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March 20, 2019

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UUP student debt clinics help members


uupdate 3-6-19

Imagine spending years of following the rules, thinking you were doing the right thing, and then finding out that nothing you had done counted toward the reward you were sure awaited all that diligence and hard work. For many of the approximately 45 million Americans who have student debt, and thought they were well on their way to either repayment or federal loan forgiveness, that scenario is all too common.

And that’s why UUP plans to continue its well-received student debt clinics for members. The 90-minute seminars cover information most student loan servicers won’t tell you or don’t know.

“I used to think I knew what I was doing, until I went to a workshop like this and learned how much my student-debt servicer had lied to me,” said UUP statewide Secretary-Treasurer Jeri O’Bryan-Losee, above, who led a March 20 clinic for more than a dozen UUPers from UAlbany and System Administration.

Knowledge is power

Misinformation about repayment plans, confusion about options and uncertainty about where to get the answers abound. It’s not uncommon for people to think they consolidated their loans, only to find out that they never did, or to successfully consolidate them, and then learn that they just wiped out years of effort toward forgiveness when they thought they were streamlining the number of loans to manage.

“I had been really clueless,” said one member from UAlbany, who asked that her name not be used but did say her student debt is more than $100,000. “I had no idea that we were eligible for public service loan forgiveness.”

Help is out there

People who work in several categories of public service, including as employees of nonprofits such as SUNY, may be eligible for federal loan forgiveness. The key, O’Bryan-Losee told the group, is to know what questions to ask, and where to ask them. Attendees received a packet with valuable information and several resources for those questions, including the websites www.studentloans.gov and www.forgivemystudentdebt.org.

This session was one of the last given around the state with the help of an AFT staff member expertly versed in student debt issues; at Wednesday’s clinic was Alyssa Picard, director of the AFT Higher Education Division. In the future, UUP presenters trained by AFT will run the clinics. In addition to O’Bryan-Losee, four UUP professional organizers and three members have been trained.

Watch the UUP websitefor announcements from chapter leaders on the dates and locations of upcoming clinics.


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