During the upcoming August 9 meeting, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will proclaim this August Student Debt Awareness Month.
The motion submitted by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis is part of the meeting calendar, which is a collection of motions that are approved or rejected with a single vote.
Although some motions can be dragged to the calendar for discussion, they are usually approved in a blanket fashion.
Below is the full application submitted by Supervisor Solis:
Nearly four million Californians have over $145 billion in student loan debt, and the average college student today has over $38,530 in student loan debt. Black and Hispanic borrowers disproportionately take out more student loans than other demographics to access higher education and often face higher arrears and defaults.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in Los Angeles, borrowers in majority-minority ZIP codes have a higher percentage of defaults than borrowers in majority-white ZIP codes1. Additionally, two-thirds of all national student debt is held by women, who account for just 57 percent of total college enrollment, and black women incur more student loan debt during their undergraduate education than any other group.
This debt burden is compounded by the fact that there is a large information gap that all too often prevents student borrowers from knowing about and accessing federal programs that could help them manage their student loan debt. These federal programs offer affordable repayment options and full debt forgiveness opportunities.
The Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program was created to provide government employees with debt relief on federal student loans in exchange for a decade in public service.
The PSLF program is designed to support individuals in vital public service jobs in sectors such as non-profit organizations, social services, healthcare, law enforcement, government at all levels and other public service occupations. Since its inception, the PSLF program has suffered from several problems, including a lack of outreach to eligible borrowers, processing errors, and a failure to provide accurate program policy information.
On October 6, 2021, the United States Department of Education revised the PSLF program for a limited time, granting previously ineligible borrowers a limited PSLF waiver in order to receive credit for forgiveness of credit for their years of public service work. Borrowers have until October 31, 2022 to apply for this limited PSLF waiver. We encourage staff and members to review eligibility requirements prior to the October 31, 2022 deadline.
Earlier this year, in response to a request from Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, the Departments of Human Resources and Consumer and Business Affairs launched an awareness campaign to educate county employees and our contractors about the government loan forgiveness program. Efforts have included posting information on the county intranet site, engaging and training departments, and working with the state Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, which is leading the state’s effort for this program.
Since the awareness campaign began, interest has grown among county employees, with more than 25,000 employees viewing the campaign materials, which were distributed statewide by the Department of Human Resources. This month, the California state legislature will vote on two resolutions, HR 118 (Bonta) and SR 96 (Limón), to designate the month of August as Student Debt Awareness Month throughout the state of California.
As part of Student Debt Awareness Month, a statewide outreach campaign called The California Student Debt Challenge will begin, led by the Campaign for California Borrowers’ Rights, a diverse statewide coalition of more than 80 organizations across the state.
The California Student Debt Challenge, starting in August, urges all employers, especially government employers and government agencies, to advocate for public awareness and educate employees about the federally administered government loan forgiveness program and PSLF temporary waiver to inform. It is imperative that we support government workers in forgiving loans who make a huge contribution to our communities and have sacrificed so much during the pandemic.
I THEREFORE PROPOSE that the Board of Directors: 1. Designate August 2022 as Los Angeles County’s Student Loan Debt Awareness Month; 2. Assign the director of the Department of Human Resources to guide the district in participating in the California Student Debt Challenge; and 3. Direct the director of the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs to continue to encourage residents to learn about the federal government loan forgiveness program and to apply for the limited waiver, if appropriate.