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9:09 PM Sat, Nov. 17th

New program offers student loan reduction, forgiveness to government employees

Employees with government, non-profit and public service jobs who have incurred student loan debt have an opportunity to apply for a reduction in monthly payments and/or loan forgiveness after 10 years.

The idea for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF) originated from the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 which encourages individuals to enter public service jobs. For Yavapai County School Superintendent Tim Carter, the program may help attract and retain teachers.

Carter told the county supervisors at the Board of Supervisors meeting Sept. 7 that a survey that asked why people leave teaching careers and why there aren’t more people entering the profession revealed two explanations.

“Two reasons: salary and benefits, and college debt,” Carter said.

He talked about the program and also a company, Innovative Student Loan Solutions (ISLS), that can help employees reduce their student loan payments at no cost to municipalities or school districts. ISLS charges employees for their service, but employees can apply to the loan forgiveness program on their own at no fee.

ISLS walks an individual through the application process to see if they qualify for the program and if they want to become a client. In general, individuals pay a base implementation fee of $995, with an annual renewal fee of $195 for the 10-year program. At the end of 10 years, or 120 payments, the Federal government forgives the remainder of the loan. Monthly payments and fees are determined by the individual’s income-to-debt ratio.

Carter said the program will roll out to employees of school districts this month. Next year, it will be available to cities and special districts; the following year to non-profit employees.

There is no cap on the amount of debt that can be forgiven, nor on the degree level or educational program in which one is, or has been, involved.

County Administrator Phil Bourdon said not only will school districts benefit, but he would like the county’s Human Resources to let applicants know about the program.

“It will assist with our retention too,” Bourdon said.

In other action, the supervisors:

Approved 3-1 (Craig Brown opposing, Chip Davis absent) an amended compensation plan for nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Proclaimed Sept. 17-23 as Constitution Week in Yavapai County.

Canceled elections in school districts in which the number of board candidates filled the number of vacancies with no need for an election.