• Darci Griffith Gamerl

Student Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Reform Is A Must

Student Loans are back in forbearance due to the pandemic, but there are larger issues that must be resolved before those most in need of loan forgiveness can be recognized for their contributions to their communities and society as a whole. At this time, loans are slated to go into repayment as of May 2022. Currently, there are a number of criteria that must be met in order to qualify for PSLF.

Musicians pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for their education. Unfortunately for many musicians, the paycheck does not match what they have invested in their education. In my case, I have three tenured positions with regional orchestras, teach at two universities, and work with a number of nonprofit organizations throughout the Midwest on a freelance basis, but according the above criteria, I don't qualify for PSLF.

Regional orchestra jobs are part-time at best, and generally without any benefits. Jobs that beef up your resumè, but don't allow one to make a living wage. As a result, many musicians leave the field to do something else entirely. If you want to hire someone with an unbelievable work ethic and attention to detail - hire a musician! If one has the tenacity to hold on, a substandard living wage without benefits is usually paired with yet another part-time gig throwing lattes in order to have some sort of medical coverage.

The student loan forgiveness program and the Department of Education has dropped the ball. There are claims of reforms being made, but they still fail to recognize gig work as a cumulative whole. With over twenty years of experience working throughout the Midwest for a large number of non-profits, my hours invested in the community more than cover any outstanding student loan debt.

The current situation is absolutely abysmal for so many borrowers, and qualifies as negligence on the part of the U.S. Department of Education. Reform is needed on a case-by-case basis, and the Dept. of Education must recognize the complexity of the situations for musicians. Freelancers and creatives require their support and recognition more than ever - certainly more than the people that have full-time jobs.

Am I right? Thanks for listening!

For more information or to apply for a limited public service loan forgiveness waiver due to the pandemic - go here.

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