Some workers may be eligible for even more student loan forgiveness: What to know

Application deadline is Oct. 31 for teachers, nurses and other workers.

People with student debt who work for the government or for nonprofit organizations may be eligible for loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, established in 2007.

A 2019 lawsuit from the American Federation of Teachers alleged issues with that program and argued that many people who should have qualified to have their loans forgiven did not. The lawsuit, settled last year, resulted in temporary rules that allow some borrowers to have their loans wiped clean if they apply by Oct. 31.

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Ohio Federation of Teachers president Melissa Cropper cited recent research from the Economic Policy Institute showing teachers make 23.5% less than comparable college graduates, while the cost of higher education continues to rise.

“The PSLF program is absolutely essential for recruiting and retaining highly skilled teachers,” Cropper said. “We definitely don’t go into this profession to get rich, but we also shouldn’t go broke because we chose to serve our community and educate the next generation.”

The Ohio Education Association, another major teacher union in Ohio, is pushing for the Biden administration to extend the process, arguing that many teachers are still unaware they can apply for loan forgiveness.

“Many educators face the difficult reality that they may never make enough money to get out from under the mountain of student debt they incurred entering the education profession,” said OEA president Scott DiMauro.

Ohio Nurses Association spokesman Molly Homan said Ohio nurses should look into the program and see if they qualify and noted ONA has workshops available for members.

“We highly encourage nurses to check into the PLFP, even if they were previously unsuccessful,” Homan said.

Who qualifies for this program?

To qualify for this program, you need to have at least one federal Direct Loan and one approved PSLF form according to the Department of Education. You can find out what kinds of loans you have at Federal Student Aid, the U.S. Department of Education’s federal loans explainer website.

The American Federation of Teachers says those who have not made their 120 payments that qualify for PSLF loan forgiveness can still apply and may get credit for more payments.

Further resources

Federal Student Aid has a list of all the employers whose employees are eligible, along with the application and the list of qualifications.

The AFT are doing free, public, online seminars through Oct. 31 that offer help to both members and non-members.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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