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In January 2015, I read about a teacher loan forgiveness program where part or all of your student loan could be forgiven.  I researched the program and discovered if you teach full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years in a low-income school or educational service agency, and meet other qualifications, you may be eligible for forgiveness of up to $17,500 on your Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and your Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans.  I downloaded the application, completed it and submitted it to the ESCNJ human resources department.  HR needed to complete one section verifying the applicant’s employment and the dates of employment.  I was told by Lorraine Small, the Director of HR at the time, that the commission did not meet the eligibility requirements.  I explained that it was not up to the commission to determine eligibility.  They just needed to verify the applicant’s employment information.  They refused to complete the paperwork.  When I pushed the issue, saying that our schools were on the list of approved schools, Pat Moran got involved and still refused to help out the teachers in the commission.  Mr. Moran went so far as to get the commission schools removed from the federal list of approved schools (TCLI Directory) by telling the NJ Department of Education that our schools were tuition based schools.  Saying this implied that the parents paid the students tuition which excluded us from eligibility.  The ESCNJ schools were removed from the TCLI Directory.  I fought unsuccessfully for months to get our schools back on the TCLI Directory.

                This past April, I read an article online about the federal loan forgiveness program.  It was talking about how many people had applied for the program and that most people were rejected even if they qualified.  It also gave the criteria to apply for the program.  The criteria hadn’t changed since I initially sent my application to HR.  I contacted the state of NJ’s Department of Education and copied the criteria from the article.  There was a new person in charge and she seemed much more willing to work with me to get my problem resolved.  Susan Akers had seen all the previous correspondence and made everything much simpler by emailing me the criteria for a school to be added to the TCLI Directory.  She stated in the email that educational services commissions were eligible for the program.  After several months of back and forth with the commission and the NJ DOE, the necessary information to have the ESCNJ schools added back to the TCLI Directory was received.  Today, we received word that the schools were added back to the list of approved schools.  Teachers who have been with the commission for at least five years can submit the application to HR.  They will complete their section and send it back to you to send to your lender.  You can download the application here:

https://ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/attachments/GEN1419AttachTeacherLoanForgivenessApp.pdf

 

The ESCNJ schools added to the list appear as follows on the TCLI Directory:

ACADEMY LEARNING CENTER- MONROE TWP

BRIGHT BEGINNINGS LEARNING CENTER – PISCATAWAY

CENTER FOR LIFELONG LEARNING – PARLIN

PISCATAWAY REGIONAL DAY SCHOOL – PISCATAWAY

NUVIEW ACADEMY – PISCATAWAY

FUTURE FOUNDATIONS ACADEMY – PISCATAWAY

NUVIEW ACADEMY ANNEX – PISCATAWAY

By William Schussler 

June, 2019