Americans owe about $1.5 trillion in student debt—a lot more than they owe in credit card debt or home mortgages. It’s a particular problem for educators, who are underpaid compared to similarly educated professionals, and it’s especially severe for educators of color, who typically have more debt when they graduate from college than their white peers.
That's why NEA and NSEA are fighting to cancel student debt, and to expand and protect programs that can help. At the same time, we're also making sure those programs actually work, including:
- Income-driven repayment plans. Income-driven repayment plans can help keep payments affordable (and be as little as $0 per month). Educators must be in one of these repayment plans to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness. This federal program forgives the federal student loan debt of public employees including teachers and education support professionals after they make 120 qualifying payments.
- Teacher loan forgiveness. For teachers only, this program forgives up to $5,000 after five years of teaching, or up to $17,500 if you teach math or science at the secondary level, or special education at any level.
- Identifying the right repayment plan and forgiveness program—and then steering through the process—can be complicated. NEA is here to help with navigation tools and resources.
Educators across the country are coming together to support President-elect Biden in his efforts to make higher education affordable and accessible for everyone. With these goals in mind, we ask that Congress and the new administration commit to:
- Enacting widespread student loan debt cancellation
- Extending student loan payment suspension until at least September 2021, and expanding it to include all federal student loans
- Simplifying and improving the Teacher Loan Forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs so that educators get the forgiveness they deserve
- Making it easier to discharge student loans in bankruptcy
- Restoring and enhancing protections for students from predatory for-profit colleges
As education professionals, we believe these interventions are in the best interest of all Americans—to invigorate the economy, narrow the racial wealth gap, and support a diverse and thriving workforce.