Saturday, November 27, 2021

Play

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.

Play

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.

Play

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 Could Help Thousands of Utah Grads

Play

Friday, October 8, 2021   

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- Major changes are coming to the U.S. Department of Education's Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that could have a big impact on Utah graduates.

The program created in 2007 was meant to provide student-debt relief to workers in public-service fields, like teachers and paraprofessionals, but it has been plagued by bureaucratic issues making it difficult to qualify.

Changes announced this week allow eligible borrowers to complete a waiver to count all their 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 of the past.

"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."

Under the Public Service program, qualified graduates can have the remainder of their student debt forgiven.

Utah's average student debt is about $18,000, considerably lower than the national average of $29,000, according to the Institute for College Access and Success.

The Institute reports about 300,000 Utahns -- roughly 40% of all graduates -- have student debt. About 9% of Utah college debt is in private loans, which are often costlier and carry fewer consumer protections.

Brad Asay, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Utah, said lenders often used complex rules to block graduates from participating in the federal forgiveness program.

"The lenders were making it extremely difficult," Asay contended. "They'd say, 'Oh, you didn't fill this out correctly. Now you don't qualify.' And so, anything that was supposed to be forgiven automatically now turns into a loan. That's the way that they made money."

Asay noted both Utah and the national AFT provide assistance for teachers and other educators on how to deal with the loan forgiveness program.

"We sit down with public-service employees, teachers, professors, and we show them how to navigate through the system," Asay explained. "How to do the paperwork, what forms to fill out, what qualifies them for the debt forgiveness and the different types."

In addition to the federal program, Utah has several debt assistance and forgiveness programs.

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)

Environment

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


Environment

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)

Environment

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