Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – Today, Representatives Scott Peters (D-CA-50) and Derrick Van Orden (R-WI-3) introduced bipartisan legislation to cut through red tape and make it easier for current and former military service members to receive student loan forgiveness they have earned through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. They were joined by Representatives Don Davis (D-NC-01) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) as original cosponsors.


In 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced they would automatically count military members’ service toward the PSLF program instead of requiring them to go through a lengthy and complicated certification process, but the change was never implemented because the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Defense failed to finalize a critical data-sharing agreement. This legislation will ensure that it gets done.  


“Military members have earned these benefits through blood, sweat, and service for their country, but far too many never receive the student loan forgiveness owed to them because of bureaucratic hurdles,” said Rep. Peters. “The federal government knows exactly who these benefits apply to — it just needs to share that data across agencies. Our bill will ensure servicemembers receive their benefits without any delay or burdensome paperwork.”


“Those who answered the call to serve have made great sacrifices for our nation,” said Congressman Van Orden. “Of the many challenges servicemembers and veterans face, worrying about how they will pay off their student loans should not be one of them. The Ensuring Military Access to Higher Education Benefits Act does right by our servicemen and servicewomen by removing the red tape to obtaining PSLF credit, ensuring they will not be riddled with student debt during and after their time of service.”


“Servicemembers should not have to struggle with student debt after dedicating themselves to serving our country,” said Rep. Don Davis. “We must keep the American dream within reach for our veterans who put their lives on the line and keep us safe. Forgiving student loans is the least we can do for them.”


“I am proud to introduce this legislation with Representative Van Orden to ensure America’s service members can use their military service to easily qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik. “Streamlining the process for our brave service members who selflessly serve our nation to receive the benefits they have earned is one of the many ways we can show our appreciation to them. It is incredibly important that we honor the extraordinary commitment our service members have made to our country as well as incentivize recruitment of future troops.”


"Honoring military service for Public Service Loan Forgiveness can pose unexpected challenges for service members and veterans. Despite the Department of Education's (ED) intention to collaborate with the Department of Defense (DOD) to grant borrowers automatic credit for PSLF based on their military service, those efforts have stalled," said Tammy Barlet, Vice President of Government Affairs, with Student Veterans of America (SVA). "The bipartisan Ensuring Military Access to Higher Education Benefits Act of 2023 aims to reignite this effort by requiring DOD and ED to share pertinent data, thus automatically enabling borrowers to receive PSLF credit for their qualifying military service. SVA commends Representatives Van Orden, Davis, Peters, and Stefanik for their leadership on this commonsense legislation, which ensures that military borrowers rightfully receive the PSLF credit they earned."


Specifically, their bill would require the Department of Education to complete a data-matching agreement with the Department of Defense, enabling automatic credit toward PSLF for military service members. The legislation is endorsed by Student Veterans of America and Veterans Education Success. 


Click here to read the full bill text.


The Senate companion bill is led by Senators Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Moran (R-KS).



Related Work:

Rep. Peters’ Employer Participation in Repayment Act became law as part of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). His legislation provides aid to Americans struggling to pay off college debt by making employer-provided student loan payments tax-exempt up to $5,250 a year — similar to tax exemptions for tuition assistance programs.


In 2018, Rep. Peters’ Reserve Component Vocational Rehabilitation Parity Act passed as part of the Veterans Benefits and Transition Act of 2018 to provide education and job training benefits to guardsmen and reservists called into active service. This legislation fixed an inconsistency in law that did not extend these earned benefits to all reservists and guardsmen based on what authorities they were mobilized under.


Last year, Rep. Peters reintroduced the Veterans Claims Education Act of 2023 (VCEA)  to provide educational resources for veterans filing electronic claims and to steer veterans to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) accredited entities. This would limit the ability of predatory companies to take advantage of and unfairly profit off veterans trying to access their hard-earned benefits.