U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been sued by the American Federation of Teachers for allegedly preventing public employees from accessing a loan-forgiveness program to which they are entitled under federal law.
In Weingarten v. DeVos, AFT president Randi Weingarten and seven other plaintiffs state that federal workers have been denied access to the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program by the DOE. The bipartisan loan-forgiveness plan which was signed into law by President George W. Bush and entitles qualifying public service workers to forego the balance on their loans after 10 years, thereby saving them tens of thousands of dollars.
The suit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., charges DeVos with mismanagement of the loan servicers under contract. The law firm Selendy & Gay represents the complainants.
With the U.S. experiencing $1.6-trillion student debt crisis, by March 2019 fewer than 1 percent (518 employees) of applicants for PSLF had received it. More than 32 million American borrowers are repaying PSLF loans.
“Public service loan forgiveness is a right, but Betsy DeVos has turned it into a crapshoot,” said Weingarten. “Twelve years ago, Congress made a bipartisan commitment to help millions of workers pay off their student loan debt as recognition for their dedicated public service. DeVos has broken that promise and vindictively — and illegally — blocked their path to the middle class.”