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Celebrating student loan relief

“It was like waking up and learning you won the lottery.” That’s just one of the comments flooding the AFT offices from members who are elated to be free of student debt at last. After relentless advocacy, including an AFT lawsuit against former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that was so broken is finally doing what it is supposed to do: delivering relief from student debt for thousands of borrowers. So far, $6.2 billion in student debt has been forgiven for 100,000 public service workers like teachers, nurses and professors.

It's In The Mail: Loan Relief, At Last

When I got a pile of checks in the mail from FedLoan Servicing, I thought it was a scam. FedLoan is my student loan servicer, and even though I knew it was part of a new debt relief program I didn’t think I’d qualify for relief — and this was more than relief. It was actual checks.

But when I opened one of them — so I could report it as fraud — it said it was a refund for a student loan payment. My student loans had been cancelled as part of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and FedLoan was admitting it had overcharged me for two years. It was refunding me all those extra payments.

I was floored. FedLoan was canceling almost $40,000 worth of debt. And it was returning about $5,000 in overpayments.

At age 71, I never thought I’d see the day.

I am so grateful. Grateful to the union for urging me to apply for loan relief, and showing me how; grateful to Randi Weingarten for bringing a lawsuit against Betsy DeVos to fix the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program; grateful to everyone involved.

We're Pulling Together To End The Pandemic


There’s a lot of information going around right now about vaccines, mask mandates, rising rates, fatigued healthcare providers, and overflowing hospitals – it’s enough to make your head spin! We are reaching out to you to provide information and perspective.

This week, Governor Inslee issued a vaccine mandate for state employees, healthcare workers and contractors with exceptions for medical or religious reasons. PreK-12 and higher education workers were excluded from the mandate, although the majority of public colleges and universities have already established a vaccine mandate for anyone working at or attending their schools. King County and Seattle are also mandating employee vaccinations and it is possible that other cities and counties will follow suit.

Your vote is your voice

AFT President Randi Weingarten’s latest column outlines the urgency of using our voices—our votes—in this life-changing election, when we will make a choice “between President Donald Trump, who has trafficked in chaos, fear, lies and division, and former Vice President Joe Biden, who seeks to reverse Trump’s failures on COVID-19 and the economy, and to unite and uplift the American people.” Besides the four crises we face—a pandemic, an economic crisis, racism and a climate emergency—democracy itself is on the ballot, as Trump continues to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election.

‘Back to school’ like never before

In her September New York Times column, AFT President Randi Weingarten says that going back to school has never looked like it does now. Weingarten explains that because of President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus, which has been chaotic, contradictory and inept, and the lack of federal guidance and funding, we’re seeing a patchwork of school reopening plans across the country.

Read our FAQ on SEBB in 2021

SEBB FAQ

 

For our members' benefit, AFT Washington is hosting this FAQ from the Washington State Health Care Authority regarding SEBB's updates this year. Open enrollment is limited, so be sure you're ready when the time comes.

FAQ

Q. Will I continue to receive benefits next school year?

AFT members dive into candidate endorsement process

As the presidential elections inch closer and the field of candidates gets more and more competitive, AFT members are engaging, parsing campaign platforms, asking questions of the candidates, and voicing their priorities as educators, healthcare practitioners and public employees. Thus far, the AFT has hosted eight AFT Votes town halls in eight different locations across the country, giving members the opportunity to meet candidates in person and hear about their stands on education, working families, healthcare and other top-line issues. Also part of the AFT’s robust endorsement process: surveys, debate parties and lots of information on AFTVotes.org.

Weingarten: Educators must save democracy

“Teachers have always had power,” AFT President Randi Weingarten told the crowd at the TEACH opening plenary Thursday afternoon. “We need to own our power. And we need to build our power so we can move our agenda—for our students and our families; for safe, welcoming and well-funded public schools; for affordable higher education; healthcare that is a right, not a privilege; a living wage; a decent retirement; a healthy climate and a strong democracy.”

Best economy ever?

In AFT President Randi Weingarten’s latest column in the New York Times, she writes that, despite President Trump’s claims that we have the “best economy ever,” his policies are harming working and middle-class Americans, many of whom are struggling just to get by. “Our political and economic systems are so weighted toward the wealthy that opportunity will only come through the power of collective action,” she writes, using “the surest vehicles to increase opportunity for ordinary Americans”—public education, labor unions and voting. Read the full column.

Early childhood support requires adequate staffing

Some of education’s biggest problems come with its littlest students. At a working breakfast for paraprofessionals in prekindergarten, early childhood and Head Start, members swapped strategies for solving problems. Their discussion came during the AFT PSRP conference last week in Las Vegas, where paras from all over the country zeroed in on professional development and adequate classroom coverage.