House Passes Student Loan Forgiveness Bill

Good news to report on the Student Loan Forgiveness Bill. It passed the House today. The Senate companion bill has passed the Judiciary Committee. There's yet another hurdle: If enacted, the repayment program must be funded through separate legislation in order to take effect. From CQ (subscription only):

May 15, 2007 – 3:44 p.m.
House Lawmakers Pass Bill on Student Loan Forgiveness
By Seth Stern and Ben Halpern-Meekin, CQ Staff

Law school graduates who take jobs as criminal prosecutors and public defenders would be eligible for student loan forgiveness under a bill House lawmakers passed Tuesday.

Considered under suspension of the rules, the bipartisan measure (HR 916) passed by 341-73. It would provide a maximum of $10,000 per year — up to a total of $60,000 — for law school graduates who committed to working at least three years as state or local prosecutors or federal, state or local public defenders. Federal prosecutors are already eligible for loan forgiveness.

....Graduates can carry up to $100,000 in law school debt, in addition to debt from their undergraduate educations. Many find it financially difficult to take jobs as prosecutors and public defenders, which typically pay less than entry-level positions in the private sector.


The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill by voice vote May 2. The panel adopted a substitute amendment that would offset other forms of loan forgiveness and cap the authorization at $25 million per year for the six-year life of the program before it sunsets.

Although he criticized the original version of the legislation as being “very costly,” J. Randy Forbes, R-Va., praised the cap as “fiscally responsible” during remarks on the floor. He also said the cap “provides Congress the opportunity to review the cost-effectiveness of the program.”

Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., has introduced a companion measure (S 442) in the Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a similar bill last Congress.

[Hat tip to Kyle, Legislative Director for NACDL]

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    question (none / 0) (#1)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed May 16, 2007 at 08:26:44 AM EST
      Does this bill apply only to law school graduates who take prosecutor or PD jobs, or did you just mention that because this site focuses  (to  an ever lessening degree) on criminal justice?

      If its part of a broad bill to provide forgiveness to graduates making certain career choice then I would have no problem with the concept, though the devil is in the details. If it's a bill to single out this very narrow class of people for special treatment I have problems with it.

      Even among law school graduates, prosecution and PD are not the only positions that pay modestly and provide "public goo." what about lrgal aid societies, working for certain other non-profit social services agencies, or even being a private practitioner who chooses to serve low income people in consumer or landlord-tenant or ... matters. What about someone who devotes a higher than "typical" portion of his time to pro bono work?

      More importantly perhaps, what about people who either choose occupations that are generally less well compensated or who take specific jobs that pay less than other jobs in the field? For example would a nurse who decides to work at a rural or inner city clinic for less pay than he could get at a major hospital be eligible for forgiveness?


    When is my turn?? (none / 0) (#2)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed May 16, 2007 at 07:01:16 PM EST
    How about the money I spent on my youngest's Jouralism Degree.

    Surely an education for a job working to expose the ills of the world should be supported by the taxpayers...

    John R. Justice Bill, response to other comments (none / 0) (#3)
    by pg on Sun Sep 09, 2007 at 04:05:53 PM EST
    The bill only applies to assisant public defenders and assisant state's attorneys.  The bill applies to these folks regardless of how much they earn.  Assistant public defenders and state's attorneys in Cook County (Chicago) Illinois earn on average over $80k per year and many earn well over $100,000.00.  These folks are paid similar salaries in other metro areas such as New York city.  This aspect of the bill is unfair and a waste of tax payers money. The reason to include these well paid attorneys as benefactors of the bill--- politicians cow tow to special interests.  Senator Durbin brough some of the lowest paid Cook County assistant pd's and state's attorneys with the highest student loan debt and had them testify as if they represented the norm in their offices when on average folks in these offices earn $70k even after their yearly student loan payments. The bill does aribitrarily single out the public defenders and state's attorneys and this aspect is yet another example of government pork at the expense of what is good for America courtesy Dick Durbin and leaders of both major parties.


    attempt to answer Deconstuctionalists question (none / 0) (#4)
    by mrpg on Wed Sep 12, 2007 at 02:16:42 PM EST
    The part of PG's comment which makes the connection clear, may have been ommitted, or edited. PG's point seems to be there are many private sector people who cannot make ends meet while paying on their student loans.  At least this bill contains provisions so that the benefectors are either 1. low paid, or working in a field which benefits society and there is a large shortage of qualified applicants. The above criteria is not used with attorneys who have special treatment in a special bill.  PG seems to be in essential agreement with deconstuctionist and not in disagreement with jimakkaPP.