A new law extends the eligibility of the PSLF to deputies
Legend:On hand for Thursday’s bill signing with Governor Kathy Hochul were United University Professions President Fred Kowal and Professional Staff Congress President James Davis. Photo provided.
Thousands of adjunct teachers and other part-time educators will now be eligible for public service loan relief under a union-backed law signed by Governor Kathy Hochul on Thursday.
In a big win for union activists, the law expands eligibility under state labor law by giving educators credit for work outside the classroom. The law would apply a multiplier to faculty in-class hours so they can meet the federal definition of 30 full-time hours and qualify for the PLSF.
“Many auxiliaries work the equivalent of full time but have been overlooked because only their class hours have been counted,” said Professional Staff Congress president James Davis, who represents about 30,000 faculty and staff. CUNY staff. “This legislation changes that. It recognizes the full-time work done by many so-called part-time teachers.
“This will be an incredible benefit to our contingent and adjunct members who have been cut out of the program,” said United University Professions President Fred Kowal, representing approximately 40,000 SUNY faculty and staff. “This law means the process is simplified, streamlined and extended to those who need this help the most,”
PSLF wipes federal student loan debt from educators and other public service workers after 10 years of service and 120 qualifying monthly payments. After unions pushed for changes, the Biden administration last fall announced a temporary waiver that expands the type of payments that count. This waiver expires on October 31, so it is crucial to apply now.
During a bill signing event at Manhattan Borough Community College, Governor Hochul highlighted the story of Genevieve LaForge, adjunct professor of philosophy at John Jay College, who will now qualify for the PSLF.
LaForge, who came from a low-income family, took out a $74,0000 loan so he could study politics and philosophy at Penn State. Since graduating, she has never missed a payment in 14 years and has paid back $69,000, but because of interest she still owes $54,000.
“If it wasn’t for that bill, she would be paying off the loan in 16 years when she turns 58,” Hochul said. “That’s the kind of people we’re helping today.”
Hochul said the relief will be life changing for LaForge. “She said, ‘This makes me feel whole again. It will lift what feels like punishment for the crime of being a poor kid who just wants to go to college.
In addition to teaching John Jay, Hochul noted that LaForge devoted herself to teaching those incarcerated at Otisville State Correctional Institution.
“Look what she did” as a public servant, Hochul said. “How many other Genevièves are there? People shouldn’t have to pay their entire adult lives for the privilege of a college education.
Under the new law, educators will meet the 30-hour threshold as they will be credited 3.35 hours for every hour of classroom instruction. This takes into account the many hours that auxiliaries devote to preparing lessons, grading student work and meeting with students.
NYSUT President Andy Pallotta praised the governor’s action on the new law and said the union is working to educate all public sector employees about the PSLF program.
The statewide union offers free student debt workshops and services in partnership with Cambridge Credit Counseling. Since the pandemic, NYSUT has moved workshops online, helping thousands of people with informational webinars and personalized follow-up. For information, go to studentloans.nysut.org.
Kowal said the UUP has helped its members pay off more than $2.1 million in student loan debt through online clinics held each payday. To register, go to upinfo.org.
NYSUT’s two national affiliates are also helping. AFT offers student debt clinics, as well as Summer, an online student loan management platform, aft.org/benefits/summer.
The National Education Association provides links to webinars, FAQs, and the Student Debt Navigator, nea.org/studentdebt.
Hochul also unveiled a new website, www.dfs.ny.gov to help navigate the PSLF process.