Join Your Labor Union, Drop Your Debt
By Ben Pollock, 965 secretary
Easing the burden of student loans — even out-and-out debt forgiveness — is available to all of us working in public education right now.
Members of the UA-Fayetteville Education Association / Local 965 are eligible for all benefits of the National Education Association. New among those is the NEA Student Debt Navigator neamb.com/Savi, powered by Savi Solutions, which helps members better manage all types of student loans. Besides its online calculator, the chief feature is that Savi’s team of financial experts is standing by for personal, one-on-one consultations with NEA members.
The ideal option of course is ending one’s debt with loan forgiveness. If you are an educator or other public-service worker with a federal student loan, several programs are available, depending on the type of loan and one’s current status. Savi can help with various student loans; many are eligible for refinancing, deferment or consolidation. Besides U of A faculty from tenured professors through instructors, the program is available to staffers who are 965 members.
Staff, whom the NEA calls “education service professionals” or ESPs, serve a wide variety of functions on campus:
- clerical services
- custodial and maintenance services
- food services
- health and student services
- security services
- skilled trades
- technical services
- transportation services
Just last October, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona modified the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, following an email campaign of more than 48,000 messages from NEA members. (The Trump administraton had denied 98 percent of the applications.) Deadline warning: The Cardona waiver ends Oct. 31, 2022.
The NEA Student Debt Navigator is a subscription program where the first year of service is free to us NEA union members, if they sign up by October 2022. Besides the online software, the subscription includes electronic form filing, cloud storage for documents, and personal phone or chat assistance from Savi’s debt experts. Savi also shares its tools and advice to those holding non-federal loans.
Wait: Doesn’t union membership mean monthly dues? Yes, you do have to pay to play, so to speak. But reconsider your numbers, please. These loans after years of repayments still have many thousands of dollars due. Then, Local 965 membership for full-time faculty members is $615 a year and staff employees pay $300.48 a year. Sign up at arkansas965.org/join. Or ask questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many details of this program — including multimedia files and an extensive FAQ list — can be found at the NEA article “Navigate Your Student Debt: NEA’s Student Debt Experts Have Created Tools Designed to Help Educators through the Complicated Student Debt System.”
NEA has published other articles on the topic as well:
- Slaying the Student Debt Monster — Your union can help you get your education loans under control. January 2021
- NEA Leads Fight to Fix Public Service Loan Forgiveness — The federal student loan forgiveness program for educators, fire fighters, nurses and other public service workers isn’t working. Cancelling their student debt is the right answer, union members say. April 2021
- Cancel Student Debt Now, Says NEA President — Educators who have served their communities for at least 10 years have held up their part of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness promise — and they should have their student debt canceled. June 2021
- The Depth of Educators’ College Debt — The rising cost of higher education has led to mountains of student debt among college-educated Americans. New NEA research shows the pervasiveness of this problem among educators, young and old, White, Black and Hispanic. July 2021
- You Did This! Fixing Public Service Loan Forgiveness — The Department of Education announced an overhaul of its broken Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, after receiving 168,000 emails from NEA members. October 2021
- Meet The Educators Whose Student Debt Has Been Forgiven — NEA members have fought hard for fixes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. With the new PSLF waiver, announced in October, many are finally seeing relief. January 2022
- How Savi Helps Educators Find Student Loan Debt Relief — Use this easy, interactive tool to find out which student loan forgiveness programs and repayment plans you qualify for and can save you the most money.
- Main link — NEA Student Debt Navigator Powered by Savi — Access this tool to find legitimate options to better manage your student loan debt.
- More Educators Are Finding Real Relief From Their Student Loan Debt — See how much NEA members are shaving off their student loan debt repayments by using the NEA Student Debt Navigator.
- Student Loan Debt — Resources to help lower — or even eliminate — your student loan debt.
- Getting on the Path to Student Loan Forgiveness — Find out what steps to take—and what pitfalls to avoid—to get as much of your student loan debt forgiven as possible.
- 4 Things Educators Need to Know About Student Loan Debt and Forgiveness Programs — Here’s what you need to know to save the most money.
- Student Debt Support — NEA is working to ensure education is affordable and accessible to all. By working to cancel student debt and improve forgiveness programs, we can make sure everybody who wants to learn and grow can do so — without exceptions.
Thanks to Bret Schulte and Kim Martin for editing.