Student loan debt is one of the primary issues affecting our members, who disproportionately hold tens of thousands in student debt that they accrued while receiving the education that healthcare professions require. Our average member holds close to $30,000 in debt, and many of our members owe into the hundreds of thousands.
This is why we are fighting so hard on this issue, and we have secured a massive victory for our Kaiser members to make student debt relief even more accessible to Kaiser staff! Leaders across our bargaining units, with the help of AFT and support of AFT president Randi Weingarten pushed Kaiser to certify employment for the purposes of Public Service loans Forgiveness for employees who at least work 30+ hours on average as "full-time." Many of our members who work less than the 40 hours a week that is labeled as "full time" were unable to claim the forgiveness afforded non-profit workers under the national student loan forgiveness program since 0.9 FTE and below were coded in the Kaiser system as part-time.
This is no longer the case, which dramatically increases the pool of our members who are eligible to earn student loan forgiveness. ALL of our members (not just KP) who have federal student loans should submit certification requests BEFORE Oct 31, 2022 to take advantage of the temporary waiver of some of the restrictions on access to the system. AFT has a great partnership to assist in the process and they make it a quick and easy process. If you've been in repayment status for 10 years with a qualifying employer (like KP and PH, and including the COVID payment pauses) your federal loans should be eligible for forgiveness!
This is one of the largest victories we have had this year and provides many of our members a pathway to free themselves from the constant burden of immense debt. We could only do it because our leaders came together both in OFNHP and from AFT's national federation and fought to make a change that could affect tens of thousands of workers. When we come together as a union and fight for changes, we have the power to build an entirely new world.