Stop Financial Attack on Teachers in Low-Income Schools

Target: James Preston, President & CEO, FedLoan Servicing

Goal: Return grants to teachers unfairly saddled with debt.

A program meant to be an incentive for teachers to work in low-income schools teaching high-impact subjects like math and science has instead overwhelmingly turned against its participants, according to investigative reports. Teachers who have already met or are still currently upholding the requirements of the TEACH program are finding themselves unexpectedly and unfairly thousands of dollars in debt, as their grants are turned to loans due to things like minor paperwork issues.

Recipients of grants through TEACH—a federal program that began in 2008—were given as much as $4,000 a year toward their undergraduate or masters degrees if they agreed to teach high-need subjects in low-income schools for four years. They have eight years to fulfill those requirements, and submit paperwork each year showing their progress. A government review shows that over 12,000 participants who have already met or are still meeting these standards have found themselves with as much as $20,000 of debt virtually overnight, as their grants were converted to high-interest loans by the loan servicer FedLoan.

Teachers whose infractions were reportedly as insignificant as sending in paperwork with a minuscule error, or which arrived one day past the deadline (despite being postmarked within the correct timeframe, or not being received by the teachers before the deadline was past), are now being financially punished for doing good work at challenging schools. Many teachers say that when they called to contest this, they were informed by FedLoan representatives that once their grants were converted to loans, they could not be switched back. One teacher even says he was told, “You can try to appeal this if you want. But nobody ever wins.” What began as financial aid for the people shaping young minds and filling one of our country’s strongest needs has turned into a burden and a trap. Sign below to demand that these teachers’ so-called ‘debt’ be forgiven.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Preston,

It is an unacceptable violation of the core values of our country to saddle teachers with thousands of dollars of unexpected debt overnight, while they continue to serve America’s youth in the subjects and locations where help is most needed. The TEACH program gives grants to participants who teach high-need subjects in low-income schools, and over 12,000 teachers who have met or are currently meeting those requirements have had their grants converted to loans, and have been told there is nothing they can do about it, according to a government review.

FedLoan cites issues with paperwork as the cause for many of these conversions. However, these teachers are continuing to meet the requirements of the TEACH program, and in many cases the paperwork issues are minor and resolvable, and do not warrant this level of irreversible punishment. The TEACH program is an incentive that benefits America’s children. The entire program is undermined when the teachers participating are being taken advantage of this way. I urge you to return the grants of those participants of the TEACH program who were saddled with loans, but who are still meeting the program’s requirements.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Douglas P. Perkins

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One Comment

  1. Gen Agustsson says:

    stop it!

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