PSLF changes lives
There’s been much hue and cry over the past month from critics of President Joe Biden and his decision last month to cancel student debt for borrowers with federal student loans.
Time and time again, they clutch their pearls and bemoan the president’s move to cancel up to $10,000 in federal student loans for people making under $125,000 a year, calling it a scam and a grossly unfair, government handout.
Of course, some of these naysayers are the same people who accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal government loan forgiveness under the COVID-era Paycheck Protection Program.
But that’s another story for another day.
Certainly, United University Professions, the union that I lead, supports President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan.
But what concerns—and irks—me is that people are linking the president’s student debt cancellation with the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. As a result, PSLF has unfairly being branded as yet another government giveaway to self-serving, undeserving public servants—and driven by organized labor.
Let me make this clear: Other than being designed to help reduce student debt, these programs have no connection whatever.
Created in 2007, PSLF allows borrowers who work in nonprofit or government jobs for 10 years or more to get their federal loans forgiven after making 120 payments. By offering debt forgiveness, the hope was that PSLF would attract talented professionals to careers in public service.
This isn’t a handout or a giveaway. This program, created under a Republican administration and approved by a bipartisan Congress 15 years ago, is meant as an incentive to professionals considering careers in public service.
This is a promise to people in 34 million job titles across the country who chose careers in public service. I’m talking about firefighters, police officers, first responders, nurses, teachers, and every job title represented by UUP. You work for 10 years or more, make your school loan payments, and we, the government, will waive the rest. This is a reward for serving the public. A job well done.
And yes, unions are very involved in promoting PSLF. Certainly, UUP is.
UUP has been offering student debt clinics since 2017. Led by statewide Secretary-Treasurer Jeri O’Bryan-Losee, our clinics walk UUP members through the confusing process of achieving debt forgiveness through PSLF. So far, UUP members who have attended our clinics have had more than $2 million dollars in debt forgiven.
Jeri, by the way, had $74,000 in student loans forgiven through PSLF. And there is much work left to do.
This month, we are holding 11 additional clinics, so our members can take advantage of a limited PSLF waiver enacted by the Biden Administration in October 2021.
And I do mean limited. The waiver, which temporarily sets aside the program’s complex repayment rules, expires October 31.
With the waiver, borrowers can receive PSLF credit for past payments made under any repayment plan through September 30th, 2021. Overpayments, underpayments and payments made on a date other than the loan due date qualify.
The waiver also allows for PSLF rejection analysis. If your application for PSLF has been rejected, you can refile, with the possibility that payments that weren’t counted will be.
If you’re a public servant who qualifies for PSLF but retired without putting your paperwork in, you can still file for loan forgiveness under the waiver. That goes for people who worked for more than 10 years in public service and left for a private sector job.
But you’ve got to act fast. Like right now. Today.
That’s why I’m on your radio, to spread the word about this life-changing program, and rebuke those who would disparage it.
That’s what PSLF does. It changes lives. I know. I’ve seen it.
Dr. Fred Kowal is President of the 35,000 member United University Professions, which represents faculty on 29 New York State Campuses. UUP is an affiliate of NYSUT, The American Federation of Teachers, The National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.
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