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Reposted in Full

Newsletter from Equal Justice Works:

  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness Update:
    • Republican members in the House recently sent a letter to the Chairwoman of the House Education and Workforce Committee to voice their support for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Be sure to thank the following Congresspeople for their support of Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
      • Rep. David P. Joyce – Ohio 14th Congressional District
      • Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick – Pennsylvania 8th Congressional District
      • Rep. Dan Newhouse – Washington 4th Congressional District
      • Rep. Patrick Meehan – Pennsylvania 7th Congressional District
      • Rep. Don Young – Alaska At-Large Congressional
      • Rep. David B. McKinley – West Virginia 1st Congressional District
      • Rep. Charles W. Dent – Pennsylvania 15th Congressional District
      • Rep. Rodney Davis – Illinois 13th Congressional District
      • Rep. Tom MacArthur – New Jersey 3rd Congressional District
      • Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón – Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico
      • Rep. Paul Cook – California 8th Congressional District
      • Rep. David Young – Iowa 3rd Congressional District
      • Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo – New Jersey 2nd Congressional District
    • To protect Public Service Loan Forgiveness, we need to make sure members of the Senate Healthcare, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee knows how important it is. If you are represented by a Republican Senator on the HELP Committee, call and tell them how important Public Service Loan Forgiveness is to you!
      • Senator Lamar Alexander – Tennessee
      • Senator Mike Enzi – Wyoming
      • Senator Richard Burr – North Carolina
      • Senator Johnny Isakson – Georgia
      • Senator Rand Paul – Kentucky
      • Senator Susan Collins – Maine
      • Senator Bill Cassidy – Louisiana
      • Senator Todd Young – Indiana
      • Senator Orrin Hatch – Utah
      • Senator Lisa Murkowski – Alaska
      • Senator Pat Roberts – Kansas
      • Senator Tim Scott – South Carolina
  • The fight to protect Public Service Loan Forgiveness is not over! If you are interested in protecting Public Service Loan Forgiveness, go to PreservePSLF.com. Whether you need quick facts on Public Service Loan Forgiveness, are interested in seeing our letters to Congress, or want to start advocating for the protection of PSLF, you can find everything you need here.
  • On May 23rd at 2:00 pm EST, we will have a free webinar, “The Public Service Loan Application Process.” October will marked the ten year anniversary of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and the first group of borrowers are earning Public Service Loan Forgiveness. This free webinar will teach you about Public Service Loan Forgiveness and the application process. You can join live or watch later. if you register prior to the live event, you will receive a recording in the 48 hours following the live version. Register for a free webinar today
  • On May 22nd at 2:00 pm EST, we will have our latest educational free webinar, “Student Debt Relief Basics.” This free webinar will teach you about the various repayment plans, loan cancellation provisions, how to earn Public Service Loan Forgiveness, what to do if you are behind on your payments, and how to lower your loan payments using loan repayment assistance programs. You can join live or watch later. If you register prior to the live event, you will receive a recording in the 48 hours following the live version. Register for a free webinar today!
  • Equal Justice Works’ Educational Debt Program is now offering in-person (or virtual) presentations to public interest law employers. We can help provide your staff members with the information necessary to better manage their student debt. Presentation requests can be sent to Equal Justice Works’ Director of Law School Engagement and Advocacy, Isaac Bowers, at ibowers@equaljusticeworks.org.
  • If you or anyone you know has a student debt question or concern, email us at studentdebt@equaljusticeworks.org and one of our professionals will get back to you.

The educational debt landscape is always changing, but Equal Justice Works can help. You can expect a newsletter from us every month, and more information is always available at equaljusticeworks.org.

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Today’s Indivisible Action is on my Hobby Horse

I’ve been concerned about Public Service Loan Forgiveness for a while. Since October 2017 when the first folks became eligible for forgiveness but 1 in 3 applications were denied, partly because the guidelines were unclear and there was no way to check ahead of time if you were doing things right to qualify.

