Frontline Medical Staff Race Against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) but What About Student Loan Debt Forgiveness?
Doctors, nurses, and other frontline medical staff continue to serve the population and fight against COVID-19. To thank these professionals for their selfless work, a petition has been created to forgive their student loan debt. The petition was created by Consuelo Lopez-Morillas, a professor emerita from Indiana University, Bloomington. As of April 24th, it had over 500,000 signatures. It was originally addressed to Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Kevin McCarthy and their chiefs of staff. Though not an addressee, Carolyn Maloney, a congresswoman from New York, announced on April 9th that she will introduce legislation based on this petition. Her proposal is to be titled the Student Debt Forgiveness for Frontline Health Care Workers Act. By eliminating student loan debt for those on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates hope this will bring relief both short term and long term.
The proposed bill focuses on forgiving graduate school debt for medical professionals involved in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a press release on Maloney’s website, the bill will eliminate “graduate school debt for health care workers who are providing direct patient care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The press release found on her site also notes the bill will apply to recent graduates as well as those further along in their career but still paying student loans. Under her proposed bill, those eligible are doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who are already treating COVID-19 patients or who will be moved from their current specialty to help COVID-19 patients. Though this bill is specific to frontline medical professionals, most Americans paying federal student loans are already benefitting from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Through the CARES Act, most federal student loans have a suspension of payments and interest accrual through September 30th, 2020. Many Americans are experiencing financial hardships related to this pandemic, and Maloney’s proposed legislation hopes to help relieve some burden specifically for the medical professionals at the forefront.
Frontline Medical Staff Student Loan Forgiveness
Initially, this loan forgiveness will reduce the stress of debt for frontline healthcare workers who are also tasked with keeping their patients and families healthy. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, a graduating medical student has an average of $201,500 of debt. Years of schooling, followed by years of residency, lead to this mounting sum. Whether recently graduated or near the end of paying off loans, this potential relief will most likely be welcomed. Long term, advocates for this bill hope the reduced debt will encourage medical professionals to practice in lower paying specialties as well, like family care or in rural areas.
This proposed legislation looks to relieve and thank the frontline of the medical field working to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and treat patients already infected. As the government continues to roll out support programs, this potential student loan forgiveness for medical professionals will be another bill to follow.