WASHINGTON —The National Education Association, America’s largest labor union, released the following statement in reaction to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announcement of a significant overhaul to the broken Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program:
“America’s educators thank Secretary Cardona and the Biden-Harris administration for overhauling the PSLF program today. This could not have happened without the activism of more than 48,000 NEA members who sent letters and public comments to ED regarding the broken PSLF program. This is a welcome step towards keeping the promise of PSLF and cancelling the student debt of every educator who has served their commitment to their communities.”
NEA leads a coalition of more than 200 organizations advocating for the cancelation of all student debt held by educators and other public service workers with 10 years or more of experience, as promised by the PSLF program. In recent months, NEA members have submitted more than 48,000 letters and public comments to ED imploring the Department to uphold the promise of PSLF.
The Department of Education’s PSLF Program is supposed to forgive the student debt of public service workers—such as educators, fire fighters, health care professionals, and librarians—who have served their communities while making consistent payments on their student debt for 10 years. Yet only a tiny fraction of these workers have had their student debt forgiven. Even as educators, nurses, firefighters, and other public service workers have held us together during the pandemic, PSLF continued to fail.
Today’s announcement comes on the heels of NEA’s recent first-of-its-kind research into the impact of mountains of student debt held by educators, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the financial struggle for education workers. The study found that outstanding student loans are a significant hinderance to the financial lives of all educators, regardless of years of experience. The report also found large disparities in amounts borrowed and owed for educators of color, particularly Black educators. In line with research on student loan debt within the general population, the study found that student loans play a significant role in the financial lives of many educators and have disproportionate impacts on specific subgroups. NEA has continually advocated for the cancelation of all student debt held by educators with 10 years or more of experience, as promised by the PSLF program.
NEA is making principals, experts and affected educators on student debt available for interview regarding this report. Requests can be sent to Richard Allen Smith, NEA Communications, at email@example.com.
- Richard Allen Smith