You must do at least three things right: have the right sort of Federal student loans; be in the right sort of income-driven repayment plan; be in qualifying employment before you start making your on-time payments for ten years. I have my vested interest in this. I’ve been working in the public interest, with my loans in an income-based repayment plan, making my monthly payment on time, for about six years. I’m a little over halfway there. Spouse and I will still both be middle-aged, just in our 50’s, though a bit older than someone who graduated law school in their 20’s when the program already existed.

Public service loan forgiveness is not an unearned benefit. It’s not a gift. Public service loan forgiveness is an investment in our communities. When a person spends years and tens of thousands of dollars on their own education in order to work in the public interest–as a nurse, a teacher, a public defender, a civil servant, a fireman–they have incurred debt and restricted their family’s income potential in order to serve all of us, in order to make our cities, our towns, our neighborhoods healthy and functional for everyone.

As a society, we owe it to our public service professionals to support their investment in us. Please take a few minutes to call your member of the House of Representatives and tell them you hope they’ll protect Public Service Loan Forgiveness, a George Bush era reform which passed with over-whelming bi-partisan support (The House of Representatives approved the law 292 to 97; the Senate vote was 79 to 12).

Action 2: Tell Your Rep. to Protect Federal Financial Aid and Education Oversight

Late last year, while reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, Republicans on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved the PROSPER Act (H.R.4508). This harmful bill decreases federal financial aid and rolls back regulations that protect students from predatory for-profit colleges and trade schools.

The PROSPER Act ends three important financial aid programs:

  1. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program
  2. Subsidized student loans that allow low income students to avoid interest payments while in school
  3. The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant

It also increases minimum loan repayments, eliminates debt forgiveness horizons, and requires a minimum monthly payment even for borrowers near and below the poverty line. Modeling by the Center for American Progress shows that these changes may raise loan repayments for low income students by tens of thousands of dollars and increase the time they are repaying loans by decades. In addition, the PROSPER Act eliminates key safeguards that protect students, including the “90/10 rule” (which bars for-profit colleges from getting more than 90% of their revenue from federal aid), as well as the gainful employment regulation (which prevents career training programs with poor educational outcomes from receiving federal money). The bill also weakens regulatory power by removing states’ power to oversee online schools, and it hinders state efforts to hold student loan providers accountable.

By making it harder for students to afford higher education, the PROSPER Act prioritizes private industry interests while increasing the burden on Americans.

Script: Hello, my name is [NAME] and I’m a constituent from {ZIP CODE} and member of Indivisible Chicago.

I am calling to ask {PERSON} to oppose the PROSPER Act (H.R. 4508) because this bill makes it harder for students to afford higher education and eliminates regulations that protect students from predatory for-profit schools.

Thank you for your hard work answering the phones.

[NOTE: If leaving a voicemail please leave your full street address to ensure you call is tallied.]

#TeamBiss

Daniel Biss

  • Because he has called for Madigan to step down as chair.
  • Because he has pledged a 50% woman cabinet.
  • Because when he talks about marijuana legalization he talks about commuting sentences and the racial bias in the justice system.
  • Because he has an excellent voting record on LGBTQ issues.
  • Because I’ve heard him answer <questions one on one with constituents and I believe he’s thoughtful, sincere, smart and dedicated.

Because Daniel Biss is progressive.

The Proposed Federal Budget Undermines Economic Stability for Most Americans

SEIU, Indivisible, OFA, National Women’s Law Center and others are collecting stories about how the proposed budget will harm people. I’ve submitted my story about the proposed gutting of income based repayment and public service loan forgiveness for student loans. But there’s a lot at stake from housing, food for children, public transportation, disease prevention and medical research. Not to mention the tiny bit of public money devoted to arts. Submit at Hands Off!

