Statement on Media Reports about PSLF

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Release Date: 
Thursday, May 18, 2017

NLADA was deeply disappointed by reports that the White House budget – expected Monday - will include plans to eliminate Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and impose harsher conditions on borrowers on income-driven repayment (IDR) plans. PSLF and IDR make it financially viable for committed and talented lawyers, in addition to social workers, teachers, nurses, and others, to choose to enter and remain in public service.

The impact these proposals on justice in America would be catastrophic, as the quality and the amount of representation available to low-income and indigent people would decline sharply, making justice even less equal than it is today. Civil legal aid and public defender programs rely on the program to attract talented attorneys and other expert staff who would otherwise be unable to afford to pay their student loans and provide for themselves and their families.

A 2015 survey conducted by NLADA revealed that even if loan forgiveness were just capped, roughly half of attorneys employed at these programs would be forced to leave for a position with a higher salary, and what the government is set to propose is far more dramatic than that. Protecting PSLF is a critical issue for NLADA. Obama administration efforts to reform PSLF failed to gain traction in Congress, and we are working in close partnership with a diverse group of stakeholders from the legal, academic, and healthcare communities to ensure that this vital program continues to be protected on Capitol Hill.

It is not clear that any changes could apply retroactively, but we and our partners are developing strategies aimed at preventing the government from reneging on the promises it made to the hundreds of thousands of people who have already been making qualifying payments.

NLADA will continue to keep you informed about developments on this issue and ways to get involved.


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.