Congressman Jim Banks auditioned a new line of attack against Biden’s loan-forgiveness program: that it undermines military recruitment.
I have questions, such as “what are the ethics of saddling people with debt in order to coerce them into military service?” and “is it a good look to argue that we shouldn’t help people in economic distress because that’ll hurt military recruitment” and “from a public-policy perspective, might there be better ways to address military-recruitment problems?” and “how many of the 84% of student-debt holders over the age of 30 are going to view joining the military as the right career choice?”
But what I really want to know is this: if you consider student-loan forgiveness an important tool for military recruitment, why did you also—this very day—unveil a bill that ends the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program? You know, the same program that allows new recruits to eventually discharge their debts.*
*There are two programs that provide this benefit. The other one is the National Defense Student Loan Discharge program, which is unlikely to provide much of a boost to military recruitment:
Federal law (34 CFR 674.59) says that service in a location that qualifies a military member for hostile-fire or imminent-danger pay can qualify for up to 50 percent of their loan being canceled if their military service ended before Aug. 14, 2008. For those whose service began on or after that date, they may have up to 100 percent of their loan forgiven.
This is only for Federal Perkins Loans. Under federal law, the authority for schools to make new Perkins Loans ended on Sept. 30, 2017. But if you have any old loans, it is worth your while to check this out. Perkins Loans were usually given by schools rather than banks.
A school must cancel up to 100% of the outstanding balance of a Perkins Loan for a full year of active duty. The borrower’s commanding officer must certify the borrower’s service dates. Active-duty service for less than a complete year or a fraction of a year beyond a complete year does not qualify. A complete year of service is 12 consecutive months.