NEA members met with Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and testified before a House subcommittee about COVID-19’s impact on students with disabilities last week.
On May 7, Sean Manes, a New Jersey elementary music teacher, and James Stewart, a Maryland high school science teacher, participated in a roundtable with Cardona to share their experiences with the PSLF program.
Manes became eligible for PSLF in 2019, but didn’t receive it until 2020. His loan servicer was missing nearly four years of qualifying payments. NEA’s Office of General Counsel assisted Manes in successfully arguing that he had actually exceeded the requirement for loan payments. He received loan forgiveness and was refunded the extra payments.
Stewart already had a master’s degree in science and a teaching certificate, but wanted to continue his education to be the best teacher possible, and to set an example for his students. He borrowed $90,000 to finance a doctoral degree and today, his debt is in the six figures. Although he doesn’t regret his career or educational choices, he wishes he’d had a better understanding of the loans before he took them on.
Danielle M. Kovach, a third-grade self-contained learning and language disabilities from New Jersey, testified (virtually) on May 6 before the House Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee. Kovach described the challenges of the abrupt switch to virtual learning and her concerns about the long-term implications of the pandemic on her student. She thanked Congress for the COVID-relief packages that have helped schools and students weather the pandemic and asked that Congress fulfill its commitment to fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) at 40 percent of the excess cost.
Urge Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to take immediate action to cancel the student loan debt of public service workers with at least 10 years of service, and cancel $50,000 in student debt for all other federal loans.