college graduates throwing caps


Protect Public Service Loan Forgiveness


Donald Trump’s budget proposes ending the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which allows borrowers to have loans forgiven after making 10 years of qualified payments and working in government service or approved nonprofits. We need to protect this program!

How to Qualify

for Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Ashlee, MD

I was lucky enough go through college and graduate school knowing what I wanted to do with my career. From early on in my undergraduate training, I knew I wanted to be in healthcare. I worked very hard, was very successful in all of my schooling and training, and now have a faculty position at one of the top university hospitals in the world doing research and participating in the highest level of patient care. The problem is the years of student debt accumulation ($200k) and subpar resident and fellowship salaries for years after. Even now as a faculty member at an academic institution, the average salary is around $30-50k less than that of private practice colleagues. I am swimming in student loan debt and would be a financial disaster without the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. This program is extremely instrumental for me to continue doing the work that I love by contributing to the field through research and multi-disciplinary collaborative efforts. Without the PSLF program, I would honestly have to give up my career in academia for a personally less fulfilling job just to survive financially.

—Ashlee, MD
Christina, TX

I share my story because I know PSLF is currently under threat with this administration's proposed FY19 budget. The prospect of PSLF helped me get an advanced degree, a degree that has helped me become a better nonprofit professional, a better leader, and better able to make a positive impact on my organization and the nonprofit sector.

—Christina, TX
Chris, NY

My student loan debt is currently $238,935.49. When I was on a standard ten year repayment plan my payment was over $2000 a month. While applying for a income driven repayment plan to take advantage of public service loan forgiveness I placed my loans on a forbearance which resulted in interest charges of $27,997.32. But will hopefully not be an issue. It seems crazy to me that the fed funds rate is currently 1.25% but my interest rates are between 6.5 and 8%. A moot point with PSLF. If I had the same rate as big banks, repayment would have been possible. Without PSLF I would be really struggling. I don't understand how the other loan forgiveness are of much benefit as people will currently be taxed on the amount forgiven. In my case, if my loans were forgiven without PSLF I would owe more in taxes than I make in a year! Fortunately, with PSLF I won't have to save money to pay that tax bill! Please keep up your efforts to keep this program going! I wish all my payments counted toward the payback time, especially when I was paying much more than my income based plan. I suppose beggars can't be choosers.

—Chris, NY
Meegen, CA

I have been struggling to pay my student loans for years. But with the PSLF program - at least I know there is light at the end of the tunnel. WIthout an Income Driven Repayment Plan I would be homeless. This program is ESSENTIAL to get qualified people to work in government and nonprofit sectors

—Meegen, CA
Lisa, WA

I'm barely making it on the IBR payments in on. I've already been through bankruptcy in 2017 due to high medical bills--but I still have +100k in student loan debt. The only thing that keeps me going is PSLF in 8 more years. PLUS, I am caring for a parent who is in default on her student loans because she has encountered age discrimination when looking for work. All student loans should really be forgiven. The forgiveness would grow the economy and give some if us a second chance which, ironically, a lot of us went to school for in the first place!

—Lisa, WA
Veronica, DC

I work in an ngo, fighting for solutions to end extreme poverty worldwide. I live in DC, even while biking, cooking and other extras I struggle to make ends meet. I want to do my masters and dream of being able to continue my education. I already have debt from undergrad, even though I worked full time during undergrad. I need the PSLF in order to get my masters degree and continue doing the work I do.

—Veronica, DC
Gretchen, OH

I thought I was doing things right. I enrolled in PSLF. I was working a qualifying job. But when I submitted my paperwork to certify my employment and count my qualifying payments they told me I had made 6 qualifying payments in 7 years. I interrogated the agent for 45 minutes over this. They said that at some point I had paid about 20 cents extra. And then consistently paid 20 cents over for many months. Which put my loans in “paid ahead status” which made those payments not count. Another month I paid 20 cents too little. So my next month’s statement was for 20 cents more than usual. So neither of those payments counted. Other months I had the money 2 weeks before due date so I paid it. But that meant my payment due Dec 7 was paid in November. Does not qualify. Somehow enough of these “errors” happened in 7 years so that only 6 of my payments were counted. I’ve started to look at private sector jobs because I’ve lost hope my loans will ever be forgiven in this program.

