TRENTON, N.J. – With doctors, nurses and emergency medical services personnel risking their lives on a daily basis to battle the coronavirus outbreak and save lives, Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips and Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso are urging the federal government to create a student loan forgiveness program so they don’t also have to carry the burden of the costs of their lengthy educations.
“The COVID-19 outbreak has healthcare workers stepping up in ways they’ve never imagined. They are risking their lives to fight an invisible enemy and we owe them much gratitude. We also need to acknowledge the debt they accumulated to be able to perform at the level that is now expected,” said DePhillips (R-Bergen). “Doctors and nurses working for private hospitals don’t qualify for certain public service forgiveness programs, but they are performing the same work as those in the public sector and they deserve the financial assistance.”
To be eligible for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, you have to be employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit organization. There is also a loan forgiveness program for teachers.
“Our health care workers and first responders are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19 using their education to save lives while risking their own and missing their families every day,” said DiMaso (R-Monmouth). “They truly deserve federal student loan forgiveness, at a minimum. We could not do this without them.”
Currently, without a federal forgiveness program in place for these health care workers, they can apply for limited relief, including suspending monthly payments and interest until Sept. 30 through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
This week, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that New Jersey residents with commercially-owned Federal Family Education Program Loans or privately held student loans will be eligible for options like 90 days of forbearance, waiving late fees, and ceasing negative credit reporting and debt collection. Last month, he announced that borrowers with loans from the New Jersey College Loans to Assist State Students (NJCLASS) program would be able to apply for similar payment relief programs.
“Our EMS members, the doctors and nurses leave their homes each day knowing they’ll be treating patients with a highly contagious and deadly virus,” said DePhillips. “Delaying payments or waiving late fees for their student loans isn’t enough. We need to do more.”
DePhillips and DiMaso plan to introduce a resolution at the next quorum that urges President Donald Trump and Congress to establish the student loan forgiveness program for certain doctors, nurses, and emergency medical services employees.