Despite the growing partisanship in Washington, DC, Congress and the President have worked together to make changes in various federal grant and loan programs to increase higher education opportunities for more individuals. Signed into law (PL 110-84) on 27 September, HR 2669 (The Higher Education Access Act of 2007) includes a provision establishing a direct loan forgiveness program under which “borrowers who, after October 1, 2007, have made 120 payments under income-based or standard repayment plans while employed in certain public service jobs may have 1/10th of their outstanding loan forgiven for each year during which they earned $65,000 or less.”

As defined in the law, eligible “public service” employment is:

“(i) a full-time job in emergency management, government, military service, public safety, law enforcement, public health, public education (including early childhood education), social work in a public child or family service agency, public interest law services (including prosecution or public defense or legal advocacy in low-income communities at a nonprofit organization), public child care, public service for individuals with disabilities, public service for the elderly, public library sciences, school-based library sciences and other school-based services, or at an organization that is described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of such Code; or

(ii) teaching as a full-time faculty member at a Tribal College or University as defined in section 316(b) and other faculty teaching in high-needs areas, as determined by the Secretary.”

Of note, the law also reauthorizes and makes some adjustments to the various other federal student loan programs, including student eligibility, loan terms and conditions, among other matters. California’s Representative George Miller was the lead sponsor of the HR 2669.

As reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, inclusion of the non-profit workforce provision resulted from the efforts of the Nonprofit Sector Workforce Coalition, which worked to make sure the provision made it into the final version of the legislation.

 


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