Student loan forgiveness: Great in theory, murky in practice–ABA Journal



To afford law school, Kyle Ingram borrowed $120,000. Saddled with this significant loan balance at age 27, he sought debt forgiveness through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

Established in 2007, the PSLF Program allows people with federally backed loans to work for a qualifying government or nonprofit public service organization while making payments under one of four federal qualified repayment programs for 120 months.

As such, Ingram says he passed up more lucrative opportunities to qualify for the program. Since graduating from the University of Oregon in 2012, Ingram, who’s based in Washington, D.C., has worked as an attorney for various federal agencies and currently makes an annual salary of $84,000.

Last year, Ingram watched the first cohorts of PSLF applicants file for debt forgiveness. The results were unsettling. In September, the U.S. Department of Education, which administers the program, approved less than 1 percent of applicants. Ninety-nine percent, the department reported, either did not meet the program’s requirements or had incomplete applications.


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