The Biden administration announced changes on April 19, 2022 that would result in immediate student debt relief to some 40,000 borrowers.
The Public Service Forgiveness Program eliminates the debts of government and non-profit organizations’ workers, who have accrued at least 10 years of qualifying payments.
However, recent posts on social media claim there are also existing provisions that exempt family members of congressmen and congressional staffers from having to pay off student loans at all.
The claim is often framed around the broader debate of student debt forgiveness, which has become a major polarizing issue across the political and generational divides in the U.S.
The claim, which has been viewed nearly 300,000 times on social media platform Telegram, states both children and family members of congressional staffers don’t have to pay back their college loans.
It was shared on other Telegram channels, including The Daily Expose.
The post stated, in part: “Children of Congress members do not have to pay back their college student loans.”
“Staffers of Congress family members are also exempt from having to pay back student loans.”
This claim has been shared since at least 2010. Previous iterations of the claim have been debunked by other fact-checkers.
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education told reporters that there are no such provisions under Title IV of the federal student aid programs, which provide loans to Members of Congress and families of congressional staffers.
Responding to Newsweek’s request for comment, the Department of Education affirmed that federal staff are not exempt from paying their student debt.
“The U.S. Department of Education requires all federal student loan borrowers to repay their loan(s) and any accrued interest and fees,” the Department’s representative wrote in an email.
The misleading claim reappeared as the U.S. Department of Education announced its expansion of student debt relief to thousands of government agency employees.
“Federal student loans offer flexible repayment plans, loan consolidation, forgiveness programs, and more, which can be found at StudentAid.gov,” the email stated.
On April 19, the agency said its Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) would be extended to qualify 40,000 workers for immediate debt relief. Several thousand other borrowers with older loans will also receive forgiveness, in addition to “at least three years of additional credit toward IDR forgiveness” for another 3.6 million people.
The PSLF allows employees of U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit organizations to apply for a cancellation of the remaining balance of direct loans after making 120 qualifying monthly payments, while working full-time for a qualifying employer.
The program, created 15 years ago, had granted only a small fraction of applicants forgiveness until 2021. In March 2022, the Department of Education said it had identified 100,000 borrowers eligible for $6.2 billion in student debt forgiveness.
Government portfolio reporting from September 20, 2020, to February 28, 2022, shows the government paid out $7.1 billion in PSLF and related waivers, averaging around $70,883 per borrower.
The Biden administration has come under pressure recently from within the Democratic Party to expand student loan debt relief in an effort to avoid losses during the upcoming November midterm elections.
Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, writing in The New York Times earlier this week, identified the policy among a number of changes the government should explore, in an article titled “Democrats Can Avoid Disaster in November.”
In addition to PSLF, provisions set under the Federal Student Loan Repayment Program state that agencies can “repay Federally insured student loans as a recruitment or retention incentive for candidates or current employees of the agency.”
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) says that under this program, employees are eligible for up to $10,000 relief per calendar year, to a total of $60,000 per employee. However, to qualify, employees must “remain in the service of the paying agency for a period of at least 3 years.”
According to the most recent publicly-available report to Congress on the Federal Student Loan Repayment Program, 10,412 employees from 34 agencies received repayments in 2018, totaling $78.7 million.
Fact Check: Is Asking Someone If They Are Vaccinated a HIPAA Violation?
Fact Check: Is Asking Someone If They Are Vaccinated a HIPAA Violation?
The claim is false. Families of Members of Congress and of congressional staffers have to pay student loans. It is true that repayment plans are available to federal agency employees in general, not just those in Congress. However, these support measures are conditional, requiring employees to have already contributed towards servicing their debts and/or to have remained in federal employment for a number of years.
California is on track to remove any reason for its public university students to take out student loans.
Known as Middle Class Scholarship 2.0, the “debt-free” program is slated to receive its first infusion of money this summer: a cool $632 million that lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom promised in last year’s state budget that they said they’d fund this year.
If that money appears in the state’s budget this June, an anticipated 246,000 California State University students and 114,000 University of California students will receive this aid to help finance their educations starting this fall. Students at other California campuses, including community colleges, are ineligible.
The money will have an immediate impact on low- and middle-class students whose families generally earn less than $201,000. The exact amounts students receive will vary, but grants will range between $1,000 and just over $3,000 on average in the program’s first phase. Students in higher-income households will typically get the larger amounts to make up for the lack of aid they receive from other state and federal grants.
