(NEXSTAR) — Several thousand borrowers will have their student debt canceled as part of newly announced actions by the Department of Education to “fix longstanding failures in the student loan programs.” An additional 3.6 million borrowers will be receiving credit toward having their loans forgiven.
The Department of Education announced the move Tuesday, saying the steps being taken are intended to bring borrowers closer to public service loan and income-driven repayment forgiveness.
Estimates from Federal Student Aid (FSA) expect at least 40,000 borrowers will see “immediate debt cancellation” as they now qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) under the new changes. Borrowers working as public servants are eligible for forgiveness under PSLF once they’ve made 10 years of qualifying payments.
Thousands of other borrowers with older loans will also receive forgiveness through income-driven repayment, according to the Department of Education. Another 3.6 million will receive at least three years of additional credit toward income-driven repayment (IDR) forgiveness.
“Student loans were never meant to be a life sentence, but it’s certainly felt that way for borrowers locked out of debt relief they’re eligible for,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a release. “Today, the Department of Education will begin to remedy years of administrative failures that effectively denied the promise of loan forgiveness to certain borrowers enrolled in IDR plans. These actions once again demonstrate the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to delivering meaningful debt relief and ensuring federal student loan programs are administered fairly and effectively.”
The Education Department said it will also be tackling “forbearance steering.” In some cases, the FSA found borrowers were placed in forbearance – meaning they didn’t have to make a payment, or were able to make a smaller payment temporarily but are unable to get any closer to forgiveness or repaying the loan – when an IDR could have been more beneficial.
Now, the department will count forbearances of more than 12 consecutive months and more than 36 months total toward loan forgiveness, either under IDR or PSLF. This is a one-time action and borrowers who were sent into forbearance can file a complaint with the FSA here. Moving forward, student loan servicers will be restricted in their ability to put borrowers into forbearance, the Education Department added.
After flaws believed to be causing borrowers to miss out on progress toward IDR forgiveness were found, the FSA will also be reviewing the payment-tracking procedures. According to Tuesday’s release, Cardona has directed the FSA to provide one-time revisions of payments to address past inaccuracies and amend the payment counting for IDR payment plans.
While the department intends these changes to take effect immediately, adjustments are dependent on an upgrade to the National Student Loan Data System, NPR reports. Because of this, loan cancellations won’t begin until fall.
WHAT ABOUT WIDESPREAD STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS?
Earlier this month, President Biden not only delayed student loan payments for another few months, but gave some borrowers a bit of “forgiveness.” Millions of borrowers will have their delinquent or default status erased, allowing them to “reenter repayment in good standing,” the Education Department explained in a release.
Before Biden announced the fourth freeze on student loans, though, 96 lawmakers – 21 Senators and 75 members of the House – called on him to “cancel student debt now,” saying it would “provide long-term benefits to individuals and the economy, helping families buy their first homes, open a small business, or invest in their retirement. More broadly, canceling student debt would add tens of billions of dollars in GDP growth.”
During his campaign, Biden supported forgiving at least $10,000 in federal student loans per person but didn’t mention any cancellation in his statement on the latest pause.
There is, however, confusion regarding Biden’s power to cancel student loans. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said he lacks legal authority, instead commenting “That would be an act of Congress.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, on the other hand, has argued Biden could do it under the same legal provision Trump used to delay payments and interest accrual at the start of the pandemic, The Hill reports.
Earlier this month, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden canceling some federal student loan debt remains on the table. He could even decide in the coming months, according to The Hill.
Original Source: woodtv.com
New GR Pharmacy to Serve Spanish-speaking Patients
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — By the end of the year, Grand Rapids’ Roosevelt Park neighborhood will have a new pharmacy.
Trinity Health Clinica Santa Maria began construction Monday morning on the $1.5 million project. The new pharmacy will include both walk-up and drive-thru services.
Trinity Health Clinica Santa Maria practice leader Kameron Selleck it will offer convenience in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a pharmacy close in proximity, making it challenging for patients to get their prescriptions in a timely manner.
“A lot of our patients do encounter a lot of social barriers in their lives,” Selleck said.
He added that a language barrier can make it difficult patients to get their prescriptions. He said nearly every employee at Clinica Santa Maria is bilingual in Spanish and the plan is for that trend to carry over to new pharmacy and pharmacy tech hires.
“I think this project was announced almost five years ago, so it’s here,” Selleck said. “I just really encourage the community to be as excited as we are.