—Gretchen, OH
Terra, CA

I entered graduate school and took on student debt with the understanding that I would qualify for Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness as a librarian in a public library. Now, when I am three months away from graduating, this program is on the chopping block and if it is eliminated, I will likely just miss the window to be grandfathered into the program. I am terrified of being unable to pay off my loans and having my debt rule my life. Please fight for this program and for all of us who are working on the front lines in public service jobs.

—Terra, CA
Cliff, CT

I am relying entirely on PSLF. So many of us have shaped our life planning around PSLF and eliminating it would shatter millions of peoples finances. I CHOOSE to work with the Veterans Administration because I believe in helping our veterans. If I was no longer able to get PSLF through working at a government organization I and thousands others would FLEE the system for private sector jobs that simply pay better. I am pretty disciplined in money management but trying to save money with a family is still incredibly hard enough already with a significant percentage of my paycheck devoted to loans. Taking away PSLF seems like it simply should not be legal, especially for those of us that have been invested in the program for years already.

—Cliff, CT
Sarah, MA

If Trump's administration were to eliminate PAYE or Public Services Loan Forgiveness my entire family would suffer incredible hardship from my student loan debt. It would impact not only our current situation, but my daughter's future. I work in a career that I love but that pays little, the amount of money that it costs to receive a Master's degree to pursue this line of work far out weighs any financial return after graduating. PSLF was a beacon of light. To hear Trump is threatening that for me and the many others who are relying on it is devastating.

—Sarah, MA
Nicole, HI

I have a ridiculously large amount of student debt and a relatively low paying job as a teacher at a Title 1 elementary school. My entire financial future has seemed to revolve around managing this beast of debt. The Public Service Forgiveness Act as been the light at the end of the tunnel. A fresh start from student debt and a thank you for my public service. Now there is no light. Just darkness as I think of Trump and DeVos turning their back on a promise made to me and so many others. I'm losing hope and need your organization to continue to fight for us as I fight to shape a brighter future in my classroom everyday.

—Nicole, HI
Danielle, VT

I just read the article in the New York Times about the Student Loan Forgiveness Program. I have been enrolled in the program since 2009. However, my first 2 years of repayments do not count since I selected the wrong repayment plan. I did not realize this until I called to check on the status of my repayments. I was so upset to learn that I had made this error. However, it did not make any sense why I would bother to fill out the application only to select the wrong repayment plan. It was so confusing and I have called several times to try to get the first 2 years to count. One woman I spoke with told me it would take an act of Congress. She also told me others experienced the same problem. It feels unfair. When I saw Natalia Abrams from your organization was involved in this fight, I found hope. I have worked at non-profit organizations for almost my entire career. I earned my MPA in 2005 and I just have a lot of student loan debt. Anything we can do to make sure this program lives up to its promise when I finally get to the end of the 10 years would be wonderful. This article scared me! Thanks so much for all that you do.

—Danielle, VT
Harry, MO

Our daughter is just about to complete 17 straight years of college and professional training to become a pediatric rheumatologist, one of the lowest paid (if not the lowest) field of medicine. She cares for children with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and other devastating autoimmune diseases. She first graduated from pharmacy school, then medical school, then completed residency in pediatrics and now about to finish 3 year fellowship in pediatric rheumatology. This combination of training makes her uniquely qualified to help these kids. There aren't many like her. I won't share the total debt this has required because it's hard to believe. All along we knew that she was not going to make a great deal of money but the loan forgiveness program made it far more palatable and provided a light at the end of the debt tunnel. It's hard to imagine that Mr. Trump and Ms. DeVos would renege on this long standing promise and turn the life of my daughter upside down along with so many others who will serve America in unique ways. These kids are among our best and brightest. We are all astonished at the heartlessness of these people. How do they sleep?

—Harry, MO
Kayla, NY

I am finishing my ninth year as a middle and high school English teacher this spring. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program forgives federal loans after 10 years of payment. I currently owe $44,000 in loans eligible for PSLF. I have not missed payments. However, at the end of this school year the PSLF program will only recognize 2 years worth of payments, meaning that I will still be another 8 years away from having my loans forgiven. I went to a state school, SUNY Potsdam, for both my undergraduate and master's degrees. I have worked for two low income public schools in the North Country. I currently teach at one of the poorest districts in the poorest county in New York State.

