UFT helps its members find relief for their student loans



Jonathan fickies

Steven Kramer (standing) from the legal provider of the Retired Teachers Chapter Feldman, Kramer & Monaco explains the program to members during a briefing on November 14.

UFT has partnered with the National Student Debt Forgiveness Center and the longtime legal provider of the Retired Teachers Chapter Feldman, Kramer & Monaco to help Ministry of Education members burdened with student debt find, navigate and ask for federal debt relief or good debt. forgiveness program. The average student debt balance for a teacher is $ 40,000, according to a Federal Reserve survey.

Rachael Beseda, a teacher at PS 469 in the Bronx, has over $ 90,000 in student loan debt, including interest.

“I could pay the interest for years and years and the debt just keeps growing,” she said. “It’s a big amount of money that I pay each month that I could use for other things, like saving for a mortgage. But instead, she said, “I’m pouring money into a black hole.”

Beseda attended the union’s first debt briefing on November 14. “There might be light at the end of the tunnel with this program,” she said afterwards.

Many debt service companies steer borrowers toward higher interest payment plans that are more lucrative for the server – a practice that prompted the American Federation of Teachers, UFT’s parent union, to sue Navient. , the largest of these companies.

“There are a lot of bad players in this space who have taken advantage of people,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew said during the briefing. “Our promise to our members is that we will try to help – that’s what a union does.

To participate, educators must attend an information presentation in their borough to learn more about the program. Participants will then receive an email from the union inviting them to make an appointment for an initial consultation with a UFT advocate. The lawyer will explain how to access loan data on the Federal Student Aid website and then put each member in touch with a loan specialist. The credit specialist will take over to provide you with individualized assistance. The specialist will review the type of loans the member has and their current repayment schedule. Then, the specialist will guide the member through the potential options, with the goal of helping them maximize the possibility of reducing debt payments and forgetting the principal of the debt.

The National Student Debt Forgiveness Center counseling service can also provide assistance with debt consolidation and bankruptcy, forbearance applications, and negotiations with lenders or collection agencies.

The initial consultation is free and more comprehensive assistance is available at a reduced cost.

Some New York City educators may be eligible for a program called Public Sector Loan Forgiveness, which allows borrowers who work for 10 years in qualifying public service employment and make 120 loan payments on time to cancel their student loans. remaining federal.

Taina DeLesline-Taitt, a school secretary at PS 485 in Manhattan, praised the UFT for holding its members accountable against predatory debt services.

“They are banking on the fact that we are not informed of the process and our options,” she said. “The union represents its members well by educating them. “

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