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Some federal loan borrowers who were denied access to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program could get a second chance to see their educational debt erased thanks to a closely watched lawsuit brought by the American Bar Association and several of its employees.

In a case expected to have wider implications than for just ABA employees, a federal judge Feb. 22 largely sided with the plaintiffs, who worked at—or hoped to work in—the ABA’s pro bono programs or other public interest organizations. Those plaintiffs had been informed by the U.S. Department of Education that they were not eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness because the ABA or their other organizations were not qualified employers. Several of the plaintiffs were initially told by their loan servicers that they qualified under the program, only to later be denied.

Judge Timothy Kelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Education Department had changed its eligibility requirements and interpretations midstream, without notice and that it must reconsider the applications of three of the four plaintiffs who were denied access to Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

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Karen Sloan

Karen Sloan is the Legal Education Editor and Senior Writer at ALM. Contact her at [email protected] On Twitter: @KarenSloanNLJ Sign up for Ahead of the Curve—her weekly email update on trends and innovation in legal education—here: https://www.law.com/briefings/ahead-of-the-curve/

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