Education Department expedites loan forgiveness for service members following rare bipartisan push

Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida teamed up on the effort

Following an unusual bipartisan effort by Sens. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the Department of Education announced Wednesday it had reformed its Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to allow service members to receive their earned loan forgiveness more quickly.

"Today, the U.S. Department of Education announced an overhaul of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program that it will implement over the next year to make the program live up to its promise," said the Education Department in a statement. "This policy will result in 22,000 borrowers who have consolidated loans—including previously ineligible loans—being immediately eligible for $1.74 billion in forgiveness without the need for further action on their part."

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Prior to the changes, service members who paused their student loan payments while they were deployed or on extended active duty orders could not count that time period toward their student loan forgiveness.

"I am pleased that the administration is taking steps to expedite student loan forgiveness for members of the military. Our service members make an incredible sacrifice, and we should do everything in our power to provide them with the option for loan forgiveness," Rubio reacted Thursday. "It is time for Congress to pass our Recognizing Military Service in Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Act to ensure these changes are permanent."

Earlier this year, Hassan and Rubio introduced a bill, named the Recognizing Military Service in Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Act, allowing service members who placed their federal student loans in deferment or forbearance during periods of active duty service to count those months toward their Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

"Student loans should never be a deterrent for entering into public service, including the military," Hassan said. "This is a commonsense fix that will support public servants and ensure that they are able to give back without the worry of student debt."

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"Borrowers who devote a decade of their lives to public service should be able to rely on the promise of Public Service Loan Forgiveness," said Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. "The system has not delivered on that promise to date, but that is about to change for many borrowers who have served their communities and their country," he said. 

Fox News' Andrew Murray contributed to this report.