The awards reflect a portion of what students would get if lawmakers funded the whole $2.6 billion price tag. By committing $632 million this fall, the state is funding 24% of the program’s total cost, so each eligible student would receive 24% of the total amount they’d get were the scholarship fully funded.
Even at partial funding, those added dollars will likely lower student debt loads if lawmakers actually fund and maintain the program. Across the UC and CSU, students who borrowed federal loans and graduated in 2019-20 typically took out about $15,000, according to a CalMatters analysis of federal data. (Some students may also take out private loans or have their parents secure federal loans.)
Last year, lawmakers hailed the budget deal to fund the downpayment this year as something that will “ultimately eliminate the de facto requirement for lower- and middle-income students to rely on student loans to attend CSU and UC.”
“It will still fall short of … creating a real viable path to a debt-free, quality public degree in California,” said Jessica Thompson, vice president at the California policy group The Institute for College Access & Success.
Competing Financial Aid Overhaul Programs
While that first wave of money is likely a sure thing, it is still unclear whether the state will also expand its vaunted Cal Grant program to another 150,000 students as some lawmakers are currently seeking.
The decisions facing the Legislature and Newsom come down to somewhat competing but ultimately complementary visions of funding financial aid in California.
Expanding the Cal Grant program means another roughly 36,000 students would get their tuition fully covered at the UC and Cal States. An additional 109,000 community college students would receive non-tuition grants of $1,648, plus free tuition if they transfer to a UC or Cal State.
Several thousand students at private colleges would also get awards. The expansion, which would be made possible under Assembly Bill 1746, would effectively remove all the eligibility barriers that advocates say have plagued the Cal Grant, the state’s chief financial aid vehicle. The bill is being proposed by Democratic Assemblymembers Jose Medina of Riverside and Kevin McCarty of Sacramento — as well as Connie Leyva, a senate Democrat from Chico. Roughly half a million students receive the Cal Grant already.
But those extra students result in new annual Cal Grant costs that rival the price tag for the Middle Class Scholarship overhaul.
The Cal Grant expansion will cost anywhere from $250 million to $350 million for the tuition waivers and community college student grants. Then there’s another $130 million to $150 million to fund the $6,000 supplemental grant that parents who are students receive if they’re already Cal Grant recipients, among other add-ons, for a potential total of $380 million to $500 million or more.
Lawmakers of the Higher Education Committee unanimously approved the bill on Tuesday. About 40 students and advocates spoke in support of the bill by phone and in person, but it still faces a long road legislatively and in the state’s budget process.
The high costs were one reason Newsom vetoed a bill expanding the program last year, though he and the Legislature did loosen eligibility requirements to allow more than 100,000 new community college students to begin receiving grants for the first time.
If the goal is to eventually fully fund the Middle Class Scholarship, expanding the Cal Grant for UC and Cal State students doesn’t interfere with those aspirations. Because the Middle Class Scholarship overhaul is meant to cover the cost of attendance after all other aid is calculated, including an assumption that students raise about $8,000 by working part-time, increasing the Cal Grant program means spending less on the Middle Class Scholarship.
Think of the two programs as two chunks of the same cost-of-attendance pie. The larger the Cal Grant slice, the smaller the Middle Class Scholarship slice.
But that metaphor doesn’t apply to the costs for expanding the Cal Grant to community college students. Because the Middle Class Scholarship will only apply to UC and Cal State students, any new money that goes to Cal Grant expansion for community college students will mean more financial aid spending overall for the state.
One leading lawmaker wondered whether the state is rushing to fund the revised Middle Class Scholarship that’ll benefit a large share of middle-class students before it secured Cal Grants for all low-income college students.
“What can we as a Legislature do now to make sure that this is taken care of before we start putting in so much money into the Middle Class Scholarship Program?” asked Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes, a Democrat from Colton, during a March budget subcommittee hearing.
The Senate’s top lawmaker, President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, a Democrat from San Diego, said her priority is the scholarship and last year’s Cal Grant changes.
“My colleagues and I are paying close attention to this bill’s progress (AB 1746), while our top priority continues to be on proper implementation of Cal Grant and the changes to the Middle Class Scholarship implemented last year,” she wrote in an email last Friday.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office proposed something of a middle path: Before pouring money into the Middle Class Scholarship in subsequent years, the state could instead increase the grants the poorest Cal Grant recipients receive by $1,000 to $2,648. Doing so prioritizes the poorest students first while still moving the state closer to a debt-free promise.
