Student loan forgiveness available for public service workers

Public service workers can get help with student loans
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 5:23 PM EDT
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - If you’re a public service worker, you could have thousands of dollars in student loans forgiven.

This applies to people who work as teachers, first responders and government employees.

A coalition is helping raise awareness about this and assisting with the process because they say it can be complicated.

In Connecticut it’s believed more than 110,000 people are eligible.

“So, I actually have around 70k in student debt. Which is a huge number,” said Jennifer Perez-Caraballo, of Hartford.

Jennifer has been a public servant for about seven years. She said it’s been difficult paying off her student loans and making ends meet.

“Recently I recovered from experiencing a stint in homelessness. I had gone to college, I served my city, I’ve done a lot of different work. And even with all of that, it’s become really really difficult to be able to maintain my economic security,” Jennifer said.

That’s why she’s applying to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program under a waiver.

“We want to make sure that if you’re eligible, you have access to this,” said Cristher Estrada Perez, Executive Director of the Student Loan Fund.

In 2007, Congress created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program with the promise that public service workers could get their debt erased after working for 10 years.

Qualifying public service jobs include all levels of government, teachers, university employees, certain healthcare and daycare workers, firefighters, EMT’s, police officers, military service members and more.

But due to technicalities, borrowers often saw their applications rejected.

To fix the problem, the U.S. Department of Education made temporary adjustments, expanding eligibility through a limited time waiver which ends at the end of October.

“In May, got about $15,000 of debt forgiven which represented about $200 a month of payments before they were frozen by the pandemic,” said Ben Shaiken, Director of Government Relations, Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance.

The average cancelation for Connecticut public servants who’ve had their loans forgiven is more than $60,000.

But awareness about the waiver is low, so organizers are trying to get the word out.

“For those of us like myself who work in the service sector, we have committed our lives to giving back and it’s by choice but it’s great to know now that there’s something out there that takes care of us as well,” said Esther Jean-Marie, Program Officer with Local Initiatives Support Corporation.

Under the waiver, there’s no income limit and no maximum amount of debt that you can hold.

You’re also being encouraged to re-apply if you were previously rejected.

The deadline for applying under the waiver is October 31.

Organizers are holding several informational workshops.

For more information, click here.

Student loan forgiveness available for public service workers