Editors Note: This article was originally published March 9, 2014. It has been subsequently edited to update links that are no longer valid.
Earlier this week President Obama introduced his proposed budget for the upcoming year. In it, he is recommending a provision that will change the Public Interest Loan Forgiveness (PILF) program by capping overall forgiveness to $57,500. Since 2007, the law has said that when a public servant worked for 10 years, ALL of their federal student debt would be forgiven.
Back in 2008, when you were candidate Obama, you once said that, “I will ask for your service and your active citizenship when I am president of the United States,” Not only did you say public service was important but in front of a group of college students you said, “This will not be a call issued in one speech or one program – this will be a central cause of my presidency.”
I write you today to ask you to keep that promise. Since 2007 many young Americans have heeded your call, and entered a life of public service. This group of citizen servants became teachers, firefighters, social workers, and police officers. Some joined non-profits to hep the greater good, while others joined our military to defend our freedom. To many, it is not merely a job or a paycheck, but instead a career and a lifetime commitment.
It’s no secret that student loans have dramatically altered the lives of many graduates. But you, and the rest of our leaders in Washington, wrote a law saying that if we were willing to commit our lives to the American people, you would make sure student loans didn’t stand in the way.
The deal was simple. Work 10 years. Make your payments on time for those 10 years. If you do that, your federal student loans would be forgiven.
Its probably easy for the many politicians in Washington to say that these public servants are still getting a good deal or that the money is better spent elsewhere. On the other side, student loan borrowers could point out the fact that student loans generate billions of dollars for Washington, D.C. each year. But these arguments all miss the point. The fact is, we had a deal.
Thousands of Americans made career decisions that cannot simply be undone. They made these decisions relying upon the promises that you and other leaders made.
In the big picture, we are a group of citizens that is probably easy to ignore. We don’t have lobbyists exerting influence on our behalf. We won’t be picketing or going on strike because its not our style. We’ve already made the decision to put the needs of others ahead of our own pocket books.
We have answered your call to public service. We are the ones who are busy working often thankless jobs, for lower wages. We tend to the sick, educate your children, and keep you safe at night. We may lack money, power, and influence, but we are part of what makes this country great.
Mr. President… We had a deal. We have kept up our end of the deal, will you keep yours?
A Public Servant
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