Monadnock Ledger-Transcript – Student Loan Relief For Essential Workers?
Representative Annie Kuster is sponsoring legislation providing $ 25,000 in student debt relief or tuition assistance for essential workers.
The “Hero Opportunities Act” would benefit grocery store workers at fire stations.
The gubernatorial candidate Senator Dan Feltes has made a similar proposal to offer frontline workers two years of free schooling at community colleges and universities in New Hampshire.
Opportunity for Heroes Act
Representative Kuster’s bill, the Hero Opportunities Act, would provide $ 25,000 for student loans or tuition. The bill creates a commission to determine which employees are eligible for the benefit, but the bill also lists certain employees whose eligibility is guaranteed. Benefits guaranteed to workers include:
Grocery store employees
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics
Manufacturers of personal protective equipment (PPE)
Transport workers, from taxi drivers to truck stop workers
Social workers and advocates for survivors of domestic violence
Funeral service employees
There are other student debt relief proposals at the state and federal levels. For example, Representative Carolyn Maloney from New York is sponsoring a bill to write off all student loan debt owed by medical workers.
In New Hampshire, state senator and gubernatorial candidate Dan Feltes is supporting two years of free higher education for frontline workers.
A way to thank the workers
Supporters of these ideas argue that our country must compensate essential workers for putting their health at risk during the coronavirus pandemic.
Truckers, grocery store cashiers, sanitation professionals, nurses and many more support our survival as a society. Yet many of these workers earn less than they could receive with current unemployment benefits.
Student debt relief isn’t just a way to say thank you. It also stimulates the economy by putting more money in the pockets of workers each month. This could be spent on housing, cars or other consumer goods.
Student loan relief could have a particularly big impact in New Hampshire, as the Granite Staters have the fourth average student loan debt in the United States ($ 34,415).
Is Student Loan Relief a Partisan Idea?
Some opponents argue that student loan debt relief is a Democratic Party priority that is not directly linked to the coronavirus emergency. If we want to compensate essential workers for their help, we can give them special allowances, similar to the current New Hampshire program that provides $ 300 per week to firefighters, law enforcement, paramedics and facility workers. long-term care.
Others argue that while we are all grateful to essential workers, they don’t need economic help as much as people who are forced to close their businesses, quit their jobs, and stay home. Several other government assistance programs, such as the Paycheque Protection Program, are about to run out.
The federal CARES law has already suspended interest, payments and collections on student loans.
Meanwhile, some colleges and universities are already cutting costs for students. Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) recently announced a year of free tuition for incoming freshmen.
These articles are shared by The Granite State News Collaborative partners. For more information, visit collaborativenh.org.