Saturday, November 27, 2021


Don't want the hassles of Black Friday - consider a refurbished gift this year; day after Thanksgiving travel could be messy - and supporters regroup for recreational marijuana in South Dakota.


Big retailers predict an historic holiday shopping season, but small businesses are not sharing that optimism, and economists weigh in on what s behind the nation's labor shortages.


South Dakota foster kids find homes with Native families; a conservative group wants oil and gas reform; rural Pennsylvania residents object to planes flying above tree tops; and poetry debuts to celebrate the land.

Student Loan Forgiveness Overhaul Could Mean Big Changes for PA Educators


Thursday, October 7, 2021   

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Major changes are on their way to the U.S. Department of Education's Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which could have a big impact on some of Pennsylvania's educators.

The program was created in 2007 and meant to provide student-loan relief to public-service workers, including teachers, paraprofessionals and professors, but it has long been plagued by bureaucratic issues that have made it difficult to qualify.

The changes announced Wednesday allow eligible borrowers to complete a waiver to count all payments toward the forgiveness program, regardless of the loan program or payment plan.

Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education, said the department is ready to right the wrongs inflicted on teachers across the country.

"We want to make sure that we're doing everything in the agency to protect our borrowers, our students," Cardona pledged. "We serve our students. We have to make that clear, not only in our talk, but in our actions. You've done so much to help our community. You were made a promise, and it's now our turn to deliver on that promise."

Pennsylvania has the second-highest average student debt in the country, according to The Institute for College Access and Success.

Under the program, the remainder of your student debt is forgiven once 120 monthly payments have been made while working full-time for a nonprofit or government employer.

Jessica Giordano, course director of the genetic counseling program at Columbia University, graduated in 2008, and when she checked in on her student-loan forgiveness in 2017, she was told she enrolled in the wrong loan plan and was not eligible.

Giordano said going forward, she hopes the forgiveness program is simplified.

"If you're making your payments and been responsible and doing your work, I think it should just be streamlined and easy," Giordano contended. "Because this complexity just makes it seem like the government doesn't actually want to forgive the loans."

Challenges still remain for the forgiveness program as the Pennsylvania Higher Education Association, which operates one of the Department of Education's main student loan servicers, FedLoan, will not renew its contract with the federal government when it expires in December. According to the most recent data available from 2019, 65% of Pennsylvania college graduates have student debt.

Disclosure: American Federation of Teachers contributes to our fund for reporting on Education, Health Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

get more stories like this via email
Vicki Harder-Thorne is honoring 30 years of sweat equity her parents put into restoring 80 acres of land in Ottawa County. (Harder-Thorne)


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Succession is an inevitable process for Ohio farmers, and it can also be an opportunity to re-imagine the land. Vicki Harder-…


HELENA, Mont. -- To honor the Biden administration's steps toward greater ties with tribal nations, conservation groups are calling on it to list the …

Social Issues

PIERRE, S.D. -- Supporters of establishing recreational marijuana in South Dakota say they're pouring all their energy into a new ballot initiative…

Farming is Virginia's largest private industry, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. (Adobe Stock)


RICHMOND, Va. -- In central Virginia, permanent access to land is one of the biggest barriers to farming. A new land-trust model aims to secure both …

Social Issues

BOSTON -- This holiday season, consumer advocates are urging Commonwealth residents to consider giving gifts that don't require purchasing anything…

The mission of the 'Buy Nothing Project' is to promote the giving of goods and services within hyperlocal circles. (bfleeson/Pixabay)

Social Issues

AUSTIN, Texas -- Supply chain delays have some holiday shoppers stressed that gifts won't be on store shelves on this "Black Friday," or won't arrive …

Social Issues

DETROIT -- As cold weather moves in, state agencies are working to make sure Michiganders know how to apply for the Michigan Energy Assistance …

Social Issues

NEW YORK -- A team of New York-based filmmakers is producing a documentary about reclaiming Indigenous heritage, told through the experiences of an 18…


Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021