Adding more students to the Cal Grant is also more of a fiscal commitment for lawmakers than the Middle Class Scholarship. Because it’s an entitlement, anyone eligible for the Cal Grant will get it, even during budgetary lean times — unless lawmakers expose themselves to political precarity by limiting the Cal Grant’s scope, something they didn’t do during the 2020 budget cuts spurred by the pandemic. The Middle Class Scholarship will always depend on how much money lawmakers want to send it annually.
Timing Problems in Middle Class Scholarship
One flaw in the debt-free program is its timing.
Most colleges require students to commit to enrollment and put down a deposit by May 1.
That’s because the UC, Cal States and the aid commission need that time to calculate how much institutional aid and Cal Grant support is going to every student — on top of all other aid, like federal Pell grants. Only then can the aid commission tack on the Middle Class Scholarship amount.
It’s a lot of work. Every student’s cost of attendance and financial picture is different and ranges from around $24,000 to $38,000, depending on the campus. Two students with the same family incomes may also have different costs because one plans to live at home while another lives off campus, typically a more expensive option. Meanwhile, some housing markets cost more than others, another reason cost of attendance varies.
Also, the Middle Class Scholarship’s funding is determined in June (so, after May 1) — when lawmakers and the governor agree on a state budget for the next fiscal year.
That means new students won’t know their full financial aid package until after they have to commit to a Cal State or UC — a quirk that will remain in the program unless policymakers find a workaround.
“We are working with the California Student Aid Commission to resolve concerns that have arisen about the program, and are evaluating if any legislative fixes might be necessary,” Atkins said by email.
Typically, campuses send first-time freshmen students their preliminary financial aid packages before May 1, allowing them to determine which college or university is the most affordable. Campuses then send final letters around early June.
These may not be significant worries when the Middle Class Scholarship grants are on average $3,000 or less. But if lawmakers grow the program, those grants may get large enough to potentially affect the attendance decisions of students — especially if a private college is promising more aid initially, only for a UC or Cal State to be less expensive after the Middle Class Scholarship is calculated.
Ryan King, a UC office of the President spokesperson, wrote in an email that the system will help students “make informed decisions over the summer about the other choices they face, such as whether or not to consider a student loan.”
UC Riverside’s director of financial aid, Jose A. Aguilar, doesn’t think the delay in when students will find out they’re getting additional money will influence their enrollment patterns. That’s based on his observations administering campus scholarships. Whether students get those or not, they’ll still end up attending the school of their choice, he said.
He also notes that the delay affects all UC and Cal State campuses equally, so no public university has a competitive advantage over the other in letting students know they’re getting more financial aid.
We hope everyone is well and safe during these troubled times of change. The United States is the strongest country and have the most resilient people on earth, which is why everyone worldwide wants to live here.
We are the land of strength,education and opportunity. No other country has the power and strength we all have in the USA. We have been in existence for almost two and a half centuries and we have gained so much power because of one thing. It’s because of you and everyone you see around you. We are all one big team working towards the same goal. But now we are filled with the ultimate task of continuing to prosper while adapting to the changes that have become the new normal and come up with new ways that will assist us in obtaining our goals.
Many of us were used to going to conferences in locations throughout the country. The conferences became a way to meet potential new clients and keep in front of your existing clients, while also attending educational seminars. Some think that it will be difficult to continue growing our business and keeping our existing client’s content. The good news is that we have already created all the platforms that will in effect take the place of physically going to conferences.
As far as educational seminars at a conference are concerned, zoom and other platforms similar to it can do a fantastic job at providing a safe alternative to fulfill your ongoing requirements. In fact, in many ways a zoom meeting is better than attending in person. All registered users have access to watch the same fabulous educational videos over and over which is an invaluable asset. The internet also provides all kinds of tools to keep you in front of your existing clients. WWW.COLLECTIONINDUSTRYNEWS.COM is published weekly and sent to over 100,000 OPT IN subscribers. Newsletters provide an excellent platform for companies to show that they are active and serious about promoting their company. You can write articles and press releases and submit them to WWW.COLLECTIONINDUSTRYNEWS.COM which is an excellent way to show that you know your business and it also creates a positive image of you and your company. Also, running ads that give a viewer a reason to call you. Many times we are trying to find the contact information for a business and if you knew where they were advertising you could just click on their link and correspond with them.
SeizeAssets.com investigates debtors and companies and produces actionable data which is extremely desirable for many different groups of clientele looking to find assets.
