Public Service Loan Forgiveness and the Justice System

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Release Date: 
Thursday, February 22, 2018

Contact: Sharon Singh: [email protected]; @NLADA


NLADA Releases Report on the Role of Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program in the Justice System


(Washington, DC) The President’s FY 2019 budget blueprint released Monday, February 12, includes a proposal that would eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. PSLF was enacted by President George W. Bush in 2007 to encourage graduates to enter into public service and to make it financially viable for them to remain in service for the duration of their careers despite taking on significant student loan debt to earn their degrees. PSLF ensures that Americans have access to vital services. A survey conducted by the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) suggests that the program has significantly enhanced access to justice in America, and that eliminating PSLF would harm our communities.

“PSLF helps ensure our communities are receiving high-quality and critical services by making it possible for our public servants to provide for their families and afford basic life milestones without needing to move to the private sector where they could command far higher salaries,” said Jo-Ann Wallace, NLADA President & CEO. “PSLF is an investment in our communities and our democracy. Civil legal aid and public defender programs work to protect the fundamental American promise of equal justice for all, but their effectiveness depends entirely on their ability to retain experienced staff and to attract qualified new hires.”

More than 3,000 individuals responded to the NLADA survey. Responses indicate that PSLF has had a meaningful impact on enabling graduates to enter and remain in positions critical to our justice system. Eighty-one percent of those respondents who are working to earn forgiveness were significantly influenced by the program: 51 percent reported that if PSLF had not been available they would not have taken their current position. An additional 30 percent indicated they were only somewhat likely to have taken their position. Almost two-thirds of top executives at civil legal aid and public defender programs considered PSLF a highly important tool for recruiting and 71 percent indicated it was crucial to being able to retain experienced staff.

A copy of the full report is located here.




The National Legal Aid & Defender Association, founded in 1911, is America’s oldest and largest nonprofit association devoted to excellence in the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford counsel. NLADA has pioneered access to justice at the national, state and local levels through the creation of our public defender systems and other important institutions from The Sentencing Project to the Legal Services Corporation. A leader in the development of national standards for civil legal aid and public defense, NLADA also provides advocacy, training and technical assistance for equal justice advocates across the country.