APA continues to advocate, both with Congress and the Biden administration, for more affordable pathways to graduate study and student loan forgiveness options. The association recently endorsed legislation introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA)—the Protecting Our Students by Terminating Graduate Rates that Add to Debt (POST GRAD) Act (H.R. 4631)—which would once again allow graduate students to receive subsidized federal student loans. The elimination of the in-school interest subsidy a decade ago further limited the federal borrowing options for graduate education. Without access to subsidized loans, graduate students begin accruing interest immediately upon disbursement of the loan, which increases its overall cost.
“By reinstating subsidized federal student loans for graduate students, the POST GRAD Act would relieve a portion of the financial burden associated with financing a graduate degree, including in psychology.” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association. “The cost of graduate education often serves as a barrier for qualified individuals pursuing advanced degrees, including in the behavioral health care field, where shortages of skilled, culturally competent providers persist. The loss of the in-school interest subsidy has increased these costs, which are disproportionately borne by traditionally underrepresented students. APA applauds Representative Chu for introducing this critical legislation, which would make graduate study more affordable and help ensure a more diverse workforce to meet growing needs.”
Additionally, in June, APA submitted written comments (PDF, 433KB) to the Department of Education’s series of public hearings related to potential future rulemaking on student debt-related issues. Among the topics being considered by the department is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. APA’s comments focused on PSLF, highlighting the program’s dual benefits of incentivizing psychologists to enter public service careers where demand for providers is high, and lowering the debt that mental and behavioral health care professionals carry. APA provided a set of recommendations on actions that the department could take, both through the rulemaking process and those within its current authority, to expeditiously improve the administration of the program.
Finally, on August 6, the Department of Education announced that it will once again, and likely for the final time, extend the pandemic-related pause on federal student loan payments through January 31, 2022. Continuing this suspension was a high priority for APA since the previous one was announced in January. The association worked with coalition colleagues to pressure the White House (PDF, 118KB) and called on the Secretary of Education to take this action (PDF, 253KB).
For more information, contact Kenneth Polishchuk.