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PaydayNow: Some people are still unable to seek student loan forgiveness despite years of public service

A brief-lived program in the early 2000s offered married couples to consolidate student loans to get an interest rate that was lower. Many are now missing out on hundreds of dollars in loan forgiveness.

Teachers, firefighters, and government workers are trying to separate their student loan debt from the ones of their spouses in time to eliminate their debts through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). President Biden changed the program last October, however in order to benefit from the program -including the forgiveness of student loans following 120 qualifying installments The borrowers have to be able to submit their paperwork by the end of October this year.

“We keep getting these notices about, ‘Hey, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness waiver, you could qualify. Try it,’ ” says Becki Vallecillo who is a long-time Kindergarten teacher from Anderson, S.C. “And it’s heartbreak every single time.”

Vallecillo along with her spouse, Eric, found out in the beginning that they didn’t meet the criteria for eligibility. Since they are kindergarten teachers and school counselors, they satisfy every requirement except for one: Their debts are consolidated.

She’s spoken on the phone on several occasions with the loan provider. “The last time I did it, I literally was in tears by the end. I had spent like four hours on a Saturday getting transferred and bounced around: ‘Go to this website, do this paperwork, talk to this person,’ ” Vallecillo states. The answer remains the same.

More than 14,000 borrowers consolidated their student loan debts during the latter part of 1990 and into the early 2000s using a method known as spousal consolidation. The process offered borrowers the promise of a single monthly installment as well as a lower interest rate. See more information on home page.

However, there was a fundamental issue: The program had no means of dissociating the loans that were initially they had been merged. Even in the event of domestic violence or divorce the debts can’t be resolved. Congress ended the spousal debt choice of consolidation, but there was no system in place to handle the borrower.

Today, many borrowers regardless of relationship status are denied thousands of dollars in relief assistance. In many instances, the total debts exceed 100,000, and in some cases, couples owe over $200,000.

Two Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia and Rep. David E. Price of North Carolina, say they can fix the issue in a few steps change the language and allow loans to be separated. They first proposed legislation to allow that in April 2021. However, since then, the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act has been more involved in the debate about student loan cancellation.

“I’m not saying you should just get rid of all student loans, which would be awesome, right?” claims Patrick Shattuck, a high school English teacher from Santa Ynez, Calif. “I’m just saying, ‘Can I please pay my share?’ That’s all I want to do.”

Shattuck has divorced but remains in debt of more than $170,000 in total debt to his ex-wife the majority of which isn’t his own.

A few months ago, when an NPR article examined the program affected borrowers began cooperating to manage the lobbying effort. They created the Group on Facebook which now has nearly 400 members from all over the nation, hoping to redefine the problem. It was successful. Their efforts brought the bill put back before the Senate with renewed hope in May.

“It’s almost as if the minute that this is brought to the attention of politicians, they’re like, ‘this is a slam dunk,’ ” Shattuck claims.

The bill is in a stalemate. With the possibility of more loan forgiveness coming the lawmakers and borrowers are getting anxious.

“I feel like crying ’cause I’m like, ‘Oh, God, what have we done?’ ” says Cynthia Malone. She’s a licensed clinical worker for the public Defender’s Office situated in Columbia, Mo. She is involved with the population on death row and appeals procedures to review allegations.

She’s got a husband who is an official in the field of probation. Between them, they’ve accumulated many years of service in the public sector -as well as more than $110,000 of student loans.

Malone states that the most challenging part of their current situation is watching colleagues who have the same experience, but with no spousal consolidation having their debts forgiven. She is left feeling unfulfilled because of a choice they made years ago, at the behest of their lender.

However, the confusion surrounding PSLF isn’t just restricted to joint consolidation borrowers. A new report by the Student Borrower Protection Center suggests that, out of the 9 million borrowers who are eligible to benefit under this new PSLF waiver only 2% have been granted relief.

Even in the event that president Biden prolongs the PSLF waiver beyond October to give borrowers a longer time to be eligible joint consolidation borrowers remain in wait. All that will alter their situation is the act of Congress. As of now, Malone says she and her husband are trying not to consider all the debt.

If asked about what they would do differently when they were able to claim PSLF most joint-consolidation borrowers interviewed by NPR wanted the identical item which is a savings bank.

They want to begin making savings for their future instead of paying an interest rate on their past.