If you haven’t thought about speaking out against the proposed cuts to social security, to food for poor children, to heating assistance for poor people living in colder parts of the country, to health care for many people through Medicare or Planned Parenthood, to student loan repayment assistance for teachers and public interest workers, here are some things to read about the impacts:

NOTE: CNN & time autoplay video constantly so beware those links. Also, this is not a carefully curated list. I have taken topics that arose in the partisan mailings I read and tried to find more neutral, general audience sources for the same information.

The Shriver Center on the budget’s impact on affordable housing

CityLab on the impact of the budget on Amtrak, infrastructure and on housing/HUD

Time magazine, NPREd, Consumerist, US News, and  on student loans and paying for college

The Guardian (another Guardian article), the ABA Journal, the Washington Post, CNN, the Atlantic on the defunding of the Legal Services Corporation proposed in the budget

How the budget guts medical research (NPR) (Washington Post), children’s health care (CNN), Medicaid (Washington Post) (USA Today), health and human services generally (Chicago Tribune), CDC disease and outbreak prevention (Kaiser Family Foundation) (Stat News)

Newsweek on the general outrage over the budget.

These are My Thoughts, as Expressed by Others

shriver berg onbeing

The Shriver Peace Institute, a person I don’t know on Facebook, a theologian quoted at On Being.

I live in a mostly white, mostly college-educated, mostly professional neighborhood where the median income is $20k higher than the city’s median income as a whole. I have lived in this 0.249 square mile for at least 10 years now. Wednesday, November 9, 2016, I witnessed  the first overt racist harassment I have seen in my neighborhood, by a man, shouting racists things at three African-American clerks in my corner drug store in the name of the president-elect. I feel ill-equipped to intervene, unsure how to turn the tide, frightened that more people will be threatened, that others will be physically harmed.

I’m trying. I will do what I can. This is not normal.

Every 109 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted.

There is a lot of credible information showing that the rate of sexual assault in the United States is appallingly high. 1 in 5 women is raped in her lifetime and in the 12 months prior to the CDC’s 2012 comprehensive report on sexual violence, 1 in 20 women reported experiencing some form of sexual assault in the 12 months prior to the survey alone. Close to 90% of those rapes and assaults are committed by their partners, their family members, their friends and acquaintances.

We know this is true. I know this is true. The women who are my friends know this is true.

Where do we meet these men who rape us? Who assault us? We meet them at our friends’ houses. At our friends’ gigs. We meet them through our friends, our co-workers, our families.

You introduce them to us. Maybe you don’t know that you’re introducing us to someone who believes he has the right to touch us without our permission.The right to stick his tongue in our mouths when we’ve said no, or turned away, or tried to keep our jaws closed tight. The right to have sex with us–to rape us–when we have not said “yes”.

I hope you don’t.

But if you’ve heard that person defend a rapist by saying that women are teases, or that women lie about assault, or that his life will be ruined by the accusation, then you know that this is not a safe person for your friends to be alone with.

If you’ve heard that person speak admiringly about PUA tactics or whine about the Friend Zone, you should be suspicious that this is not a safe person for your friends to be alone with.

If you’ve heard this person defend misogyny or sexism with some version of “that’s guy talk” or “boys will be boys”, you should not trust this person to be respectful and safe for your friends to be alone with.

This is rape culture. It normalizes the idea that women are tools of male satisfaction. When these ideas are unchallenged, the men expressing them believe that it’s normal and okay to assault women. And then they will assault your friends–my friends, me–with the trust that you think it’s normal to behave that way, and so it is okay for them to behave that way.

Work to make the world safe for your women friends, your sisters, your daughters by making sure that your sons recognize and reject rape culture. Call out that friend who thinks women lie about rape to protect their reputations, to hide an embarrassing liaison, to ruin some guy’s life. Don’t laugh at their grotesque jokes about assault.

Don’t teach your children that a man can brag about grabbing women in a sexual manner without their consent or can claim to kiss them whether they want it or not and be a viable presidential candidate.