COLUMBUS – State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) today introduced House Bill (H.B.) 618 to help Ohio workers take advantage of the U.S. Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. The legislation establishes a navigator pilot program and requires clear, concise information to be published online.
“If public servants pay their student loans on-time every month for ten years, then they deserve every opportunity to take advantage of federal debt forgiveness without being nickeled and dimed by complex requirements. H.B. 618 will ensure more of Ohio’s public servants can take advantage of time-sensitive policy fixes from the Biden Administration,” said Rep. Sweeney. “This legislation is just one small step to ensure access to information and encourage public service. But it is one that we must take for our teachers, nurses, first responders and others who choose to enter critical, but too-often underpaid, professions.”
According to a recent article from CNBC, more than 100,000 public servants will receive student debt forgiveness thanks to policy fixes to the program made by the Biden Administration. To benefit from these changes, borrowers must act quickly to consolidate loans and provide proof of payments/service before the new rules expire on October 31. Under the previous administration, less than one percent of applicants had the remainder of their student loans forgiven after ten years of public service and monthly payments.
Specifically, H.B. 618 requires the Director of Administrative Services to publish a fact sheet outlining loan forgiveness programs, a letter notifying public employees about eligibility requirements, a document with frequently asked questions, and any relevant document from a federal agency as determined by the director. It also appropriates $200,000 to create a Navigator Pilot Program in collaboration with a community college, a state university, and a public agency whose employees qualify for the U.S. Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
Prior to the pandemic, Ohioans already owed over $57 billion dollars in student debt, with Ohio having the 6th highest student debt per capita of any state.
H.B. 618 now awaits referral to a House Committee for further consideration.