Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program Has Uncertain Future

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Uncertainty surrounds the future of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
Uncertainty surrounds the future of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

HealthDay News — Uncertainty surrounds the future of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, according to an Ideas and Opinions article published online Aug. 28 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Justin A. Grischkan, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues address the uncertainty surrounding the PSLF program, which was established in 2007 and requires participants to make 10 years of loan repayments while employed at non-profit or government institutions, after which all remaining educational debt sponsored by the federal government will be forgiven.

The authors write that there are justifiable reasons for supporting the program and for changing it but not for keeping recent graduates in suspense. From 2010 to 2017 there was an increase in intended participation in the PSLF program, from 10 to more than 30 percent of medical school graduates

Furthermore, physicians pursuing higher-earning specialties with typically longer training periods end up responsible for less of their debt repayment than those pursuing lower-earning specialties, further exacerbating the differences in lifetime earnings between primary care and specialties. However, physicians who anticipate using the program more often come from backgrounds with lower parental income and have received less scholarship support. But more medical students come from high-income families, and overall debt is being further concentrated among those in need.

"Even as we consider new ways to finance training for public service, we should insist on clarity for those who have already pursued it," the authors write.

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