Whitehouse introduces bills to grant student loan forgiveness to frontline healthcare workers and teachers


The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Improvement Act and the Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers recognize the sacrifice and dedication of public servants

washington d.c. — Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced a pair of bills to forgive student loan debt for frontline healthcare workers and teachers.

“We owe so much to our healthcare workers and teachers – something we have come to appreciate even more during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Whitehouse. “This bill honors the contributions of these public servants by helping them wipe the slate clean of student debt.

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Improvement Act would increase the amount of student loan forgiveness available to teachers. The legislation would provide $30,000 in relief instead of $17,500 for highly qualified teachers as defined by the Department of Education, and $15,000 instead of $5,000 for other teachers. Representative Elaine Luria (D-VA) introduced the bill in the House.

The Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Healthcare Workers Act would establish a federal and private loan forgiveness program for healthcare workers who have made significant contributions during the pandemic. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced the bill in the House.

“Many of our members begin their careers in teaching, nursing or other public service with staggering student debt while earning wages significantly below those of their private sector peers,” said Frank Flynn, president of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals. “This often results in a delay in the financial security needed for important milestones like marriage or home ownership. We greatly appreciate Senator Whitehouse’s advocacy on this important issue. At a time when the public sector workforce is declining, this legislation will allow us to attract and retain the quality professional workforce necessary for our future success. »

“Higher education should only mean greater opportunity and not deeper crippling debt,” said Lawrence E. Purtill, president of the Rhode Island National Education Association. “This legislation is a step toward easing the burden on educators and frontline workers today, while creating the possibility for a better and fairer system in the future.”

“The recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals is essential in our efforts to rebuild a workforce devastated by the pandemic. But the educational requirements for entry-level positions and tenured healthcare workers are costly and undermine our best efforts. Thank you to Senator Whitehouse for listening to frontline caregivers about what we need to do differently to build a diverse and dedicated workforce,” said Patrick Quinn, executive vice president of SEIU 1199NE.

Whitehouse has been a leader in the fight to write off public servants’ student loan debt. He joined Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) in passing legislation to fix a problem in the public student loan forgiveness program that has left teachers, soldiers, social workers and other vital professions without the student loan forgiveness that had been promised to them.

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Meaghan McCabe, (401) 453-5294

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