New program would provide student loan relief to eligible frontline workers
The bills define “frontline worker” as “any person providing health, education, public safety or other necessary support services related to the coronavirus pandemic, as determined by the [Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board]. “
According to the proposals, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is allowed to create its own list of “frontline workers,” but should include:
- employees of public schools, open enrollment charter schools and private schools;
- employees of public and private higher education institutions;
- peace officers;
- emergency medical technicians;
- health professionals, including physician assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners, mental health professionals and hospital support staff;
- employees of nursing homes, state-funded nursing homes or similar long-term care facilities;
- daycare workers;
- social workers; and
- members of the Texas Military, United States Armed Forces, or a reserve component of the Armed Forces who have participated in coronavirus-related service.
In order to be eligible for student loan repayment assistance, applicants should have a college diploma or certification or have earned at least 30 semester hours towards a degree before starting work as a worker. frontline.
Those seeking help will need to demonstrate that they were frontline workers for a “substantial portion” of the time between March 15 and December 31 of last year. The bills give the board the flexibility to define what “substantial part” means.
Applicants should provide employment verification along with details of their student loans, such as amount of principal, interest, fees, and any other fees due in connection with their grade.
The bill is not designed to prevent anyone from not paying down their student loan debt. The bill specifically states that the State of Texas would indeed not be responsible for paying the full amount owed for the “period in which the premium is paid.”
The funds would not be distributed the same way as stimulus checks, but rather go directly to lenders.
Also, if an eligible applicant had a debt of less than $ 5,000 on a student loan, the person would only receive the amount they owed, not the entire $ 5,000.
In terms of funding for SB 32 and HB 1205, the text of the bills says that the board is required to “attempt to allocate all the money available to the board” for the program. The proposal also allows fundraising and grant applications.
In 2019, about 22% of U.S. families owed student loans, with each family in debt owing a median of $ 22,000, according to published data by the US Federal Reserve.
Americans in debt with federal student loans are not required to make payments until September of this year, per Biden presidential decree sign hours after its inauguration, extending a similar order that former President Trump instituted.
A copy of the SB 23, identical to the HB 1205, can be found below.