For example, debt buyers using our services carefully select debtors in their files that have higher debt balances and live in a zip code where the average income is higher than most of the country. The hit ratios we return prove to be much higher. In addition, we have returned results for many debtors that had multiple bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and safety deposit boxes.
Some of the other research companies mostly return bank accounts without balances or last deposit known deposits and don’t have the same investigative capabilities as Seize Assets. Seize Assets locates a higher number of multiple banks on debtors and reports other important data to our clients that help in the collection of debt. We guarantee our verified results!
Seize Assets provides many beneficial services to assist you in recovering monies and finding assets. Here are some of the most utilized:
Location of Bank Accounts (statewide and nationwide)
Location of Investment Accounts
Social Security and FEIN locates
Employment Location and Verification
Safety Deposit Boxes
Pre-Litigation on court approved matters
Estate & Probate
Personal Injury Settlement
Property, Land & Sea Vessels
Full Investigative Services
Judgment Enforcement Collections
Divorce & Child Support
Business Partner Investigation
Fraud & Embezzlement
There isn’t a day that goes by that Seize Assets doesn’t receive files from clients that were previously searched with other research companies that missed banks, brokerage accounts or places of employment data. Creditors, attorneys and collection agencies love Seize Assets’ services and many give us files where the judgments are more than 5 years old and so far, no monies have been collected. Our clients are so thrilled when we find financial data, many send us thank you emails and gifts.
Seize Assets specializes in hard to find financial data on people and companies. We service many other types of attorneys and individuals who need our services and who have legal permissibility. We welcome a challenge and offer many services to the legal community.
Take more control of your post-litigation efforts. You’ve worked this hard – don’t stop now! Go through your files and test our services by giving us judgment files that are older and where other research companies could not find actionable data.
If you have any questions, please call: 800-648-1914
There are thousands of demands made on creditors, collection agencies, debt buyers, and other attorneys every month by FDCPA litigant attorneys. The business is showing no signs of letting up and some will argue it’s about to pick up quite a bit. I spoke to a collection agency veteran who explained his prediction. He states there is more debt owed by consumers to creditors than ever before. Once defaults increase, you know what follows – a very busy debt collection industry. FDCPA and other consumer litigant attorneys will have a heyday especially since business is about to boom.
FDCPA litigation law is a growing practice and we can expect these lawyers and their clients to try and figure out more ways to get money from us good folks in the collection industry. The following is a list of debtor awards to watch out for.
This is where debtors claim to face problems at work because debt collectors call and disrupt their productivity. As a result, they seek lost wages and believe it or not, many times get it.
This seems to be in many complaints and demands. Debtors claim physical distress as a result of getting collection calls and letters and in the near future emails. Also claims of heart problems, skin rashes, and headaches. Also expect that they will go to the doctor and get diagnosed with some stress related issue which will require prescription medication. Doctors love to give scripts, so the more you complain, the more scripts you get. They always claim these issues are linked to an FDCPA violation and as a result, the debtor might recover costs for treatments plus other damages.
Debtors also claim the phone calls, messages, and letters have affected their emotional well-being. I heard from an attorney that his debtor claimed their personality changed because of all the abuse and due to this, his debtor will have problems for the rest of his life. They demanded long term care. Additionally, some claim when a collector speaks to a family member or friend, those relationships have been affected.
On top of what debtors collect for loses with regard to lost wages and distress, debtors can also receive $1,000 from each of their collectors according to the FDCPA. These damages are awarded when the debtor proves his rights under FDCPA have been violated. Just to be clear, even if the debtor proves the violation caused harm, the debtor could get $1,000 per law suit not per violation. So again – if the creditor violates FDCPA regulations multiple times, the consumer still only collects $1,000.
-Attorney’s Fees & Costs
If the violation is proven, the court sometimes allows the recovery of fees. This is very important as this is the way some litigant attorneys get paid.
In addition to awarding a debtor monetary damages, the court can also order the collector to cease all collection activities.
There are many more types of FDCPA violations debtors file claims against looking for financial gain. Does everyone reading this have third party FDCPA training as a part of your operations?
Making a small $99 investment to educate your collector with the country’s best FDCPA Course Education – including a personalized certification once the exam is passed – is a no-brainer! And the cost is even lower when multiple classes are ordered for staff.
Call 800-648-1914 and find out how easy it is to activate our on-line, self-directed training that allows you to track progress as your collectors gain the confidence needed to communicate successfully with debtors while avoiding the pitfalls of FDCPA violations.
Don’t risk being the next target of litigant attorneys and their debtor clients!