—Kayla, NY
Haylee, VA

When I graduated in 2011, I immediately knew that I would utilize the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) and I repeatedly called FedLoan Servicing to make sure I had everything correct in my account to qualify for the plan. I was always told everything correct and there was no issue. In December of 2014, I received an email from FedLoan Servicing notifying me that my loans may be eligible for Public Service Forgiveness. Since I already believed my loans qualified for forgiveness, I called to inquire. It turned out over half of my loans didn't qualify for the Public Service Forgiveness Program as they weren't the correct type of loan. They informed me that I needed to consolidate the loans that weren't Direct Loans and after the consolidation the monthly payments would count towards PSLF.

—Haylee, VA
Abigail, ID

I'm from a lower-middle class family, the youngest of seven children born to a father and mother dedicated to public service and ministry. I graduated top of my class from high school, did many extracurriculars, got my Associate degree, and moved away to build a life...But my poverty background and over 4.0 merits did not get me the financial aid or scholarships that I thought they would. I got more degrees, thinking I just needed to work harder. I've been in public service, ministry, and non-profit work full-time, using all my education to help others, and yet here I am paying 1/2 of my monthly income to pay my loan debts.

—Abigail, ID
Caroline, NJ

My student debt is crippling. It is something that worries me constantly and I wonder if I will ever pay it off in my lifetime. The career for which I accumulated all of my debt was left because I did not make enough money to pay my $1,000 monthly loan payments. I became a teacher, a career I now love, with the hopes of one day having some of my debt forgiven for my public service. One year, my entire salary went towards my loan payments and daycare. I made no money. Thank God I have a supportive husband. My interest rates on private loans are too high and they do not negotiate. If my husband and I file our taxes separately so I qualify for IBR, we would pay more in taxes because we would lose other tax credits. For those who are single or do not have children the program is fine, but what do the rest of us do? Plus, for public service loan forgiveness, the qualifications are too narrow, I worry one day that there will be a loop hole in order for me not to qualify. It is so depressing. Others have terrible stories. The system needs to be fixed. People are suffering while others are making money while we try to do the right thing.

—Caroline, NJ
Linda, CA

Please ensure the student loan forgiveness program is not ended by the current administration. I've worked hard to obtain my degree in City Planning, I was a single mother on federal assistance and feel I've been a great example to my daughter. I promised to work as a public servant in return for the HUD grant for my degree. I left Iowa after I couldn't get a job and was hired to work for the County of Napa. I live in a town amongst a county filled with wealthy winery and vineyard owners. I will never be as rich as them and that's ok. I've been living a fulfilling life helping the public. The payments on my student loan prevent me from owning a fancy new car and it limits my life in a variety of other ways. I've been working for the County for a little over ten years and other than a one year break in payments (due to my treatment for breast cancer) I've mad enough payments and hope to be forgiven soon.

—Linda, CA
Kelli, IN

I went back to school in my 30s. I worked hard to get my degree. I now have a job that nets about $23,000 a year. I need the Public Loan Forgiveness Program or I will have no hope of being able to repay my loans. Please do not eliminate this program. To people like me it will make the difference between being able to think about retirement in my 60's or being homeless.

