AFT president speaks out against problems with student loan forgiveness program

Eleven years ago, Congress created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to forgive the education debts of borrowers who dedicate a decade of their lives to jobs in the public sector–including teachers–and who make ongoing payments for those 10 years.

Texas AFT and our national affiliate, the American Federation of Teachers, have included the program as one of the components of our Student Debt Clinics, which help school employees saddled with school loans to reduce payments. We’ve sponsored these clinics at several of our local unions throughout the state, and we’ll give you heads up via the Hotline when clinics are scheduled again.

But AFT President Randi Weingarten now points out that the loan forgiveness program has significant problems, including only a small percentage of applicants approved, because the contractors hired by the Department of Education to manage the program aren’t doing the job they are supposed to in educating and verifying applicants.

“Educators and other school personnel have walked out to demand a living wage in exchange for the jobs they love,” AFT President Randi Weingarten writes in a New York Times op-ed. “Teachers are working in fast food restaurants or selling plasma to pay their bills. By failing to ensure that public service loan forgiveness operates as intended, the Education Department is condemning them to a lifetime sentence in debt.”

But we’re not giving up on this worthwhile program, and AFT intends to fight to ensure applicants get the loan forgiveness they deserve. Read more from Weingarten’s op-ed here.


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