The deadline is October 31, but that still gives educators time to apply for the temporarily expanded federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and Bridgeport teacher Chris Cormier wants to make sure all Connecticut teachers know about this opportunity, which could be life changing.
“Honestly, we’ve never had this kind of opportunity before, and we’re never going to get it again,” he says.
“I know the process is intimidating, we’re all so overwhelmed just looking at it—but this program can save so many teachers so much,” he continues. “You might be eligible and not know it.”
Cormier and his husband Stamford teacher Jonathan Jay (pictured above with their children) both have numerous student loans that add up to the size of a mortgage, as Cormier describes it, and they had always thought retirement would be out of reach.
Cormier came to teaching as a second career and began applying for positions during the 2008 recession when the job market was extremely tight. Around that same time he and his husband began the process of adopting their four sons.
“When I couldn’t get a job during the recession I kept going bak to school. We’ve both got our 6th years,” he explains. “We’ve always felt that we were never going to be able to pay off all our student debt—we were going to have loans until we die.”
For the first time, thanks to the expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, Cormier and Jay have hope.
Cormier continues, “We’re older, we have four kids in elementary and middle school, and we just figured we’d be buried for the rest of our lives. I love my job, but I don’t want to teach until I’m 80. This is our one opportunity we’re going to have to set ourselves up for a normal life.”
After applying for loan forgiveness, Cormier convinced several colleagues to do so as well.
He began by applying for President Biden’s new student debt relief plan, which includes up to $10,000 in loan forgiveness—$20,000 for those with Pell Grants—and expires on December 31, 2023.
“I did the waiver of the $10,000 for each of us in about seven minutes and basically made us $20,000 as a family,” Cormier says.
Then he applied for the more complicated Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that expires this October 31. He offers the following directions for other educators.
To learn more, watch these CEA Loan Forgiveness Webinars.
“I was overwhelmed by the process, so I know other teachers must be, too, but it’s absolutely worth it,” Cormier says. “This is our one and only chance to fix these mistakes. We finally have a light at the end of the tunnel.”