—Kelli, IN
Jackie, CT

As a teacher, I needed to get my masters. As an artist, I'd always dreamed of getting my MFA (masters in fine art). I decided (with the support of my husband -after I was told I'd likely never conceive a child), to take on my dream and go to New York and get my MFA in documentary film (you know, to change the world by making films on world hunger). I attended Hofstra University, took out loans to the tune of 120k and finished my MFA in 3 years full time. I worked hard, maintained my GPA and got grants to travel to Africa to make a films about charity work and wildlife conservation efforts. Once I was done, I came back and returned to public school teaching (my certification is in art), thinking I'd keep teaching until my films could show and I could get some college teaching under my belt. And then I got pregnant by some miracle. Shocked, and beyond happy, I didn't expect my family to grow. I am still teaching and we have a small house we bought that needs work. When I finished my degree, I found out I was pregnant all about the same time and was under stress. I was contacted shortly after by a company called the Student Loan Project who promised to get me into a loan forgiveness program and consolidate my loans and lower my payments (from $834 a month) for a fee of $550 up front and a monthly $49 fee there after. Pregnant and emotional I figured it was worth it (not thinking much about it. I signed up. They did consolidate my loans, submitted paperwork on my behalf and I did get a letter stating my new payments were $0 a month (from FedLoan). I was happy as could be. the following year, I had to re-certify my info (resubmit my IBR paperwork, taxes etc.) so the company called for my updated tax info etc. I supplied it and let them do the work, not thinking much about it. In about November (several months after re-certification) I decided I didn't want to continue to pay the $49/month for paperwork I could probably figure out myself every year if I did my own research so I called to cancel my "subscription." Everything was fine. Fast forward to now... I re-certified and resubmitted my forms for IBR to get my adjusted loan payments, expecting things to not drastically change since nothing has really changed, and instead got the shock of my life when I got my adjusted payment notice. For the last two years, I got my notice of $0 qualifying payment, and this year I got my adjusted $815 / month payment on IBR. I almost threw up. I immediately logged in and pulled the forms that this old student loan project had submitted and realized they lied on my forms -stating I had 4 dependents, my name was my nick name, my wrong email address and my taxes were filed separately instead of jointly. I cant believe I've let this happen. As soon as I realized my payment was so high, I called and just asked why it was changed, and they said it was because I no longer had a family of 6 and my income was not longer so small... I don't even know what is going to happen, but I'm really sick to my stomach. I don't know if I'll be pulled from the loan forgiveness program, if my last two years will qualify anymore, if my years of service will count, if anything will even be resolved or if I'll be penalized for the thing that isn't my fault in reality even though it is for trusting this scam company to help. I feel like my degree was never worth this. I'm worried I'll be homeless and I've done the worst thing I could have done for my family.

—Jackie, CT
Kelley, NJ

Trump and DeVos proposed ending the federal student loan forgiveness program for public sector and nonprofit workers, and lengthen the amount of time Americans will have to spend repaying their debts on income-based plans if they borrowed to get an advanced degree. I am a social worker working for a lesser wage in public service who borrowed for graduate school and I am essentially relying on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to retire this debt. In general, Americans pay social workers pretty terribly, especially considering the educational investment necessary for the job we do. I don't think I need to go into detail here about the important services we provide to clients. Giving us a break on our student debt is one way to make these lines of work accessible to people who aren't independently wealthy, or at least somewhat appealing to people who could otherwise go into more lucrative private work. With all of that said, Trump's plan to eliminate this program is a sick joke. A billionaire president and billionaire education secretary, neither of whom spent a single day of their lives in public service before stumbling their way into positions of immense power, are targeting a program that's basically meant to make life in underpaid government work a little more tenable. And don't talk to me about budget savings when this same administration is currently planning a historic tax cut for the rich. If you're even going to talk about fixing the budget, maybe try balancing it on the back of hedge funders first before financially destroying public servants. Basically, I am on the Income Driven Repayment plan working to pay off my loan and if this is abolished, I am certain I will not be able to make the payments.

—Kelley, NJ
Melissa, WA

I am a teacher in Seattle who can't afford to live in my school's neighborhood. One of the reasons is my $400+ a month payment I'm making on my student loans, degrees that I needed in order to be hired for my job. When I was hired in Seattle it was very competitive and a master's degree was crucial in getting hired. Now I am living paycheck to paycheck, currently in debt from the amount of school supplies I just purchased for the upcoming school year. I have been paying $400 a month for 5 years and my principal amount has not changed. I won't be able to afford buying a home, providing for my own child who I hope to one day have, and will continue to struggle month to month. It is unjust to take away a program that puts the quality of our lives in jeopardy.

—Melissa, WA
Deevy, OR

My husband and I are public employees. We are on the income-based repayment and Public Service Forgiveness program paying a loan that was consolidated with his former wife's before he and knew each other. Even the IBR is a significant monthly payment. Without it, our loan payment would require nearly 50% of my husband's monthly paycheck. We are making good on another persons loan and paying faithfully each month. We are very concerned about the prospect of Public Service Forgiveness elimination, not only for ourselves and our child who is entering college this year in hopes of serving her country rather than her wallet, but many other individuals who seek a higher purpose in their working lives by entering public service.

