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For Immediate Release
May 19, 2022

UUP Members, Elected Officials And Higher Education Advocates Urge Passage Of Bill To Eliminate Barriers To Public Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

ALBANY, NY – United University Professions (UUP), the nation’s largest higher education union, today joined with state lawmakers, the Student Borrower Protection Center and the Community Service Society of New York to urge Gov. 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 Sen. Kevin Thomas, Assemblymember Harvey Epstein, and members from the Student Borrower Protection Center and the Community Service Society of New York, are urging Gov. 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 to an affordable, world-class higher education, but we know that all too often, programs built to aid students present unnecessary complications,” said Kowal. “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 Gov. 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.”

Sen. 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 Gov. 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.”

“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 Sen. Thomas, UUP, and the Student Borrower Protection Center to get this done,” said Assemblymember Epstein.

“The federal government promised to protect public service workers from burdensome student loans—and they failed,” said Mike Pierce, Executive Director of the Student Borrower Protection Center. “With this bill, New York state can right this wrong. At no cost to the state or to employers, state leaders can set an example for the rest of the country and ensure public service work aligns with PSLF eligibility.”

“The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is intended to help those working in the public sector, including educators, address their student loan debt. However, many of them cannot obtain forgiveness and benefit from the latest PSLF relief because of how their employment hours are counted. New York state can remedy this issue by passing S8389B/A9523A. Helping New Yorkers eliminate their student debt is good for everyone, especially our state’s economy, as borrowers will have more resources to spend on things like buying a home or a car,” said Carolina Rodriguez, Director of the Education Debt Consumer Assistance Program, a program of the Community Service Society of New York.

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.

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 42,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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