Goodbye to Public Service Loan Forgiveness?
President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for 2020
and It’s Effect on the Student Loan Crisis
President Trump has proposed to increase the budget in certain areas such as the Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, Homeland Security and Veteran Affairs, which we can agree for the most part was needed. But at what cost? All the remaining areas that should have at least remained the same have suffered a great loss, one of those areas being Education.
Education in America is already so expensive! With President Trump’s proposed budget, education funding will have an estimated 10% reduction from 2019’s budget. The proposed plan is to remove several existing programs including the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).
The PSLF was created to help previous students employed by the government and non-profit organizations have their loans forgiven after ten years of consistent payments. Government and non-profit employees already receive low wages compared to employees in other professions. The most important people who fit that criteria are teachers, prosecutors and public defenders, and military and local public service personnel. Those three types of employees are vital for our civil duties.
Teachers already receive low incomes and in northern New Jersey, where the cost of living is one of the highest in the nation, the loss of Public Service Loan Forgiveness would be especially difficult. I can personally recall the two times during my elementary schooling in which teachers went on strike because they wanted an increase in wages and education budgets within the public-school system. When President George W. Bush passed the PDLF program, it allowed teachers the peace of mind knowing that although their wages were still at a low compared to other careers, they at least could at least rely on certain benefits, like having student loan forgiveness after ten years of service.
Public defender’s and prosecutors are also at a disadvantage with this proposed budget cut. Both careers already get paid less than a private attorney would normally get paid. With this proposed budget cut, one of the incentives for those careers would lead to a decrease in employees over time in those two professions. Would you want to work for low wages defending people or would you rather work for a private firm with a higher salary? What we fail to realize, without a prosecutor we cannot defend our civil rights within a court room. Who will defend us, the People, when a mass murderer is up for trial? Who will defend the rights of rape victims when a rapist is on trial? In the flipside, there are many people who get convicted unfairly or people who are convicted when they are innocent, who will defend them when they are up for trial? If they have low income and cannot afford to hire a private defense attorney, how will they receive the proper defense in the Court of Law? Public defenders are important to the convict and all Americans have a right to an attorney even if we cannot afford one! With a cut in PSLF we would reducing the reasons why a graduate should apply for employment in the Court system rather than applying for a private firm or even starting their own private practice.
PSLF cuts would also affect military and local public safety personnel and prospective employees. Many people enlist or join the police force for many of the education incentives, PSLF being one of them. How will our streets be protected; how will we receive first response if we do not have employees readily available? As I mentioned before, the Department of Defense has received an increase in budget, but will that increase compensate for the monthly student loans our public service employees will have to repay? These are items our prospective and existing personnel will have to consider when enlisting or reenlisting. What is the point of us spending so much money on Defense if there won’t be people helping protect this country? Our local government is at stake because eventually policemen and other types of first responders will have to seek better employment in order to increase their monthly income to pay off those student loans.
How does this effect New Jersey residents? What about Morris, Union, Middlesex and Somerset County residents specifically? The truth is, those of us residing in northern New Jersey will suffer greatly if programs like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness are taken away. It is hard enough to live in North Jersey, let alone on government, or public service pay. Public servants in Morris, Union, Middlesex and Somerset Counties are living and working in areas that have a median household income of over $100,000 per year for a family of only 3 people. The average public-school teacher earns about $68,000, so there is no choice but to have a 2-income household in order to just get by in New Jersey. The benefit of having programs like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is that it attracts and keeps better talent in our school system, our public defender’s offices and all other areas of public service.
With the student loan crisis at staggering levels, something else need to be done… not eliminating helpful programs that reward our public servants.