Village Voice 04.19.2017 : Page 27

areas,” says Galante. “Not because people don’t want to help people. But when you come out of so much training with so much debt, you have to think about yourself.” What all sides in the debate can agree on is that the present system is a poorly implemented mess. Jason Delisle, author of the American Enterprise Institute re-port, who as a staffer on the Senate Bud-get Committee had a front-row seat for the passage of the 2007 bill, blames the political process. “If you make it compli-cated and opaque, it’s easier to get it passed, because people don’t know what you’re doing,” he says. “But now you’re stuck with this program that’s compli-cated and opaque.” That still doesn’t explain why servicers of student loans have done such an atro-cious job informing borrowers of their forgiveness rights, or why the DOE has continued to contract with them as lend-ers regardless. In particular, numerous public-service workers have charged Fed-Loan with telling them they’d soon be eli-gible for forgiveness, then later backtracking to say their clocks would be restarted because they had ineligible loans. Danovich, the Florida civil engi-neer, says that not only did FedLoan of i-cers deny having told him he’d have his debt forgiven, but one said if he wanted to know if his loans would qualify for the program, “maybe you should have watched TV the day it was announced.” (Neither FedLoan nor the U.S. Depart-ment of Education had replied to Voice queries by press time.) “I’d like to think it’s just human error,” says Student Debt Crisis’s Abrams, who suggests that any borrowers who have been unfairly turned down for debt for-giveness contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and ile a claim. She points to the CFPB’s pending lawsuit against loan-servicing giant Navient for, among other things, tagging paid debts with the wrong three-digit code, miscate-gorizing as deliquent thousands of veter-ans and people with disabilities. Even if it’s mere incompetence and not malfeasance, that’s cold comfort for public-service workers now facing many more years of payments while hoping that the loan forgiveness program lasts long enough for them to take advantage of it. “As a 22-year-old, having no experience in any of this, [a salary of] $30,000 a year sounds great,” says Adamson. “But no one ever helped me understand the amount of money I was taking out, and what that would do for the rest of my life.” She says if she’d known she’d be denied loan forgive-ness, she would have made entirely differ-ent educational choices, seeking either a cheaper degree program or one that would lead to a higher-paid job. “I feel like they just get away with what-ever because no one really oversees them,” she says. “I am not trying to get out of pay-ing my bills — I understand that I went to school, and I am responsible for that. But if you put these programs in place, help peo-ple take advantage of them.” 27 CLASS ACTION April 19 April 25, 2017 VILLAGE Dr. Dan Galante at his workplace, Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, MD: “If they were to stop this, I think they’d see a lot less people going to underserved areas.”

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