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CEO DATELINE – American Bar Association employees deemed eligible for student loan forgiveness

Feb. 21, 2020
By Walt Williams
The U.S. Department of Education will recognize employees who work for the American Bar Association as public service workers eligible for student loan forgiveness, the group announced Wednesday.

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At issue was the agency’s interpretation of who qualifies for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. FedLoan Servicing, the company overseeing the program, had previously told several borrowers that their work as public interest lawyers at nonprofit organizations no longer qualified for loan forgiveness, leading to a lawsuit against the Education Department in 2016, the Washington Post reported.
Employees at nonprofits with 501(c)(3) tax status are generally eligible, but employees at other nonprofit organizations must meet certain conditions before qualifying for loan forgiveness, according to the program’s website. For example, employees at nonprofits that provide public safety and law enforcement services are eligible for loan forgiveness, although those at labor unions and partisan political organizations are not.
Last year, a federal judge ruled in favor of the borrowers who had sued the Education Department, finding that the agency had inexplicably changed the terms for who qualifies, according to the Post. As a result, ABA received a letter from the agency on Tuesday stating that the association’s full-time employees are “employed in a public service job” with “a public service organization” and therefore eligible.
“We are pleased the Department of Education now fully accepts providing loan forgiveness to many people who rightfully earned it,” ABA Executive Director Jack Rives said in a statement. “Without the dedicated public service of so many attorneys, our nation would not be able to provide services to those in need. Student loan forgiveness is a small but very meaningful way to repay young people who spend 10 years of their lives in lower-paying jobs to serve the public.”