March 16, 2022

Whitehouse Introduces Bills to Grant Student Loan Forgiveness to Frontline Health Workers and Teachers

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Improvement Act and Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act recognize the sacrifice and dedication of public servants

Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, has introduced a pair of bills to forgive the student loan debt of frontline health care workers and teachers.

“We owe so much to our health care workers and teachers – something we grew to appreciate even more during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Whitehouse. “This legislation honors the contributions of these public servants by helping them to wipe the slate clean of student loan debt.”

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Improvement Act would increase the amount of student loan forgiveness available to teachers. The legislation would provide $30,000 in relief instead of $17,500 for highly qualified teachers as defined by the Department of Education, and $15,000 instead of $5,000 for other teachers. Representative Elaine Luria (D-VA) has introduced the bill in the House.

The Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act would establish a federal and private loan forgiveness program for health care workers who have made significant contributions during the pandemic. Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has introduced the bill in the House.

“Many of our members begin their teaching, nursing, or other public service careers with staggering student debt while earning salaries significantly less than their private sector peers,” said Frank Flynn, President of the Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals. “This often results in a delay in the financial security necessary for important milestones such as marriage or homeownership. We greatly appreciate Senator Whitehouse’s advocacy on this important issue. During this time of a decline in the public sector workforce this legislation will allow us to attract and retain the quality professional workforce necessary for our future success.”

“Higher education should only mean greater possibilities not deeper crippling debt,” said National Education Association Rhode Island President Lawrence E. Purtill. “This legislation is a step toward alleviating the burden on the educators and frontline workers of today, while creating the opportunity for a better, more just system in the future.”

“Recruiting and retaining healthcare professionals is critical in our efforts to rebuild a workforce devastated by the pandemic. But the education requirements for both entry level positions and incumbent healthcare workers is expensive and undermines our best efforts. Thank you Senator Whitehouse for listening to frontline caregivers about what we need to do differently to build a diverse, dedicated workforce,” said Patrick Quinn, Executive Vice President of SEIU 1199NE.

Whitehouse has been a leader in the fight to forgive public servants’ student loan debt. He joined with Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) to pass legislation to fix a glitch in the Public Student Loan Forgiveness Program that left teachers, soldiers, social workers, and other vital professions without the student loan forgiveness they were promised.

Meaghan McCabe, (401) 453-5294

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921