Millions of Americans are all too familiar with the country's stunning student debt crisis. And when the predicament is put in stark numbers, it's not an assuring scenario at all. According to a personal finance study released earlier this year, the country has over 44 million borrowers. Moreover, the number of those getting approved for student loan forgiveness is abjectly low at the moment.
In fact, according to a CNBC report on Tuesday, of the roughly 34,000 people who applied for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, only a jaw-dropping 26 have been approved. CNBC reported that the number was announced by the Department of Education in mid-November. It's a bleak report for a country drowning in the student loan debt crisis, which has currently hit $1.5 trillion.
The outlet added that over 20,000 applications were still pending as they had yet to be approved for public service loan forgiveness. There may be some good news as this could mean that some loan borrowers still have a chance to be approved for loan forgiveness, but considering this new data from the Education Department, those chances are razor-thin.
The report doesn't seem to bode well for the whopping $350 million that the Congress gave to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The program is meant for some people in the not-for-profit sector as well as those who work for the government.
At the Education Department's yearly Federal Student Aid conference on Tuesday, Betsy DeVos called the federal aid agency a "looming crisis in higher education."
DeVos added, "Our higher ed system is the envy of the world, but if we, as a country, do not make important policy changes in the way we distribute, administer and manage federal student loans, the program on which so many students rely will be in serious jeopardy."
Critics have said that the administration that DeVos works for has not done enough to address this crisis. Among them is Virginia Democrat Sen. Tim Kaine, according to CNBC.
Kaine told CNBC that he was hoping that Donald Trump's administration would work on giving "fair consideration to the teachers, military personnel, law enforcement officers, and other public servants" who sought loan forgiveness.
The press secretary for the Education Department, Liz Hill, told CNBC that the department was trying to enact plans that were "straightforward" — while remaining within the rules dictated by the Congress.
"[These] are poorly constructed programs," Hill added, "the rules of which are highly complex and difficult for students to navigate."
It's unclear just how DeVos' department plans on fixing the overwhelming student loan debt issue. As the Associated Press noted, the secretary did not point to specific changes or ideas.
Still, DeVos said on Tuesday that the government needed to carry out an overhaul on how it approves and allots student loans at the federal level. On top of that, she said that students in the country should be given resources to pursue what's "right for them" — apart from just attending universities.