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    • NYC art teacher puts a face on the loan forgiveness debacle

      In painstaking detail before a congressional committee, New York City art teacher Kelly Finlaw explained how the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program has failed her – like so many others — and desperately needs to be fixed.

      “I am here today so that you can see the face of a person who has been impacted by the gross mismanagement of PSLF,” Finlaw told members of the House Education and Labor Committee. “I was misled and lied to.”

      Finlaw, who is one of eight American Federation of Teachers members suing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education, was the only teacher on the hearing panel.

      In great detail, she explained how she was repeatedly told by loan servicers that she was on track for the PSLF program, which is supposed to cancel the balance for eligible public servants once they’ve made 10 years of monthly payments.

      "After 10 years of making student loan payments, October 2017 was my month — my light at the end of the tunnel," Finlaw said. "I remember standing in my living room when the light at the tunnel went dark." She said the reason she was denied, which no loan servicer had ever raised, was that one of the loans was not a direct loan.

      “I think what we see here is a failure of good faith on the part of the Education Department to actually make sure that this program is implemented the way it should be.”

      Today’s hearing examined how a student loan forgiveness program ended up rejecting 99% of those who applied. pic.twitter.com/Fpfs1Ivl6N

      — Committee on Education & Labor (@EdLaborCmte) September 19, 2019

      “I share my story because there was a promise that was made to me and to millions of other public servants. That promise is being broken every day,” Finlaw said. As of March 2019, the Education Department had forgiven the debt of only 518 public servants, fewer than 1 percent of its applicants.

      Congressional Democrats on the panel told Finlaw they want to fix the program.

      Committee chairman Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Virginia, noted there’s obviously something wrong with the program implementation when 99 percent of the applicants are rejected.

      student debt lawsuit team
      United Federation of Teachers member Kelly Finlaw and Missouri educator Gloria Nolan are plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education over their mishandling of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. From left, attorney Yelena Konanova, Nolan, attorney Margaret Siller, Finlaw and AFT President Randi Weingarten. Photo provided.

      “These aren’t puzzles or contests, this is a program that you are supposed to benefit from,” Scott said.

      Democrats expressed great frustration that James Steeley, CEO of the company that exclusively handles the PSLF refused to testify. Finlaw called it outrageous that Steeley could just say no.

      “If my principal called me in and I said, 'Nah, I’m not going to go,' it would mean my job,” Finlaw said. “And yet there’s an empty seat next to me. I don’t get to look anybody in the eye.”

      Denied PSLF? Try again.

      As of March 2019, the U.S. Department of Education has forgiven the loans of fewer than 1 percent of borrowers who applied for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

      After so many borrowers were denied access to the program, Congress last year approved a temporary expansion of the program to allow more borrowers to qualify.

      The $350 million is available on a first-come, first-served basis. To qualify, your application must have already been denied because some or all of the payments were made under the wrong type of repayment plan. Borrowers who believe they may qualify for Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) should email a request to TEPSLF@ myfedloan.org and ask that the Education Department reconsider your eligibility.

      For more information, go to studentaid.ed.gov or contact FedLoan Servicing at 1-855- 265-4038 from 8 a.m.–9 p.m., Monday through Friday.

      Help is available

      NYSUT is committed to helping members who are struggling with student debt.

      After training from American Federation of Teachers, NYSUT staffers are conducting student debt clinics in regional offices around the state.

      Working in partnership with Cambridge Credit Counseling, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit agency, NYSUT Member Benefits is also sponsoring regional events and sending Cambridge Credit representatives to conferences and some local union meetings.

      NYSUT members are eligible for a free, no-obligation, debt and student loan consultation with one of Cambridge’s certified counselors.

      There is no charge to call and speak with a counselor, who can review members’ loans and help determine the best repayment options.

      The company has a dedicated telephone line (888-254-9827) for NYSUT members to get counseling for student loans, or for any other debt management issues. To date, more than 1,000 NYSUT members have contacted Cambridge for help.

      Cambridge also offers a web portal available at a reduced rate of $14.95 that can help explain the various options when paying down student debt, including student loan forgiveness programs, income-based repayment options and more. A report will be provided based on loan information and responses to questions.

      For more information, go to memberbenefits.nysut.org/cambridge.

      The AFT recently rolled out a new online debt relief tool called “Summer.” It’s an interface similar to Turbo-Tax that can help ease student debt payments.

      Go to meetsummer.org/aft for more. In addition, AFT’s Forgivemystudentdebt.org website provides public service workers information about the federal PSLF program.

