Church Workers Not Eligible for Student Loan Forgiveness
Did you know that if you got through college and/or seminary on federally guaranteed student loans, and went into any kind of ministry or church work after graduation, you have been cut out of the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness Program?
We didn’t either, but it’s true, and church leaders all over the country are concerned and protesting the change.
On January 31st, the U.S. Department of Education quietly changed eligibility requirements for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to specifically EXCLUDE people who do any kind of public service work for a religious organization or institution.
The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 stated that as long as graduates took public service jobs at nonprofits and made on-time loan payments for 10 years, their remaining debt would be wiped out.
The law covered a universe of public service jobs, including law enforcement, public schools, public hospitals and the like. It also said faculty at nonprofit universities and employees of all 501(c)(3) organizations, which includes most houses of worship, would also qualify.
That’s no longer true. The new guidelines say graduates whose work is related to “religious instruction, worship services, or any form of proselytizing” don’t qualify anymore.
Reacting to a growing furor, the DOE issued a statement saying “…individuals working at religiously-affiliated non-profit organizations who perform at least 30 hours of non-religious activities are eligible for student loan forgiveness.”That apparently means only church workers whose work is mostly non-religious can qualify for loan forgiveness.
Church leaders all over the country are protesting the change and organizing to protest to
Congress. They’ve created a Facebook group called “Clergy Serve the Public Too.”