The problem is well-documented and alarming: College students who graduated in 2015 were the most indebted in U.S. history, and student borrowing for higher education continues to rise. Despite those facts, for many young people, the benefits of pursuing a degree outweigh the cost. College graduates fare better than their high school–educated peers, and the difference in their earnings is more pronounced than it was for their parents. College has intangible benefits, too; workers with a four-year degree are more likely to be satisfied with their careers than those who begin working immediately after high school.
While earning a four-year college degree is a wise decision in the long term, student loan payments can be daunting, especially for recent graduates who are still searching for a good job and building a financial foundation. New York State’s Get On Your Feet Loan Forgiveness Program, which is now accepting applications, can help ease that early financial stress.
Students who graduated both high school and college in New York State and received an undergraduate degree in or after the 2014-15 academic year and have lived in the state for 12 continuous months may be eligible to have up to two years of federal student loan payments forgiven. To be considered for the program, applicants also have to be enrolled in either an income-based or pay-as-you-earn repayment program and have an adjusted gross income of less than $50,000.
The Get On Your Feet Loan Forgiveness Program goes hand in hand with other efforts to reduce the burden of student debt for young people. For example, the New York State Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Incentive Program offers full-tuition scholarships to students who study in certain STEM fields at SUNY or CUNY schools and work in the state after graduation. But while the STEM Incentive Program targets new college students, the Get On Your Feet program provides assistance for recent graduates, regardless of major.
What’s good for our students is also good for our state. Like the STEM Incentive Program, the Get On Your Feet initiative requires its beneficiaries to stay in New York State and contribute their newly learned skills to the workforce as soon as they find jobs.
Applications for the Get On Your Feet program are now being accepted; visit www.hesc.ny.gov or call 1-888-697-4372 to learn more.