5 More Years
Governor Proposes Extending Social Worker Loan Forgiveness
The Social Worker Loan Forgiveness Program, which in 2006 became law in response to extensive NASW-NYC advocacy, was due to expire in June, 2011. The good news is that Governor Cuomo has included a continuation of the law for another five years in his executive budget. If the state legislature passes the Governor’s item, social workers in New York State can look forward to additional opportunities and have their loans forgiven.
In 2004, prompted by social workers describing the strain of their debt load, NASW started a lobbying campaign to create the loan forgiveness program. NASW-NYC formed a coalition with the NY State NASW Chapter and the labor union, 1199/SEIU and, most importantly, mobilized members to contact their state legislators.
In 2006, the New York State Legislature voted to establish the program and authorized it for $1million. NY State licensed social workers who have worked for at least one year in a critical shortage area are eligible for the program. Critical shortage areas include health, mental health, substance abuse, aging, HIV/AIDS, child welfare, and multi-lingual communities.
Over a five-year period, nearly 4.3 million dollars provided debt relief for 285 licensed social workers throughout New York State through the dispensing of 702 awards. There were 21 times as many applicants as there were awardees, making the NYS Licensed Social Worker Loan Forgiveness Program the most sought-after loan forgiveness program administered by the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC.)
Criteria for applying for the program and how to obtain applications can be found on the NASW website, www.naswnyc.org. Stay tuned in to follow the progress of the program through the legislative process.