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.