John Garamendi (Ethiopia 1966-68)

With the U.S. Department of Education announcing further steps toward student loan forgiveness, Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, was one of the lead signatories in a letter calling upon the education secretary to include Peace Corps volunteers in these changes.

Garamendi, co-chair of the Congressional Peace Corps Caucus and the only returned Peace Corps volunteer in the House of Representatives, joined Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both Democrats from Maryland, in writing a bicameral letter to U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in response to a new temporary waiver period for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program that was announced back in October.

During this period, some borrowers will be allowed to receive credit toward student loan forgiveness for periods of public service that would not have previously qualified under the program, including service in the Armed Forces.

However, Peace Corps volunteers were not included in the changes, prompting the letter from Garamendi, Cardin and Van Hollen.

Currently, Peace Corps volunteers can receive loan forgiveness if they enroll in an income-driven repayment plan that recalibrated their loan repayment based on how much they make. They may also use their Peace Corps readjustment allowance to pay off outstanding loan debt within six months of their return from service in exchange for 12 months of loan forgiveness credit. Loans may be deferred but no not qualify for forgiveness credit.

“Unfortunately, many returned Peace Corps volunteers were reportedly led to believe that deferment was their only option and are therefore precluded from having their service count towards loan repayment,” the authors wrote.

The letter was also signed by 14 other senators and congressional representatives, all Democrats. The full letter can be read at