Loan Forgiveness for Social Workers
NASW is promoting loan forgiveness for social workers as part of its on-going work to improve working conditions, salaries, and other benefits for members of the profession and to ensure that consumers have access to qualified professionals. NASW will continue its support for proposals to provide loan forgiveness for social workers in child welfare and schools, while also working to secure loan forgiveness and educational supports for social workers in other practice areas. It is important to note that NASW does not determine loan forgiveness eligibility, nor does NASW disperse loan forgiveness funds. However, NASW does offer scholarships.
Sources of Loan Forgiveness
The College Cost Reduction Act of 2007 established a new public service loan forgiveness program that will discharge any remaining educational debt after 10 years of full-time employment in public service.
Call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243 to see if you are eligible.
This program offers fully trained and licensed clinical social workers $50,000 to repay student loans in exchange for two years serving in a community-based site in a high-need Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) that has applied to, and been approved by, the NHSC as a service site. For more information about the loan repayment program, eligibility requirements, employment opportunities in HPSAs, and NHSC contact information, click here.
While this debt cancellation program was authorized, Congress has not appropriated funds to pay for the loan forgiveness at this time. This means you cannot qualify for the program until funds are appropriated for it. NASW continues to work on getting money appropriated for this important program.
Additional sources of loan forgiveness are available through the federal government and some through state governments.
If you are having difficulty paying your loans
Contact your lender immediately. You may qualify for deferment, forbearance or another form of payment relief. It is important to take action before you accrue late fees as this may impact your eligibility for payment relief or loan forgiveness programs.
If you are having problems with your loans, you can contact the Department of Educationâ€™s Ombudsman Office at 1-877-557-2575.You may also want to read About the Ombudsman. They have provided a printable Self-Resolution Checklist so that you can make sure you've taken all the necessary steps before calling them. After you have gone as far as you can go on your own, you may fill out the online Ombudsman Assistance Request Form.
The Administration Takes Action to Reduce Student Loan Debt
The Administration recently announced new measures aimed at easing the burden of debt on students struggling to repay their federal college loans. The changes allow qualified social work students and other students with some types of federal loans to consolidate them into one loan, and accelerate the date that the government originally set to offer a new repayment plan contingent on income.
Beginning in January 2012, graduates with two or more federal loans will be able to consolidate those into one loan, thereby reducing the amount of interest by half a percent in some cases. Currently, borrowers can cap their monthly loan repayments at 15 percent of their income. That cap is set to fall to 10 percent in 2014, but the new proposal would move that timeline to 2012, through the Income Based Repayment Program (IBR).
Although the changes would not help borrowers with private loans or those who have already defaulted on federal loans, we applaud the Administration's actions to provide additional repayment relief for up to 1.6 million current students, including loan forgiveness after 20, rather than 25 years, of payments.
To view the Administrationâ€™s announcement, please visit the White House website.
Loan Forgiveness Stories from Social Workers
Social workers often have school loan debt that exceeds their annual salary. NASW collects stories of loan debt to assist in our efforts to advocate for loan forgiveness for social workers.
New Federal Student Loan Website
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently unveiled a new website that allows students to compare college tuition, job placement, and student loan default rates between multiple schools. This follows the Administrationâ€™s priority to bring transparency to higher education financing by enabling students and families to more accurately assess college costs, evaluate loan options, and determine how much debt to take on. Social workers, who typically experience more student debt and lower salaries compared to other professions, will find useful resources at The Financial Aid Comparison Shopper, consumerfinance.gov/payingforcollege.
Newâ€”The U. S. Department of Education recently released an Employment Certification Package to help borrowers track their progress toward qualifying for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
You can download the materials below from the FederalStudentAid website which include: