White House, “Student loan debt. I’m going to work to fix it. Because it’s outrageous what’s happening. You’re not given that fair start.” Wallis says this would be a broken promise if the Trump administration doesn’t honor the loan forgiveness program.
“Donald Trump’s campaign slogan of ‘Promises Made, Promises Kept’—it’s absurd and infuriating, because he promised to help with the student debt problem, but now he is trying to eliminate Public Service Loan Forgiveness,” he says.
As Wallis explains in the video, eliminating the loan forgiveness program not only affects students, but it is largely contributing to the primary care doctor shortage across the nation.
“This is not only affecting millions and millions of students and young people; it’s negatively impacting patient care and contributing to the primary care doctor shortage, so this is an issue that crosses many fronts. We need public servants who can understand the gravity of this situation and tackle this issue head-on,” he says.
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