Important PSA for teachers– READ THIS

I am going to make a big deal about making sure people know about this, because I feel like I went through some seriously life-changing shit in the last couple of hours, and at least at the moment I don’t feel like the Biden administration is doing nearly good enough of a job making people aware of this program.

I am, as many of you know, currently paying off a hefty amount of student loans. I was about to launch into details, but you don’t need them; suffice it to say that I left school for good in 2005 and since then I have sent $545 a month to some organization or another to pay off said loans. There have been various and sundry government programs that allowed teachers in certain districts or certain schools to pay off certain loans throughout that time, and I’ve used some of them (I was able to eliminate my Perkins loans entirely several years ago) but for certain others I didn’t qualify because I had consolidated my loans with a third-party student loan company and they were no longer directly serviced by the government.

I have made 146 payments at that amount while teaching for my current district. 146 is more than 120. That information, as it turns out, is critical, because:

If you have worked in public service since 2007, and I don’t know precisely how they’re defining it but working for public schools counts, and I think “public schools” means all of them, not just low-income, and work for them means any job, not just, say, math or science or ELA teachers or whatever, there has recently been a really important rule change that means that if you’ve made your 120 payments to anybody it will count toward your loan forgiveness.

In other words, because I was teaching while making 120 payments on my student loans, even though I wasn’t paying the Direct Loans program back, I am now eligible not only to have every remaining dime of principal and interest forgiven– tens of thousands of dollars, and sixteen more years of payments– but they will reimburse me for everything I’ve paid since that last qualifying payment.

The one tiny hitch is that you have to re-consolidate your loans back to the federal Direct Loans program first. Which I just did. The paperwork to have my district verify my employment is right here(*) and once I have that filled out and sent in and everything goes through …

Boom. No more student loans. Gone.

$545 a month back in my pocket, forever.

And then? A large check.

If you are a teacher go check this out right now.




(*) Y’know, Federal government, you could just check with, like, the fucking IRS on that; they know where I’ve worked. I promise.(**)

(**) Yeah, there’s probably some sort of privacy law that prevents this. I waive it. Go.

Getting there

Well, the tree’s up— no ornaments, because there’s a kitten in the house and the tree alone is risky enough— and there’s some Christmas treats in the fridge cooling off. My wife spent the day preparing the master bath and the closet we’re about to lose for the big renovation, since demo starts Monday, and I got a spot of shopping done.

Not bad for the first day of break, eh?

I get presents

So Hosea walks into class this morning at the beginning of the day and hands me something wrapped up in a plastic grocery bag. “Merry Christmas!”, he says, “but don’t open this until I’m gone.” I agree and put the bag on my desk, where I proceed to forget about it until fifth hour, when he’s actually in my class. He asks if I have opened his present; I conceal my lapse of memory by saying that I thought he meant to wait until he’d gone home for the day, not just left advisory. This placates him, however, and we get through class.

During my prep I look at the bag. There is a note attached. The note is legitimately rather sweet and has already been added to my Notes from Students file where it will remain forever until my wife and son throw it away after I die:

I open the bag and find two things inside. The first is this bag of chips:

Okay, cool, I think. I have a thing I need to do after school that is going to keep me from getting home on time and maybe a quick snack will tide me over until then. Then my teacher Spider-Sense kicks in and I examine the bag a bit more closely:

Hm. Maybe not, then. But what’s this other thing?

It was wrapped a bit more prettily than that, as I’ve unwrapped it a couple of times since then, but you get the idea. It’s a couple inches square. Now, Hosea has brought me baked goods from home before, which is always kind of unfortunate, as he really is a nice kid when he wants to be, but I have a thing about eating random baked goods from kitchens I’ve never seen, particularly when students hand them to me and double-particularly during Covid. But, shit, I’m genuinely kind of hungry, and this looks like it could be a brownie. I could go for a brownie right now. Maybe I’ll make an exception.

I unwrap the item and immediately die laughing, because this is what is inside. I actually have to take it to another teacher who I know also received a gift from Hosea to make sure that I am looking at what I think I’m looking at:

It may be that at this resolution and sans any context or touch you still can’t tell what this is. I thought for a moment it might be a block of cheese; it is not. No, that is half a bar of soap, and I think it might be homemade soap, but I’m not a hundred percent sure, as there’s traces of a logo molded into it, which it only now occurs to me could mean that not only is it half a bar of soap but it might be half a bar of soap that has been used and then dried off before being wrapped in aluminum foil.

Again, the note was sweet. And it’s the thought that counts. But apparently the thought in this case is that I am smelly and have the iron stomach of a raccoon or perhaps some sort of opossum, and … well, this is what having Hosea in class is like.

Merry Christmas!

I have had an insanely frustrating day

And, in return, I would like to present you all with a very simple life hack. I tweeted about this earlier and I’d like more people to be aware of it.

You may have gotten a Visa or MasterCard gift card for Christmas, and you may have been frustrated upon trying to use it at an online retailer, because you either have to leave a small amount of money on the card or somehow manage to spend exactly the amount on the card, because most online places won’t let you split a purchase over more than one card.

If you’ve got a $50 Visa gift card, and you want to spend $60 at, say, Amazon, then what you do is you first use the Visa on Amazon to buy a $50 Amazon gift card. This will be emailed to you as a code and you can then immediately use that code plus your debit card or whatever, and boom– $50 off whatever you wanted to buy, with no money lost to transaction fees and no money left on the card.

You’re welcome.

As one does

The boy is on his way to bed, or at least what we’ve come to call bed one, and so I suppose I can begin safely downloading his Christmas presents. Yes, downloading, and I may very well not reveal the existence of Immortals: Fenyx Rising on the PS5 until he notices it on his own. He and his mom have been reading through the Percy Jackson series together for the last several … months? … sure, let’s go with months, and it’s triggered a moderate obsession with Greek mythology, so he was all over the game. Hopefully it’s actually fun.

Other than that, well, there’s a reason it took until 9:00 to get even a short post up. This has been the least Christmas Eve-ish Christmas ever, and I fully expect tomorrow to be the least Christmasy Christmas ever, and honestly right now I’m fine with both of those things.