Foster's bill aims to help public employees with student loans

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, and six of his House of Representatives colleagues are sponsoring a bill that aims to forgive the student loans of public service workers.

The bill would expand the types of loan repayment plans eligible for forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, according to a news release. The program requires the U.S. Department of Education to forgive student loans after borrowers make at least 10 years of qualifying payments while working as certain public service employees.

But 99% of applicants have been denied for loan forgiveness, according to the release. Millions of borrowers who enroll in the program were told they had the wrong type of repayment plan.

“Student debt is a serious economic burden for too many Americans,” Foster said. “It’s clear that the current student loan repayment process is unnecessarily burdensome and is deterring people from pursuing careers in public service.”

A long list of organizations, including the American Council on Education, American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees and American Federation of Teachers, support the legislation, according to the release.

Foster’s opponent in the 2020 Democratic primary, Rachel Ventura, responded to Foster’s announcement, arguing it doesn’t go far enough. Ventura said she would support a plan to forgive the student loan debt of millions of Americans, including private sector workers, through a speculation sales tax or a wealth tax on those with a net worth of more than $50 million.

“I support a plan to eliminate college debt for those who have been saddled with this financial burden after graduation,” Ventura said in a statement.

She also would support a plan to fully fund education from preschool through a four-year college degree, technical school or certificate program.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.