Since March 2022, AFT 1521 has hosted 48 Student Debt Clinics with over 700 members in attendance. During one-on-one follow-up sessions, we were finding more Adjunct Faculty that were experiencing challenges with their employment certification form for PSLF. Particularly, one eligible AFT 1521 Adjunct Faculty member who met the 30 hours using the AB 463 (Cervantes, 2019) multiplier (3.35 hours for each hour of lecture or classroom time). Our fellow Adjunct Faculty member who applied for PSLF back in March 2022, recently received a PSLF ineligibility notice. This was the first documented ineligible notice reported by an Adjunct Faculty member since we expanded our AFT 1521 member benefits to include Student Debt Clinics. The PSLF ineligible notice left our Adjunct Faculty member frustrated and confused because AFT 1521 Adjunct Faculty members were getting their student loans forgiven.
Even when Adjunct Faculty met and exceeded the 30 hours, using the AB 463 multiplier, LACCD Human Resources (HR) could not certify Adjunct Faculty as full-time. HR staff were required to mark the part-time box for these Adjunct Faculty members rather than the full-time box on the PSLF employment certification form, thus jeopardizing the ability for these PSLF eligible Adjunct Faculty with LACCD as their only qualifying employer, access to student loan forgiveness. Full-time faculty and Adjunct Faculty with multiple certification forms and employers were qualifying for PSLF and ultimately getting their loans forgiven. I immediately shared this inequity with our AFT 1521 Adjunct Faculty Action Committee (AFAC). Understanding the power of organizing, we decided to elevate our advocacy efforts to AFT national headquarters.
After months of mobilizing with AFT and most recent activism with CFT, I continued to work with LACCD Human Resources (HR) department. Senior HR Technician Mary VanGinkle, a tremendous supporter on applying the AB 463 multiplier for Adjunct Faculty, agreed to certify full-time employment, for the sole purposes of PSLF, for all eligible Adjunct Faculty through October 31, 2022. In addition, I was very pleased to know that Mary agreed to take this action a step further to retroactively re-certify employment for all eligible Adjunct Faculty who submitted a PSLF application since the Weingarten v. DeVos settlement and PSLF reform was announced back in October of 2021. This is huge lift for Mary and support staff at HR to ensure all eligible Adjunct Faculty who submitted a PSLF application since October 6, 2021, will still be able to take advantage of the temporary PSLF limited waiver and access PSLF to ultimately get their student loan debt forgiven. I was concerned that several hundred Adjunct Faculty would have to reapply. The collective action of our union resulted in this action. If AFT 1521 didn’t step in, Adjunct Faculty repayment counts would essentially start back at 0 of 120 payments (10 years) required to reach debt relief.
AFT shared that the state of Washington and New York enacted bill language that clarified for the purposes of PSLF only, 30 hours is full-time. In addition, AFT was successful in issuing a memorandum to Kaiser Permanente earlier this year surrounding the PSLF eligibility. Kaiser HR agreed to consider any employee who works 30 hours, as full-time for PSLF, regardless of their employment status. So, we have more work to do!
I want to thank our AFT1521 Adjunct Faculty Action Committee, Student Debt Clinic Trainers and our AFT 1521 Adjunct Faculty members who continued to persevere despite these bureaucratic hurdles. We were determined to not leave any Adjunct Faculty behind. This experience has furthered confirmed my confidence in our union and the power of organizing and mobilizing.
Have you already submitted your PSLF application? The PSLF limited waiver period expires on October 31, 2022. Even if you have fewer than 10 years of service, all faculty should apply now to make sure you are given credit for the service periods you worked before the waiver expires. AFT 1521 will be hosting nine Student Debt Clinics over the course of three weeks in October along with open Q&A sessions to help members navigate the PSLF process. Please sign up and select an AFT 1521 Student Debt Clinic: https://bit.ly/AFT1521SDC
If you are not a member, Join AFT 1521 Today! bit.ly/joinaft1521
Dr. Jessica Saint-Paul
Chair, Adjunct Faculty Action Committee