AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera on Aug. 1 was among the participants in a roundtable discussion about public service loan forgiveness held at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.

The roughly 45-minute event was led by Sen. Bob Menendez, who in his opening remarks mentioned the PSLF Payment Completion Fairness Act, a bipartisan bill he’s behind that was introduced in late April.

Chiera spoke right after Menendez. She shared the stories of two Perth Amboy teachers who were paying more than $800 each per month for their student loans, and after attending AFT student debt clinics and having people assigned to them to help with the paperwork, “both of them had $120,000 dollars [in debt] erased.”

She also emphasized the need for high school students who want to be public servants to be made aware of the PSLF program so there is “a way they can do this and not be left with [a huge debt].”

“My question is … what can we do to help you get this message out?” Chiera asked Menendez. “You’re doing all of the heavy lifting in D.C., making sure these programs are available. What can we do to help you make sure that people are taking advantage of this program?”

Menendez called the AFT student debt clinics “a tremendous opportunity,” adding that creating public education awareness about PSLF would attract more people to careers in public service.

ABOVE: AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera speaks to Sen. Bob Menendez (right) on Aug. 1 at NJIT.
BELOW: Chiera, Menendez (third from left) and the other participants in the public service loan forgiveness roundtable at NJIT.

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