Trends and Issues
Q.: Can you tell me about the new loan forgiveness program for areas of national need created by the HEA reauthorization?
A.: The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), the recently-signed reauthorization bill, creates a new loan forgiveness program for borrowers serving in areas of national need. Funding for the program is authorized beginning fiscal year 2009. Funding is subject to appropriations and will be available to borrowers on a "first-come, first-served basis."
The program provides up to $2,000 for each year of full-time employment in an area of national need that a borrower completes on or after August 14, 2008, the date of enactment of the HEOA. A borrower may receive up to a maximum of $10,000 (for no more than 5 years of service). In order to be eligible, a borrower must be employed full time and must not be in default. Parent PLUS loans and certain Consolidation loans will not qualify for this program.
"National need" covers various professions or careers, including: early childhood educators; nurses; foreign language specialists; librarians; highly qualified teachers; child welfare workers; speech-language pathologists; audiologists; national service; school counselors; public sector employees; nutrition professionals; medical specialists; physical therapists; and superintendents, principals, and other (school) administrators; occupational therapists; and dentists.
The law also states that "[t]he Secretary is authorized to issue such regulations as may be necessary to carry out this section." So, it is very likely this program will be discussed in negotiated rulemaking beginning this winter. (See Shoptalk Online edition 469.)
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