Stafford Loan Justice

Archive for the ‘Part time faculty’ Category

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

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

Food stamps

From The Chronicle, an article on adjunct instructor Dr. Melissa Bruninga-Matteau, who in order to make ends meet, receives food stamps.

The article mentions the burden of student loan repayment for contingent and part time faculty, so again I ask, isn’t it time to consider amending the Public Service Loan program?

Written by S.

May 9, 2012 at 1:21 am

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?


** 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:

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

Stafford Tidbit #2: Forgiveness

The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 (Pub L 110-84, 20 USC 1001, September 27, 2007), Title IV “Loan Forgiveness,” outlines the scope of loan forgiveness. Loan forgiveness occurs after 120 payments, and is available to borrowers who are “(ii) employed in a public service job during the period in which the borrower makes each of the 120 payments described in subparagraph (A),” and a few other criteria. A “public service job” is defined as

“a full-time job in emergency management,  military service, public safety, law enforcement, public health, public education (including early childhood education), social work in a public child or family service agency, public interest law services (including prosecution or public defense or legal advocacy in low-income communities at a nonprofit organization), public child care, public service for individuals with disabilities, public service for the elderly, public library sciences, school-based library sciences and other school-based services, or at an organization that is described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of such Code; or

‘(ii) teaching as a full-time faculty member at a Tribal College or University as defined in section 316(b) and other faculty teaching in high-needs areas, as determined by the Secretary.’’

Sadly, millions of adjunct faculty, of which the higher education system depends, will never meet this criteria.

As an example, if one teaches full time one semester or year, and part time the following semester or year due to department cuts or downsizing,  this is not considered a full time. The missing word from the law is continuous employment.

Not helpful Congress.

Full time tenure track jobs in certain areas  such as the humanities and liberal arts are rare these days. And if one applies for a full time faculty position outside the U.S., (where teaching jobs seem to be),  the loan forgiveness “benefit” is not available to many borrowers.

Written by S.

April 10, 2010 at 10:54 pm