May 27, 2022

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Military borrowers continue to face obstacles to getting their student loans forgiven

Jodie Parks works full time as an occupational therapist at a Michigan state psychiatric hospital. But since October she’s had a second job: spending four hours a week, she estimates, making calls and chasing down paperwork to prove that she previously served in the military.

She needs that proof to have her student loans forgiven under the federal government’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, created by a 2007 law that pledged to erase students’ debt if they took lower-paying but critical jobs with nonprofits and the government.

It’s a promise that, for most borrowers, has yet to pay off. Fewer than 2 percent of applicants were approved between 2017, when the first borrowers became eligible, and the onset of Covid-19. And among the huge number of applications denied or lost in the bureaucracy were many from Americans who perform perhaps the ultimate public service: joining the armed forces.