Washington state takes bold step to ease student loan burden for public servants

Gov. signs Slatter bill increasing access to Public Service Loan Forgiveness 

OLYMPIA – Governor Inslee signed House Bill 1950 into law on February 28, marking a significant move forward in easing the burden of student loan debt for public servants across Washington state. Championed by Representative Vandana Slatter (D-Bellevue) and supported by Senator Marko Liias (D-Edmonds), the bill aims to provide clarity and consistency in accessing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. 

The legislation, which received bipartisan support in the House, aligns state law with recent federal changes to the PSLF program, ensuring that public sector workers, including those in healthcare, education, behavioural health and government, have access to vital resources to manage their student loan debt. Over the past two years, more than 16,000 Washingtonians have received nearly $1 billion in loan forgiveness through the PSLF program, underlining its importance in supporting public servants. 

“This program lends a hand to workers like teachers, firefighters, nurses, and mental health counsellors so they can stay in the careers they love, serve their communities, and provide for their families,” said Representative Slatter, emphasizing the bill’s role in addressing workforce shortages in critical public service sectors. 

In addition to aligning state law with federal guidelines, HB 1950 also modifies full-time employment certification calculations to better accommodate part-time academic employees seeking PSLF benefits, further expanding access to loan forgiveness for a broader range of public servants. 

“The signing of HB 1950 represents a crucial step in recognizing the contributions of public servants and providing tangible support to help them navigate the challenges of student loan debt,” stated Senator Liias. “By enhancing the efficiency and accessibility of the PSLF program, we can ensure that our communities continue to benefit from the dedication and expertise of essential public sector workers.” 

The enactment of HB 1950 underscores Washington’s commitment to supporting its public servants and fostering economic stability by retaining skilled professionals in key public service roles. With the implementation of this legislation, state officials anticipate a more streamlined and effective process for public sector workers to access vital loan forgiveness benefits, ultimately strengthening the workforce and enhancing community well-being. 

The bill’s passage reflects bipartisan efforts to address the pressing issue of student loan debt and underscores the importance of collaborative policymaking in advancing solutions that benefit all Washingtonians. 

Washington State Representative Vandana Slatter discussing HB 1950. Image by TVW.