    • Retirees: NYSTRS Resource - Aug. 2019 Newsletter

      Of special interest to NYSUT retirees:

      1. NYSTRS Info Reps Available to Retiree Groups - p.2
      2. New COLA Begins with September payment - p.2
      3. Research finds Teachers Have Longer Life Expectancies - p.3
      4. How to Increase Your Odds of a Long Retirement - p.3
      5. Help Us Help You Protect Your Identity and Personal Information - p.6
      6. MYNYSTRS is Now Mobile Friendly - p. 1

      Download: NYSTRS Resource Newsletter - Aug. 2019  (pdf)

    LTA Blog

    Stand Up For What All Kids Need

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    Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget for 2015-2016 lays out a punishing anti-public education agenda that attacks teachers and hurts students.

    Rather than provide what all kids need, the governor is pushing a Billionaires' Agenda that would decimate the state's public schools. His "my-way-or-the-highway" budget would:

    • hold school aid increases hostage;
    • woefully underfund the state's K-12 and higher education systems;
    • more than double the weight of standardized tests;
    • make permanent an undemocratic tax cap that has wreaked financial havoc on school communities;
    • eliminate funding for teacher training;
    • launch a back-door voucher plan that would siphon funding away from schools most in need;
    • underfund public higher education by tying funding to campus "performance" rather than enrollment;
    • smooth the way for the privatization of SUNY's five hospitals;
    • destroy prep programs for future teachers;
    • and fail to fully address the student debt crisis.

    Simply put, Gov. Cuomo's proposed budget - which serves the interests of his billionaire backers - is an attack on public education that fails to address what all students need.

    Things you can do right now to fight back.

    Every NYSUT member is needed to defend public education and the teaching profession from Gov. Cuomo's Billionaires' Agenda.

    Tell the governor to stop scapegoating... stop teacher bashing and focus on what #AllKidsNeed.

    Here's your to-do list.

    Take action on this week's campaigns.

    The latest actions will always be right here in the No. 1 spot.

    Call your state senator. Now.

    • Stop what you're doing and call your state senator with this message: stand up to the Governor's "Bigfoot" tactics and defend our outstanding New York public schools!
    • You can look up the number at the NYSUT Member Action Center.

    Sign up for MAC text alerts!

    Take 10 seconds and sign up for MAC text alerts on your phone!

    Here's how: Text the word "NYSUT" to the contact number 38470.

    Sign the petitions.

    Call out the governor.

    • Invite the governor to visit your class to learn what #AllKidsNeed. Tweet out an invite directly at him and be sure to include his Twitter handle @NYGovCuomo and the hashtag #InviteCuomo if you want your tweet to be seen and heard.
    • Not on Twitter? See step 8.

    Get connected to the MAC.

    • BY TEXT. Get real-time text messages about urgent news and actions by texting the word NYSUT to the number 38470.
    • BY EMAIL. Subscribe to the NYSUT Member Action Center email alerts for updates on this campaign. If you're registered via email as a NYSUT MAC e-activist you'll also be the first to know about upcoming rallies, protests and more.
    • BY APP. Download the NYSUT MAC App for your iPhone or for your Android phone. Be sure notifications are enabled to receive alerts on new action items.

    Get connected on Facebook.

    Get connected on Twitter.

    • Join Twitter and follow @NYSUT to be part of the social media army.
    • Once a day (or as often as possible) tweet your thoughts on what #AllKidsNeed - more science labs, music and art classes, school libraries, smaller class sizes and more. We're reminding the governor to focus on what matters! Follow the conversation in real-time for some great examples from parents and educators.

    Share the poster.

    Wear the button.

    Take part in community forums.

    • Keep an eye on nysut.org/allkidsneed for information on upcoming NYSUT-sponsored Community Forums to Save Public Education in every region of the state.

    Talk it up.

    • Get the conversation going - online and offline. Read "Where We Stand" and use it to craft social media messages, send letters to the editor, and brief friends and colleagues.
    • Circulate and share print materials and videos.

    Support "Take Action Tuesday."

    • Mark your calendar to support NYSUT's "Take Action Tuesday" every week. Be on the lookout for updates.

    Learn more at www.nysut.org/allkidsneed.

     

    Last Updated (Tuesday, 03 March 2015 16:10)

     

    Member Alert Program

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    There are so many member benefits, that it can be hard to keep track of them all.
    The NYSUT Member Benefits MAP (Member Alert Program) email blast service keeps you informed through a brief email message every three weeks.
    You can join MAP on the NYSUT website, at http://www.nysut.org/49.htm

    Last Updated (Friday, 15 November 2013 16:58)

     

    Nysut Action Center Mobile App

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    NYSUT action center now has an app for smartphones that makes it very easy to take action. It is available in the app store for free.



    Last Updated (Friday, 15 November 2013 16:38)

     
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