THE JUNE 5 op-ed "Out of the hole of college debt" by Elizabeth Warren and Ganesh Sitaraman proposes that Congress pass a law in which student loans would be forgiven after the borrower engages in several years of public service.
Thanks to the efforts of Senator Edward Kennedy, Congress passed and President Bush signed such a law last year. Sections 203 and 401 of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act allow high-debt, low-income borrowers to cap loan repayments on all federally guaranteed loans at about 12 percent of their incomes. After they make 120 of these relatively low payments while working for any government agency or nonprofit organization, the government pays off and forgives all remaining principal and interest. The forgiveness is a new entitlement program, not dependent on annual federal appropriations.
Of course additional federal loan forgiveness for public servants, such as the provision included in the pending College Opportunity and Affordability Act, would be welcome. But the authors should have acknowledged the important public service loan forgiveness law that the current Congress has already passed. A Congress often criticized for doing very little should be credited for this significant achievement.
PHILIP G. SCHRAG
The writer, a professor of law at Georgetown University, is vice chairman of the Committee on Government Relations and Student Financial Aid of the American Bar Association's Section of Legal Education.