—Deevy, OR
Shannon, FL

I am the first in my family to earn a college degree thanks to programs such as the Pell Grant. I am currently working in a Title I school system with the income driven payment plan and public service foregiveness plan. Our teachers cannot afford anymore cuts as they struggle now to survive! Don't pass these cuts, please!

—Shannon, FL
Melody, CA

As a school psychologist, I know first hand that the PSLF program is critical for keeping and recruiting educators in this country. It is a travesty when education becomes the right of only the wealthy in this country. Please represent the people of this country as you are elected to do and do not pass this budget as written.

—Melody, CA
Adam, CA

For 5 years I have been holding up my end of the bargain, dutifully making on-time payments towards PSLF every single month for at least 60 straight months. If PSLF is discarded, I will have been cheated and robbed by Betsy Devos and Donald Trump. The Federal Government must hold up their end of the bargain. Had I known 5 years ago that PSLF would be scrapped in favor of tax cuts for billionaires, I would’ve chosen an alternate plan.

—Adam, CA
Amber, VA

I knowingly took a $25k pay cut to work as an occupational therpaist for a school district. If PSLF is cut, there’s no way I’ll be able to serve the students I currently work with across 6 different schools and I’ll be paying loans til atleast the age of 55.

—Amber, VA
Nicole, CA

If PSLF and IBR programs are eliminated my loan payments will cost over ⅓ of my teaching salary. I believe in my right and my students’ right to high quality education whether or not they come from a wealthy family.

—Nicole, CA
Kimberly, OH

I work at a non-profit mental health agency. Without IBR and PSLF my monthly student loan payments will be more than my rent! I’m 10 years from retirement but with news of PSLF and IBR on the chopping bliock I’m starting to worry that all my payments would’ve been for nothing.

—Kimberly, OH
Natalie, MA

I’m the first in my family to go to school and it was very important to myself and my family that I get a college education, no matter the amount of loans I would inevitably have to take on. I’ve been relying on PSLF program since I first dreamt of being a legal aid attorney in high school.

—Natalie, MA
Jeanette, CO

The only light at the end of the tunnel for me is PSLF. Even though I’ve been making consistent payments, the balance on my loans only continues to go up, not down, due to interest. I’m afraid if PSLF is taken from me that I can expect my retirement and social security to be taken from me to pay down my debt.

—Jeanette, CO
Kristin, FL

I’m a mother of 4 and currently in school. If you cut these programs you will create a domino effect that will have a negative impact. I went to school for a better life for myself and my children. In pursuit of trying to achieving the American Dream, I’m afraid that dream will become a nightmare.

—Kristin, FL
Dana, TN

I feel foolish for dreaming of becoming a lawyer. My JD is now a noose around my neck. It has stolen life; and I now face a retirement of poverty.

—Dana, TN
Jill, NY

I’m a public school teacher that unfortunately will never be able to realize the dream of having my own children. I live paycheck to paycheck. If PSLF goes away, I will likely have to default as much as that is something I never have to want to do.

—Jill, NY
Lisa, NC

I went back to school after dropping out of high school and completed two degrees by the time I turned 40. I only went back to school to increase my earning potential. Four years into PSLF I’m learning it may be cut; this radically changes my cost benefit analysis of whether or not it was even worth going back to college to begin with.

—Lisa, NC
Ben, LA

Cutting the PSLF program would mean I will be paying on this loan for the rest of my life (I’m 45). There has to be a better way. Education is a public good and not one for which we should be saddled with debt for the rest of our lives on the mere hope that we get a good job one day.

—Ben, LA
Veronica, TX

There’s nothing better than knowing that after putting a drop in the bucket every single month, I’ll still be paying student loans for the rest of my life, will never buy a house, or ever even have children. *sarcasm*

—Veronica, TX
Nicole, NJ

Cutting the PSLF program would be a financial disaster for our family and millions of others like us. It would be extremely irresponsible to just cut off the program and leave vulnerable borrowers hanging. Please consider policy changes carefully.

—Nicole, NJ
Sharon, NE

As a vet I have to say, thank god for the PSLF forgiveness measure. Stop putting students who are trying to get ahead further behind for the sake of the greedy 1%.

