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Public Service Loan Forgiveness: A Bit O’Help

I only just discovered that a few of my concerns regarding student loan repayment and public service options for contingent, part time faculty were addressed back in January and March 2012.

Among the changes are a three year break on loan capitalization for borrowers who qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF) and working multiple jobs (under PSLF, borrowers must work 30 hours but can do so in multiple, qualifying public service organizations defined in the Q & A about Public Service Loan Forgiveness as “a broad range of employers, including any federal, state, or local government organization or agency and most not-for-profit organizations”). Also under the PSLF, remaining loan balances are not subject to IRS taxation.

Here are links to the docs as well as the Department of Education’s “Employment Certification for Public Service Loan Forgiveness Form”  at the Student Aid on the Web Web site:

U.S. Department of Education |  PSLF Fact Sheet

U.S. Department of Education | Q&A about Income-Based Repayment (IBR)

U.S. Department of Education | Q&A about Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

Additional info is available at the Project on Student Debt.

I wish the Obama administration and Department of Education would have more fully, widely, advertised the positive changes to PSLF. Millions of borrowers will benefit. And so will society long term.

Written by S.

June 21, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Public Service Would Help Graduates Pay Back Debt

Written by Danny Bradlow (Centre for Human Rights) and  Edward Webster in the July 11, 2016 the Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg, South Africa).

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Written by S.

July 24, 2016 at 5:44 pm

A Proposal for Public Service Forgiveness

I had a deep thought today about how adjunct and contingent faculty working part time in the public service sector might have the opportunity to fully participate in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.  Due to higher ed cutbacks, many adjuncts and contingent faculty don’t teach five courses @ 40 hours per week and thus do not qualify for participation under the current Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

Simply, the Program could be amended by adjusting the amount of payments with hours worked. The first place to start, as Deanne Loonin,** Director of National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project suggests, is to have the Department of Education define full time employment:

2. Simplify and remove inequity in the definition of full-time employment for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. (34 C.F.R. § 685.219). Section 401 of the CCRAA defines a “public service job” specifically as a full-time job, but it does not define “full-time.” In its final regulations governing public service loan forgiveness (Sec. 685.219(b)), the Department has defined “full-time” as working in qualifying employment in one or more jobs for the greater of –;

(i)(A) An annual average of at least 30 hours per week, or
(B) For a contractual or employment period of at least 8 months, an
average of 30 hours per week; or
(ii) Unless the qualifying employment is with two or more employers, the number of hours the employer considers full-time.

The second half of clause (ii) creates both unnecessary administrative complexity and inequity for individuals whose employers consider full-time to be more than 30 hours per week. Borrowers will have to submit proof of their employer’s definition of full time, and the Department will have to collect and verify this information for each borrower in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Defining full time as 30 hours per week for all applicants, would greatly simplify the administration of the program and ensure that all borrowers are treated equitably with regard to eligibility for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. (p. 5-6)

So for example, if one works less than the proposed 30 hrs/full time – let”s say 25-28 hours teaching courses at several institutions – the repayment schedule might be adjusted up from the current 120 payments to perhaps 125-130.  Or an extra service component could be added to the program. Either way, my plan would allow adjuncts and contingent faculty to participate in loan forgiveness even if they teach at several institutions in order to scrape out a living (often without benefits).  I’m not sure if the Department of Education has authority to adapt the program or if Congress must amend the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 to enable public service part timers to qualify.

According to the Digest of Education Statistics (2010), in fall 2009, there were 1.4 million faculty members in degree-granting institutions, including 0.7 million full-time and 0.7 million part-time faculty (“Faculty, Staff, and Salaries,” para. 1).  In sum: 0.7 million part time faculty teaching at colleges and universities around the U.S. can’t participate in the Public Service Loan Program even though they might teach almost full time and to boot, at several institutions.

Isn’t it time to really reward part time faculty for their public service?

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** See Loonin’s excellent proposals in Written Testimony of Deanne Loonin, Director of National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project in Response to the May 5, 2011 U.S. Department of Education Notice of Establishment of Negotiated Rulemaking Committees and Notice of Public Hearings, Submitted: May 20, 2011 at:

http://www.studentloanborrowerassistance.org/blogs/wp-content/www.studentloanborrowerassistance.org/uploads/2007/03/neg-rulemaking-may2011.pdf

Update April 20, 2012

MLA (Modern Language Association) offers a searchable database of higher ed institutions. While not current, the database lists number of tenure track faculty and adjunct and contingent faculty.

Written by S.

July 18, 2011 at 1:28 am

SB 1556 – Finally!

Since 2012, I’ve written about the lack of opportunities for borrowers when it comes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

In June 2015, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced S.B. 1556, Adjunct Faculty Loan Fairness Act of 2015.  The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN).  This legislation, if passed in law, would amend current language in the Higher Education Act of 1965 to include

“(II) as a part-time faculty member or instructor who—

“(aa) teaches not less than 1 course at an institution of higher education (as defined in section 101(a)), a postsecondary vocational institution (as defined in section 102(c)), or a Tribal College or University (as defined in section 316(b)); and

“(bb) is not employed on a full-time basis by any other employer.”

This simple, elegant solution will assist millions of teachers. Many part time, temporary faculty teach at multiple institutions and often less than 30 hours per week. Currently, these faculty are not eligible for the PSLF program. Durbin’s bill is critical to the recognition that teaching is a form of public service and that all teachers, not just those fortunate individuals in full time positions, ought to be eligible to participate.

Written by S.

October 17, 2015 at 3:35 pm

Not Sure

Bill Clinton’s speech at the DNC was rousing to say the least. The former president made some fine, reasoned, points. But 27 minutes into his speech, I’m not as confident as Bill regarding the student loan debt problem.

The former president neglected to mention that Stafford subsidized loans for graduate study were abolished by the current Administration, thus removing a safety bubble for penny-pinched grad students. And affordability of higher education is still very much an issue across the range of degrees and programs, especially in the depressed economy.

Bill is right in his assessment of the Obama administration’s Pay as You Earn program. The Program is a solid step in the right direction. Pay as You Earn will help those borrowers with a steady income and manageable monthly expenses; coupled with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, signed by the previous administration in 2007, there is now a “package” for borrowers to strategize repayment.

But I am guarded. We borrowers are not out of the woods just yet. Issues such as capitalized interest, which adds to the overall student loan debt, as well as “senior” citizen student debt burden are still significant problems. There is still room for improvement on the student loan repayment frontier.

Written by S.

September 9, 2012 at 3:31 am