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UUP & State Lawmakers ‘Urge” Governor Hochul & Legislative Leaders To Pass Bill That Would ‘Eliminate Barriers’ To Public Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Published Thursday, May 19, 2022
by United University Professions News
UUP & State Lawmakers ‘Urge” Governor Hochul & Legislative Leaders To Pass Bill That Would ‘Eliminate Barriers’ To Public Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

(ALBANY, NEW YORK) - United University Professions (UUP), the Nation’s largest Higher Education Union, today (Thursday, May 19th) joined with State Lawmakers, the Student Borrower Protection Center and the Community Service Society of New York to urge Governor Kathy Hochul and Legislative Leaders to support legislation that would aid in the resolution of student debt held by Public Workers who aren’t full-time Employees. 

UUP President Frederick E. Kowal, alongside State Senator Kevin Thomas, State Assembly Member Harvey Epstein and members from the Student Borrower Protection Center and the Community Service Society of New York, urged Governor Hochul and lawmakers to support the passage of S8389B/A9523A.

The Bill amends State Labor Law, giving full-time employment status to Public Employees who work at least 30 hours per week, expanding eligibility for the Federal Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program, and ensuring that debt forgiveness, cancellation or discharge will not be subject to taxation or required to be reported on individual income tax returns. 

“Every New Yorker deserves access an affordable, world-class higher education, but we know that all too often, programs built to aid students present unnecessary complications,” UUP President Kowal said.  “This Bill addresses several well-documented barriers to entry to PSLF, ranging from inconsistent program term definitions to confusion about program eligibility, which impede New Yorkers’ ability to participate in this vital program.  We strongly urge Governor Hochul and our Legislative Leadership to prioritize the passage of this legislation as part of their commitment to supporting Higher Education access in New York State.”  

Public Service Loan Forgiveness is a Federal Program that rewards and incentivizes public service work by cancelling a portion of borrowers' Federal Student Loans.

The program requires borrowers to be full-time Employees of an eligible public service employer and make 120 qualifying payments towards their student loan, after which the remainder of their Federal Student Loan debt is forgiven

Senator Thomas said: “New York’s Public Servants had our backs throughout the pandemic - it’s time we return the favor.  This legislation creates a clear path to student loan forgiveness for New Yorkers who have made a significant impact in their communities and for those who serve their country, including Teachers, Veterans and First Responders.  I urge Governor Hochul and my colleagues in the State Legislature to pass this important legislation and ensure that New York’s Public Servants receive the loan forgiveness they have rightly earned.” 

Assembly Member Epstein said: “Many Public Servants are entitled to have their loans forgiven, but inefficiencies in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program have caused many to miss critical opportunities to free them of the economic burden of student loan debt.  While the program is Federal, there is a lot we can do in our state to make sure New Yorkers can get their debt forgiven.  From applying a multiplier to Teachers’ in-class hours so that hours worked outside of class are more accurately reflected, to ensuring that agencies can transmit paperwork on behalf of Workers to the Federal Government, our legislation will help more New Yorkers get their loans forgiven faster.  I’m proud to work with Senator Thomas, UUP and the Student Borrower Protection Center to get this done.” 

UUP represents more than 42,000 Academic and Professional Faculty and Retirees, many of whom work at 29 State-operated campuses, including State University of New York (SUNY) Public Teaching Hospitals and Health Science Centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse.

 

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