—Sharon, NE
Lisa, WA

Ending PSLF will end me.

—Lisa, WA
Lindsay, MA

I’m enrolled in PSLF, have TWO jobs, and I STILL cannot afford to live independantly. Taking away the only protection I have from being consumed by debt would render me incapable of making my payments, which isn’t good for me nor for the government. Keep PSLF and IMPROVE IT for people who are passionate about helping their communities. We deserve better.

—Lindsay, MA
Lindsey, NC

If the government’s end of this bargain is not met, it will just perpetuate our intergenerational cycle of struggle.

—Lindsey, NC
Kate, IA

As a first generation college student, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I started taking on student loan debt. But I knew I wanted to go to college and that it was the only way to get there. I have been teaching at my current institution for nearly 10 years, but have barely made a dent in the six-digit debt that I have.-Kate, IA

—Kate, IA
Rachel, NV

Mental health services are desperately needed in Nevada, which is why I went to school to be a clinical social worker in my state. Without PSLF, I couldn’t fullfill my dream of helping people in need to live the lives they want to live, I also would be struglling to live my own.

—Rachel, NV
Elizabeth, CO

I knew when I went to law school that I wanted to help people and provide services to those who truly needed it. I work with victims of domestic violence and I need the PSLF program to pay my student loans which are close to 200k. There is no way I could pay that off in my current position. Our lawyers provide a valuable service to those who need it and we need to help graduates who go into public service with their student loans.

—Elizabeth, CO
Jennilee, LA

I took out over $60K in federal student loans to pay for my Masters in Nursing which allows me to improve health care for hundreds of patients across my hospital instead of just the few patients I could personally care for. I would not have made this decision if it weren't for the PSLF program; which I was promised would forgive my loan debt after 10 years working for a non-profit. Getting rid of PSLF would be not only broken trust, but a disservice to the other students who would love to use this opportunity to make a bigger difference in their world.

—Jennilee, LA
Joanie, GA

My passion in life is to help eliminate the death penalty. I worked for years as a litigation consultant in the private sector which was a very lucrative field. I left the field to follow my passion to fight for those facing the death penalty. If I didn't have the PSLF I never could have switched fields. It profoundly saddens me to think of how many people wanting to go into fields they have a passion for that pay very little won't ever follow their passion if they don't have help with their student loans. We should help those who choose to go into fields where they make very little money to follow their passion by helping others.

—Joanie, GA
Lisa, NY

I graduated in 2007 with $25,000 in Bachelors Degree debt and $68,000 in Graduate school debt. I was fortunate to start my career a little more than 6 months later but immediately began Income Based Repayment due to my entry level position in Higher Education. I had to remain on Income Based repayment and Interest Only Repayment for the Undergraduate loans and when I had my son and quit my additional part time job I went on forbearance for my graduate loans for 3 years. My loans went up to a total of $122,000. Now going through a divorce, I was able to sell my house and pay off my undergraduate loans ...$23,000 after paying for 10 years.....and with over $98,000 left in Grad school loans. All of my payments to Navient did not qualify for Federal Student Loan Forgiveness so instead of having 80 payments I have 15. It feels like starting over from the beginning. If PSLF remains I will pay an additional $34,000 total and I've already paid so much for a decade. If it is taken away I will go back to feeling like it will never be paid off, because it just keeps growing. I am a single mother with a masters degree and a good stable career but I can't even move out of my parents house at this point in my life. I don't know how I'm supposed to pay off $98,000. I could have gotten on my feet a lot quicker if I didn't pay off the undergraduate loans but I couldn't have this hanging over my head any longer or afford the payments for both sets of loans. This was a necessary evil and I just hope that PSLF remains in effect because I'm on year 2 and I really feel like its the only way I'm going to ever be debt free

—Lisa, NY
Trisha, NJ

I was certified for PSLF by FedLoan. My monthly payment was nearly doubled to meet qualifying payments. Since the payments were too high I opted for standard payments, which cannot be applied to loan forgiveness. The whole thing seems like a lecherous scam.

—Trisha, NJ

I have worked since I was 16 years old. I worked 30 hours a week while attending college full-time. I graduated with a 3.85 GPA. I have worked ever since I graduated. I need the Public Service Loan Forgiveness. If it's cut, then my life is over.


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