PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregonians who signed up for the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness program are finding it's not very forgiving. 

Tens of thousands of students nationwide took advantage of the government program but only about one percent have been approved to have their loans forgiven.

The program was a bipartisan deal passed in 2007. It was designed to encourage people to go into lower paying public service jobs, and if they did for ten years, and made 120 payments on time, they'd have their remaining student debt erased.

Oregon First District Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici held a roundtable discussion recently where she heard from graduates across her district who said they're left stuck holding the bag.

Bonamici said, "People across Oregon and our country took jobs in public service and planned their lives around it, only to discover it was an empty promise. It’s been devastating to so many people."

Beaverton fifth grade teacher, Kristin Fouts, attended Bonamici's roundtable.
As a University of Oregon student, she signed up for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

She said after she put in her ten years teaching and making her loan payments, she turned in her paperwork early to have the balance of her loans forgiven.

She said it was a nightmare. "Everything came to a screeching halt. It was one problem after another. Not to have the promise fulfilled was disheartening," Fouts said.

Eventually, Fouts did have her $30,000 in loans forgiven, but she said it took months of phone calls, paper work, and advocacy from Representative Bonamici's office, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

On KGW's current affairs show, "Straight Talk," Congresswoman Bonamici vowed to push Congress to make things right with the thousands of borrowers still waiting to have their loans forgiven.

In addition this week, she introduced the College Affordability Act to make college more affordable and accessible.

Bonamici also discussed her work on an update to the "Older Americans Act," and her role on the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

Straight Talk airs Saturday at 4:30 pm and is also available as a podcast.

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