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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 2, 2020 09:46 AM
From: Representative Angel Cruz
To: All House members
Subject: Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Healthcare Workers Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we have witnessed Pennsylvania’s frontline healthcare workers operate in extraordinarily difficult circumstances to provide care for critically ill COVID-19 patients and protect our communities. As the number of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise across the Commonwealth, the demands on these employees has only increased. Every day that these employees go to work they are putting themselves – and their families that they return home to – in danger of contracting COVID-19. To date, more than 14,600 of the Commonwealth’s total cases are among health care workers.

As we recognize the service and sacrifice of frontline healthcare workers amidst this crisis, we must also remember that many of those serving in these professions could not have done so without taking on significant student loan debt. With national student debt more than doubling over the last decade, healthcare professionals often account for some of the largest loan amounts. An estimated 70 percent of American nurses graduate from college programs with between $40,000 and $55,000 in student loan debt. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, more than three-quarters of all medical school students graduate with a median debt load of about $200,000.

At a time when their duties require more focus and attention than ever, our frontline healthcare workers should not be burdened by fears relating to their financial security due to student loans incurred to perform this vital work. We must recognize the sacrifices that these employees have made – and continue to make – throughout this unprecedented time. In recognition of the critical role that they have played in the Commonwealth’s response, I will be introducing legislation shortly creating a targeted, loan forgiveness program to support frontline healthcare workers that have worked during the COVID-19 pandemic.