California Educator

November 2014

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P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y S C O T T B U S C H M A N m o n t h l y s t u d e n t l o a n p ay m e n t a m o u n t s to t h e borrower's income. Many who owe may not realize they could be eligible for public service student l o a n f o r g ive n e s s . U n d e r t h i s p r o g r a m , y o u m a y qualify for forgiveness of t h e r e m a i n i n g b a l a n c e due on your federal loans after you have made 120 q u a l i f y i n g p a y m e n t s while employed full time by certain public service e m p l o y e r s , i n c l u d i n g school districts. For details, see and search for "loan forgive- ness teacher." I n c o m e - d r ive n r e p ay- ment plans are designed to make student loan debt more manageable by reducing the monthly payment amount. Generally, the payment amount is a percentage of discretionary income, and the percentage varies depending on the plan and when you took out your federal student loans. For Christiana Parish, a library media tech in Hayward Unified School Dis- trict, the income-based repayment plan that lowered her monthly payments has been a lifesaver. "I'm recommending that 100 percent," says Parish, who received her mas- ter's degree in science and library and information science from Pratt Institute in New York. "I had a number of private loans. I was able to consolidate them and take out one new loan with the government, which paid off the old loans." "I honestly don't know what I would have done without this," adds Parish, Association of Educational Office and Technical Employees. "Before, my pay- ments were so high, I couldn't rub two pennies together." Increasing student awareness of debt Connie Dominguez, a counselor at Carlmont High School in Belmont, used to tell students to "follow their hearts" when it came to selecting a college and worry later about loans or scholarships. Now that col- lege costs are so high, she advises them to first consider their pocketbooks. "Now I ask them to look at how much a school costs as opposed to two years at community college — especially if they go out of state," says Dominguez, Sequoia District Teachers Association. "I remind them t h a t t h e y w i l l o n ly ge t s o much federal and state aid, and the rest will be student loans. I ask them if they are OK with that and if they've had a discussion on finances with their parents." Getting a free ride to an expensive college is "oversold," and sometimes out-of-state tuition can be cheaper than attending a college in California, she advises. "I tell students that community college is one of the best-kept secrets in town. You can save $20,000 to $30,000 a year. I tell them that it's not where you start — it's where you finish. Most employers never ask where you started — they ask where you got a degree from. I try to make them aware of how expensive college can be, without crush- ing their excitement about where they want to go." Feature N E A P r e s i d e n t L i l y E s k e l s e n G a r c í a ( l e f t ) s u p p o r t s e f f o r t s b y S CTA m e m b e r s Audrey Millan, Jess Sanchez, Francisco Hernandez a n d Alina Archuletta i n t h e D e g r e e s N o t D e b t c a m p a i g n . Connie Dominguez Find resources, including the "Five Steps to Kick Student Debt." Go Online @ 34

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