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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florida. ...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Feb 9, 2021

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The majority of signatures on a recent petition to forgive a percentage of student loan debt for federal workers come from Maryland, home to 136,148 federal jobs.

Created on April 2, the White House petition cites the recently renewed federal pay freeze as the main cause of the “fiscal uncertainty” faced by federal employees, and asks that their principle loan balances be reduced by 2.2 percent for each year the pay freeze has been in effect.

As of Monday morning, the petition has logged over 700 signatures. Not surprisingly, a large portion of the support for the petition comes from areas with high concentrations of government employees.

Between April 2 and April 7 over 500 individuals signed the petition and listed a location. As shown in the chart below, the states contributing the most signatures are, with the exception of Alabama, the states with the highest number of federal employees.

State Percent of Petition Signatures Population Rank Number of Federal Employees
Maryland 10.3 19 136,148
Virginia 9.4 12 149,591
California 7.9 1 167,514
Texas 5.9 2 142,708
Alabama 4.8 23 41,744
Florida 4.6 4 90,677
District of Columbia 4.2 50 163,922
Georgia 3.9 9 79,209


The District of Columbia, which has an estimated population of 599,657 according to the U.S. Census Bureau, has the country’s second lowest population but the second highest number of federal workers. As seen in the map below, it is also at the very center of the largest clump of signatures. Nearly a quarter of all signatures on the petition originated from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Federal employees have been on the receiving end of two far sweeping austerity measures this year. In March, Congress passed legislation that extended the 2010 federal pay freeze through the end of 2013.  Budget cuts from the sequester have also set off a series of furlough days, reducing some employees’ monthly take home pay by as much as 20 percent.

Outside of the federal government, however, support for the petition may be scarce. In an unofficial poll on an blog post, the majority of respondents were not in favor of reducing student loan debt for federal workers. In response to the question, “Should federal workers have their student loans lowered based on the years their pay is frozen?” 77.16 percent answered “No Way!” while 18.89 percent said the proposal seemed fair.

Additionally, the states with no signatures are the states with some of the lowest federal employees and lowest populations. Of the signatures counted, zero originated from Wyoming, Montana, Nevada or Alaska.

State Population Rank Number of Federal Employees
Wyoming 51 5,811
Montana 44 10,249
Nevada 35 12,384
Alaska 47 12,457


Petitions filed through the White House’s “We the People” platform require at least 100,000 responses before receiving an official response from the Administration. The final day to sign the petition is May 3.