CEA member Lindsay Aronheim joined U.S.Congressman Joe Courtney to speak out against a plan being considered in Congress that would hurt Connecticut teachers and college students pursuing careers in education. At a December news conference, Aronheim, a school psychologist at Terryville High School, explained why eliminating the federal student aid program that helps cover college tuition costs for millions of Americans, including Connecticut students entering the teaching profession, would be detrimental.
Without the valuable program, which helped defray the cost of graduate school, Aronheim says she might not have been able to continue in the education career she loves.
“I went to graduate school for three years, which is necessary for my profession, and I took out loans in order to do that,” she explains. “When I finished grad school, I realized that paying back my loans was going to be a struggle on my salary. I was trying to figure out what to do and wondering if I needed to go into another profession. Public Service Loan Forgiveness allowed me to continue in this profession.”
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program supports students entering professions with critical workforce shortages including education. It allows teachers to have their debt forgiven after 10 years of payments made on qualifying federal student loans.
Aronheim enrolled in the PSLF’s income-driven loan repayment plan after attending a Degrees Not Debt workshop sponsored by the Plymouth Education Association and conducted by CEA Educational Issues Specialist Michele Ridolfi O’Neill.
The dismantling of PSLF could impact tens of thousands of students and professionals in Connecticut. According to Courtney, At UConn alone nearly 9,000 students use the subsidized Stafford loan program, and more than 9,500 students use the unsubsidized Stafford loans.
In December, a majority of Republicans on the House Education and Workforce Committee voted to prevent new student borrowers from participating in PSLF, and the full House is expected to vote on the issue this year.
Courtney, who says he is “proud to stand with students and local professionals who rely on federal loans as well as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program,” encouraged voters—especially those who benefit from these important programs—to remain vigilant, vocal and engaged in efforts to keep them intact.
To learn more about Degrees Not Debt, contact your local Association president or UniServ Representative, or visit nea.org/degreesnotdebt.