The start of a new presidential administration and transition of congressional power always brings in new priorities and constituent demands. With a Democratic sweep, many are hoping the government will also sweep some student loan obligations under the rug. Others are more than hoping – they’re banking on it. The Debt Collective is an organized union of individuals whose call to action is to “build a world where college is publicly funded, healthcare is universal and housing is guaranteed for all.” Their Biden Jubilee 100 is a group of student loan borrowers who have banded together to stop paying their debt during the first 100 days of the Biden presidency, in hopes of pressuring the White House to cancel student loan debts.
According to a recent CNBC article this is a part of a growing movement to ‘boycott’ student loan debt payments as an effort to pressure the government to take on student loan forgiveness. On the campaign trail, Biden had suggested a blanket $10,000 student loan forgiveness but some in Congress have pushed for $50,000.
The Biden Jubilee may be more glossy PR than anything however – many federal borrowers are already taken advantage of the option to pause student loan payments during the coronavirus pandemic, something Biden extended via executive order until September. Regardless of how long the deferment is in affect, anyone interested in pursuing a national security career should hesitate to join any movement that includes failing to pay a financial obligation – particularly one to the federal government.
Student Loans and Security Clearances
We’ve typically written about student loans being a ‘good’ debt for security clearance holders and one unlikely to result in denial, despite the fact that financial issues are the top adjudicative criteria cited in Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals denials and revocation appeals. While having student loans is not a cause of security clearance denial, failing to pay them very much is, and an increasing number of cases cite individuals who have defaulted on student loan payments. Failing to pay your student loan payments for any reason – including (or potentially especially) in an effort to sway the government to implement student loan forgiveness, can and will result in security clearance denial or revocation.
Security clearance holders are welcome to push for policy changes they believe in – so, sign a petition, call your representative, but don’t fail to follow the rule of the law or respond to debt obligations. The government has already made it clear that financial hardships stemming directly from the pandemic will not negatively impact a clearance determination. But that guidance will not equally apply if you keep up payments in other areas but fail to pay student loans as a part of a political movement – or a simple hope that the government will step in and save the day in the future.
This is likely something most current security clearance holders are aware of, but it’s a warning to those who may be interested in a government job in the future. Student loan debt -particularly debts owed to the federal government as a lender – must be reported on the SF-86, and failure to make payments can certainly result in clearance denial in the future. If paying the debt is an issue today, work with your creditors to develop a plan. Refusing to pay your debt won’t make it go away. And it certainly won’t force the government to forgive it.