“Student debt is like a dark cloud that hangs over you and affects every single decision you have to make.” (Cleveland Teachers Union member)
Are you one of the millions of Americans who carry student loan debt? Perhaps, the quote above resonates.
Your union is gathering information about a possible benefit that could alleviate some of your debt.
Here’s the scoop: Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) and other New Mexican school districts are set to receive a large amount of funding from the Biden Administration as part of the American Rescue Plan. APS’s share of these monies is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $230 million! The district is planning to hold town halls to get input on how they should spend this stash of cash. The Albuquerque Teachers Federation (ATF) believes that a small portion of this money could be used to retain educators in the district and to attract new hires by negotiating student loan debt relief for APS employees.
“I stopped buying milk, eggs, fruit, and vegetables. I ate beans and rice for 8 months” (Albuquerque Teachers Federation member)
ATF Leadership has begun to engage in conversation with APS about rolling out such a program. If we successfully negotiate this benefit with APS, it would be an employer-based student loan assistance in the form of a reimbursable payment under IRS Section 127 – Educational Assistance Programs.
This money is available for the next 3 years and will expire in 2025. The reimbursement would not be taxed on the employer- OR the employee-side.
“Student debt controls my life every day like Atlas on my shoulders …for years now.” (Chicago Teachers Union member)
ATF’s survey is intended to gather information on the number of people in our bargaining unit (members and potential members) who carry student loan debt. We need to know how much your average monthly payments are. Tell us about the impact this debt has on you and your family. What opportunity costs come with paying student loan debt? Are you putting off making a major purchase? Is your debt repayment impacting meeting your basic needs? Is debt stopping you from providing enrichment activities for your family like vacations or music lessons? This is the type of information that will help us present our case. Click here to hear a message from ATF President Ellen Bernstein on the importance of filling out our survey.
APS has scheduled a virtual Listening Tour for the community to discuss priorities for spending the federal money. The meetings will take place Tuesday, August 31 at 10 a.m., 4 p.m., and 6:30 p.m. and Tuesday, September 7 at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. If you carry student debt, you might want to attend the town hall and tell them your story. You can register for the webinar here.
“Debt is like a ball and chain. It feels like it never goes away.” (United Federation of Teachers member)
In the meantime, please fill out this survey. It will close on Tuesday, September 7th.