New York, New York
I am a professor at a State University, an eligible PSLF employer, at which I have taught full-time for the past 19 years. I would like to begin by thanking you for this opportunity to respectfully urge you to include FFEL Spousal Consolidation Loans into the PSLF.
I was the first in my family to attend college. My mother was a single mom and I left for my first day of college in September 1986 from a New York City public housing project. I was determined to break a cycle of poverty and saw higher education as the way to do that. I did not know my father and when I entered NYU, my mother earned less than the school’s annual tuition. I was, in other words, solely responsible for financing my college education. Towards the end of my undergraduate years, I decided to pursue a career as a professor of history, a path that required a total of 12 years of full-time study. I received my Ph.D. in 1998.
During this time, I had married my husband of now 28 years. We are the blessed parents of seven children. As we pursued careers while raising a large family, we did everything we could to simplify our lives. This included consolidating our loans in December 2001, combining Joe’s $8,000 debt non-forgivable debt with my much larger $74,000 – now theoretically forgivable - burden for a total of $82,000. As of today, we have paid over $100,000 in interest and more than $33,000 in principal. We have not missed a payment 23 years. In spite of this sacrifice and commitment, without your help we will continue to pay on this loan until 2033, when I will be 65 years old.
Our responsibility to repayment has meant that we have struggled for years as we support a large family in New York City, one of the most expensive regions of the country. All seven children live at home and, although Joe and I make respectable salaries, we still live paycheck-to-paycheck, with no cash margin to provide a buffer should we encounter a financial emergency. We have lived responsibly and, thankfully, have been able to avert financial crises over the past three decades. But the stress and worry of encountering a hardship outside of our control has been, and continues to be, enormous.
As PSLF became public, Joe and I were told that although we signed off on a loan that has the word “Federal” in its title, our Federal Family Education Loan is actually backed by the State of New York and, as such, is currently ineligible for PSLF. I implore you to include these loans, after a process of loan “deconsolidation,” in the loan forgiveness program that has been generously extended to other borrowers, including those holding a spousal consolidation direct loan. Doing so would help me as well as scores of other Americans who rank among the longest-paying student borrowers in our country.