All posts by nbender

NJ’s public workers rally in Trenton to protest historic health insurance increase

Katie Sobko of Gannett’s Trenton Bureau covered the Sept. 13 rally calling for fairness in health care costs. 

Christine O’Connell, president of the Union of Rutgers Administrators-American Federation of Teachers, said the health care increase would effectively translate to a pay cut, “so if they want to charge more, they need to pay us more.”

The Coalition of Rutgers Unions includes more than 11,000 members and has been negotiating a contract with the university. O’Connell noted that the school gets “tons of state and federal money.”

They just want to pass on costs to the workers that make the university work, from the dining services and student counselors to residence life,” O’Connell said.

Then, referring to a recent NorthJersey.com investigation into lavish spending on food delivery by Rutgers football, she added: “We don’t have access to free DoorDash or any of those perks.”

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Student debt relief

The Biden-Harris administration will cancel up to $20,000 for borrowers who received Pell grants as students, and up to $10,000 for individuals earning less than $125,000 annually and households earning less than $250,000. The administration has also proposed changes to income-driven repayment systems and permanent fixes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which will be life-changing for millions of borrowers. Here are the Education Department statement and the White House fact sheet. In the coming weeks, we will continue to share more information about how borrowers can easily access these new types of loan forgiveness. Here is what your members need to do now to take steps to access this relief. 

  1. Most important, make sure all their information is up-to-date on the federal student loan website and with their loan servicers, because some loan forgiveness will be automatic. 
  2. Sign up for Summer, an online student loan management platform, as soon as possible. This exclusive AFT member benefit will provide individual support to help members untangle all the loan repayment plans and rules and get on a path to loan forgiveness through their union. 
  3. Attend a weekly student debt webinar. These are held every Thursday at 7 p.m. and cover the latest student debt information in detail. Register here.

The AFT will be keeping members updated as Federal Student Aid rolls out the paperwork necessary to apply for the relief announced yesterday. We will be sharing more information as we receive it. To obtain the up-to-$20,000 in cancellation, most borrowers will have to complete an application that will be made available by Dec. 31, 2022 via the federal student loan website. Also on Dec. 31, the pause on student loans payments is scheduled to end. Members should expect that payments will resume beginning Jan. 1, 2023. 

Yesterday’s announcement did not change the deadline to apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness under a limited waiver; all borrowers must  apply by Oct. 31, 2022. Everyone working in public service who has federal student debt can and should apply for PSLF immediately. AFT members can do this and get free help by signing up for Summer.