Last week, I saw something worrying pop up on my Facebook news feed. It was a link to an article about the possible cancellation of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
What is that? The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program forgives student loan debt after someone works for a non-profit organization for ten years, and makes qualifying student loan payments in the meantime.
I have been working toward loan forgiveness for last few years. Once I complete my Peace Corps service, I will have four years of payments completed, and six years to go until I will (potentially) qualify for forgiveness. (Time served in the Peace Corps counts toward loan forgiveness.)
When I returned to graduate school for social work, I was willing to take on debt, with the intention of working toward loan forgiveness. But now forgiveness is being threatened. An attorney was quoted in the article I read (see first link above) as saying that the cancellation of the program probably would not affect people already working toward forgiveness. I hope that’s true. If it is, yay for me. But what about those people entering universities right now? How do we make it viable for future social workers, teachers, and others in the helping professions to obtain the advanced degrees they need to succeed in their fields?
[According to the National Association of Social Workers, “A master’s in social work is the predominant social work degree for licensed social workers.”]
I returned to college at age 30 to earn a Master’s Degree in social work. Prior to that, I had spent years working as a writer and editor. Jobs in the publishing world have been drying up, and after being laid off, I decided I needed a career change. Had I not known about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, I don’t know that I would have made the decision to return to school. It would have been too expensive.
When people ask me “What do you plan to do after Peace Corps?” I kind of smile to myself. Because no matter where I move, I plan to spend the next six years working for a non-profit in the hope and expectation of having my debt forgiven. I just hope the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is still around.