Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation Thursday aiming to help public servants get student loan relief in order to focus on their careers, not their debts.
The governor was on hand at the Borough of Manhattan City College (BMCC) with several other elected officials to officially sign the bill that will allow tens of thousands of public servants in New York to apply for significant debt forgiveness.
“$16.3 billion in student debt will be canceled in this state alone,” said Hochul during the Sept. 15 press conference. “That’s a clean slate, that means New Yorkers can rebuild their lives. Over 2.2 million New Yorkers will see some type of relief and that’s life-changing.”
Hochul spoke about how many public servants feel a calling to help others and often rarely reap benefits from their decision to dedicate their lives to service.
“Since 2007, there’s been a public service loan forgiveness program,” the governor said. “In New York this program has helped eligible workers receive an average of $61,000 in student debt relief. This is critically important, and this debt relief is exempt from taxes it always has been and always will be. So if you’re teaching the next generation of our doers and thinkers, if you’re keeping our streets safe, if you’re serving in our military, you’re helping government run smoothly, if you’re a healthcare worker who spent time in the depths of hell during this pandemic, that $61,000 is real money. This is real money you can spend on the mortgage you only dreamed about having, or the monthly payments on a car. For a lot of New Yorkers, that $61,000 is more than an annual salary. So we want to make sure you can access that.”
State Senator Kevin Thomas emphasized how important this debt relief would be, especially following the pandemic.
“As you know, student loan debt in the United States has grown exponentially in recent years and is now one of the largest forms of consumer finance in this country,” said Thomas. “At the end of 2020, about 43 million U.S owed nearly $1.6 trillion in federal student loans. Approximately $90 billion of that outstanding debt is owed by 2.4 million New Yorkers. We are in major debt, tuition is outpacing students’ ability to pay and the share of students taking out loans to finance their degrees has also risen dramatically. When the federal government is asleep at the wheel, states must step up to protect [their] student borrowers.”
Assembly Member Harvey Epstein was also at the event and applauded Hochul for prioritizing student debt relief legislation and making it more accessible.
“We understand the struggle of people who went through higher education and the cost of going through school,” said Epstein. “Over half a million public servants today are eligible for this loan forgiveness and potentially millions more once the Governor signs this bill. Just 2% of New Yorkers qualify for loan forgiveness, today we are here to change that. People have until October 31 to apply retroactively for this relief. What we are saying to educators, nurses, public defenders and community organizers who took on debt to go to college is that they have the opportunity to forgive that debt by setting clear guidelines and eliminating the confusion that have been barriers for this enrollment.”
To see if you are eligible for this relief, visit the Public Service Loan Forgiveness site at https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service and apply before the deadline on Oct. 31.