CSS wants to get rid of student debt | queenswide
If New York were to count the number of people in debt, that would encompass the entire population of Queens closer to one-fifth of Staten Island.
The Empire State ranks third in the United States with $99 billion in outstanding student loans among about 2.4 million New Yorkers, according to State Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-South Ozone Park ), using data compiled in 2020 by the Student Borrower Protection Center. , an advocacy group that protects the rights of lenders.
In 2021, the Federal Reserve estimated that in the second quarter of 2021, graduates nationwide owed $1.73 trillion.
Sanders, the Community Services Society, LawNY and Empire Justice hosted a Feb. 4 meeting on the issue.
“In 2019, the Community Services Society decided to try and tackle the problem of student debt and created [the Education Debt Consumer Assistance Program]said Carolina Rodriguez, CSS EDCAP Program Director. “EDCAP’s goal is to help student borrowers deal with their higher education debt.”
According to Rodriguez, EDCAP helps people deal with federal, private, and sometimes direct and institutional debts.
“Since 2019, we’ve seen an increase in demand for services for the right reasons,” Rodriguez said. “Student loans have been frozen, but in May payments are expected to resume.”
More New Yorkers will have their debt addressed or eliminated under the civil service loan waiver if they are able to successfully apply, but that is also time-limited, the program director added.
“Borrowers should take action by October 1, 2022,” she said. “The other thing that has really driven demand for consumer assistance in this area is the changes in the student loan servicing industry.”
Some student loan servicers don’t help lenders, give them the wrong information, or put them on the wrong payment plan, leading to increased debt and loan balances, Rodriguez added. On top of that, three student loan services said they would no longer handle federal student loans. The most important of the three is FedLoan Servicing.
Navient and Granite State Management & Resources were the other two, according to Forbes.com.
FedLoan currently operates the public federal student loan forgiveness program, Rodriguez said.
“This has hampered the current administration’s efforts to process the program,” said the EDCAP program manager. “When we get a call or a request for help, we look at the student’s loans, the type of loan they have and assess their financial situation.”
EDCAP works with lenders to create short and long term plans to help them settle their debt through comprehensive case management.
In one case, an employee of the city’s Department of Education was told by EDCAP that she had the wrong student loans to qualify for the PSLF. The program helped her meet the requirements for a temporary expanded PSLF and one year of work together, $100,000 was tax exempt.
“It’s really important to note that an expansion of this program would help more people in New York State get loan forgiveness,” said Kristin Brown, CEO and President of the Empire Justice Center, a law firm non-profit lawyers.
When more people get loan forgiveness, they’re able to spend money that could boost the local economy, Brown said. Thousands of people are eligible for student loan forgiveness, but they need advice on how not to be trapped in debt.
“EDCAP could make a huge difference in helping our officials navigate complex rules,” Brown said.
Governor Hochul included a $3 million allocation for the program in her state budget proposal, Rodriguez said. Before the pandemic, EDCAP had just $500,000 from the legislature.
“A full implementation of the program is valued at $3.5 million,” Rodriguez said. “We will be asking the Legislative Assembly for additional support.”
Most of the funding that CSS secures for EDCAP will go to community organizations and legal service agencies to provide strong counseling services to student borrowers in their respective communities.
“We believe this is the best way to reach populations struggling with this issue,” Rodriguez said.
Anna Anderson, an attorney at LawNY, which provides free legal assistance, says the organization must refuse appeals about student loans because there isn’t enough funding for it.
“That’s why this funding and the expansion of this project is so critical,” Anderson said. “Families really need this help and they need this help from someone other than the loan officers who are currently not doing their jobs.”
Anderson has received calls from parents and grandparents about their loved ones’ struggle to get out of student debt.
“I’ve talked to grandmothers … trying to help their family members through their first college experience,” Anderson said. “They are now stuck with this debt which could potentially cause them to lose their homes or their own economic security.”
Should EDCAP receive the requested funding, the program would be expanded statewide.
“In New York, the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection provides some type of counseling to student borrowers and their other legal service organizations that provide some degree of student loan assistance, but certainly not the ability needed,” Rodriguez said. .
EDCAP participants have ongoing interactions with organizations and their partners, said the program director.
“With this funding, we will be able to identify and target different community organizations and legal service agencies that would allow us to serve every county in New York State,” she said. “The key thing about EDCAP is that consumers can come back to us and get reliable information to confront all the information that comes their way.”
Sanders, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has supported EDCAP since day one, according to Rodriguez.
“New York State … is in a debt crisis,” Sanders said. “Young and old have accumulated a huge debt and they seem to believe that there is no way out. Now there is. There is EDCAP.
Sanders believes funding should be tripled to meet the total needs of the population.
“I’ll be side by side with you to make sure that happens,” Sanders said.