From pre-K to Ph.D., our right to learn, grow, and thrive should be based on how big we dream and how hard we work. But the astronomical cost of higher education—even public higher education—forces many students to either forego their education or be trapped in a lifetime of debt. No matter who we are or how big our bank accounts, we should be able to learn without limits.
Join us: ask Secretary Cardona to cancel the student debt of longtime public service workers, and $50,000 in student debt for all other federal loans.
For too long, some policymakers have weakened programs designed to help all Americans achieve a higher education, and enabled profiteers, including federal student loan servicers, to profit off the backs of students and educators. Generations of barriers also have denied Black, brown, and Indigenous communities a fair shot at resources that would make the college dream a reality.
Affordable and Accessible Higher Education for All
Higher education should be getting more accessible over time, not less. We can reverse the skyrocketing cost of college so that quality, affordable education is accessible to future generations of students. We can also improve and expand student loan forgiveness programs so that everyone can afford a career in public service.
To learn more about the connection between student debt and social, economic, and racial justice, watch our briefing with special guest U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley:
The NEA Student Debt Navigator
NEA has partnered with Savi, a student loan start up, to offer an online student debt navigator tool, free for one year for NEA members. Sign up to receive personalized advice from student debt experts and gain access to Savi’s e-filing function, which helps eliminate the common mistakes that bar many applicants from receiving forgiveness.
Watch the video below to hear from members who have had student debt cancelled through the NEA Student Debt Navigator. Then log in and try it today at neamb.com/GetNavNEA.
Connect To Further Support
NEA is 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, faculty, 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.
3 Things to Know About Income-Drive 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.
Monthly payments are determined by discretionary income, rather than loan balance. With an income-driven repayment plan, you will pay around 10-15 percent of your discretionary income. You can estimate your monthly payments using the Federal Student Aid Loan Simulator.
Being enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan is the only way to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which could forgive your student loans in as little as 10 years. Even if you don't qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, when you participate in an income-driven repayment plan your balance is forgiven after 20 or 25 years.
The less you make, the less you pay. Monthly payments can go down when you are facing financial hardship. Single applicants who make less than $19K or a family of four making less than $39K qualify for $0 monthly payments.
Apply for an income-driven repayment plan here.
5 Steps to 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.
Have the right kind of loan: Your loans must be Direct Loans to qualify for forgiveness.
Have the right servicer: Your loans must be serviced by FedLoan when you request forgiveness.
Be in the right repayment plan: You must be in an income-driven repayment plan.
Work full-time for the right kind of employer (all public schools, colleges, and universities count): You must prove your employment by filing a public-service employment certification form. If your loans are not already serviced by FedLoan, they will be transferred to FedLoan when you submit the employment certification form.
Make 120 on-time payments—they don’t have to be consecutive.
3 Steps to 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.
Have either Direct or Stafford loans.
Be a “highly qualified,” or fully state-certified, teacher.
Teach at a school or educational service agency that serves low-income students for five years after your loans were taken out.
By achieving the broad cancellation of federal student loans and improving forgiveness programs, we can make sure everybody who wants to learn and grow can do so—without exceptions.
Our right to learn, grow and thrive, should be based on how big we dream and how hard we work, not where we come from, or how much money we make. I call on our leaders to use every tool they can to cancel student debt, including by executive action.