The pharmacy is at 730 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. SW (formerly Grandville Avenue) at Martin Luther King Jr. Street (formerly Franklin Street) in Grand Rapids. It will be the seventh Trinity Health pharmacy in the Grand Rapids area, with the other locations being Cathedral Square, the Wege Building at Trinity Heath Saint Mary’s, Hudsonville, Rockford, Byron Center and Southeast Grand Rapids.
Original Post: woodtv.com
Tulip Time Crowds Encouraging for Returning Festivals
HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Tulip Time saw big crowds this year as it returned to a more regular schedule.
The event was cancelled in 2020 and scaled back last year because of the pandemic.
The heat caused challenges for the 2022 festival. The Tulip Immersion Garden, a new attraction, had to close early because the hot temperatures caused too much damage to the flowers, Tulip Time Executive Director Gwen Auwerda said.
“They don’t like 80 degree, 90 degree weather. Tulips prefer it to be about 40 at night, 60 to 70, maybe 80 during the day,” Auwerda said.
The organization is working on final numbers but saw attendance return to pre-pandemic levels.
“I do know that the carnival exceeded 2019 by 25 to 30%, so that was fabulous for them and it was packed everywhere in town,” Auwerda said.
Kevin Knight, the owner of Market Zero, said the festival definitely provided a boost as they worked to keep up with demand.
“It’s a huge kick off to your summer season,” Knight said. “Our fridges were completely full and got completely empty and completely full and completely empty, so it was about everything we could handle.”
Market Zero in downtown Holland on May 16, 2022. Inside Market Zero in downtown Holland on May 16, 2022.
The return of crowds could be good sign for other events coming back this summer, like the Festival of the Arts in Grand Rapids. Mark Azkoul, an organizer for the event that began in 1970, sees the success of Tulip Time as encouraging.
“We’ve been out for two years so this is a big thing for us and for the city to get Festival back up and going,” Azkoul said.
Organizers created the Plein Air event for 2021, which combined outdoor art and music.
The 2022 event runs June 3 through June 5. After taking a break because of the pandemic the festival needs extra help.
“A lot of people still don’t know yet festival is coming back, so we really want to get the word out. We need more volunteers,” Azkoul said.
People interested in volunteering can sign up on the Festival of the Arts website.
Mom Does ‘small Part’ to Help Parents Who Need Formula
HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Though there appears to an end of the baby formula shortage in sight, it’s still causing problems for parents, so a mother in Holland did what she could to help.
Abbott Nutrition has announced its entered into an agreement with the federal Food and Drug Administration to restart its Sturgis plant within two weeks. The closure of that plant has been a huge contributing factor to the shortage. The company expects its products to ship to stores eight weeks after production resumes.
But for now, many parents can’t find the formula they need. The low supply has some stores limiting the number of formulas customers can purchase, adding that they are in “extraordinary high” demand.
The baby formula shelves at a Meijer in Holland.
So Caitlin Dampier, a mother of two whose youngest is a 3-month-old girl, stepped up to help where she could.
“I really wish I could help out more, but this is just my small part,” Dampier said.
She got a box of Enfamil formulas that she’s not using because she’s breastfeeding.
“When you’re pregnant, you get free samples and so I thought I would just offer mine for free for mothers who need them,” Dampier said. “I kept it around in case I wasn’t able to breastfeed.”
Dampier made a post on Facebook this week directed at parents who can’t find formula. The box she received included three cans of Enfamil formulas and two ready-made formulas.
Two mothers reached out to her, including Kourtney Hann, another Holland resident. She’s one of thousands of mothers across the country who have had to go to great lengths to find food for their baby.
“I have had to go to stores maybe 45 minutes away just to even try to get formula,” she said. “It’s very hard to find them where I’m at right now. I went to Walmart yesterday and all they had was Similac and my daughter has a really bad reaction to Similac.”
Hann was able to connect with Dampier and picked up a can of Enfamil. Dampier left the box on her front porch with the message, “Please take only the formula you chose and tear out some coupons for yourself. My prayers are with you during this difficult time.”
The box of Enfamil products Caitlin Dampier left at her door for mothers to pick up.
Hann said she was down to her last can of baby formula which lasts her about five days. Now that she has received another can from Dampier, she’ll be able to feed her 9-month-old for the next two weeks.
“Being a mom is hard enough as it is. You have so many other struggles and to be afraid to know if you’re going to be able to feed your baby or not is a struggle,” Dampier said. “You want to do everything for your kids so when you’re not able to it’s hard. It’s just the worst feeling in the world.”
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