AFT President Randi Weingarten Says SCOTUS Decision on Navient Case Is Huge Win
WASHINGTON—Today, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up two cases challenging the 2020 landmark settlement between AFT members and Navient, a student loan servicing company. The settlement, which can now move forward, will help teachers, nurses, first responders and other public employees struggling with student loan debt.
Ten AFT members working in public education, nursing and other public service fields brought the original federal suit in October 2018, challenging Navient’s practices in its handling of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), arguing the company was denying borrowers accurate information that ultimately precluded them getting the forgiveness to which they were entitled. The original settlement required the company to enhance the information it gives borrowers inquiring about the program, ensuring company agents are trained to recognize borrower eligibility for PSLF and to ask probing questions to make sure more borrowers can access this crucial debt relief program.
Today’s decision clears the path to finally implementing other key aspects of the settlement that will help tens of thousands of teachers, nurses and first responders access loan forgiveness, by requiring Navient to pay $2.25 million to an organization that provides student loan counseling and education to public service workers.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who leads the union representing the borrowers who filed the initial class action, hailed the decision as a huge win:
“Our union has been fighting to get relief for student loan borrowers for over a decade. While the right wing continues to mount senseless challenges, we are working with the Biden administration to alleviate the strain student debt has on our economy and on the lives and families of our public service workers. Today’s Supreme Court decision clears the field for public employees, many of whom incurred debt to train for some of the most important jobs in our communities: educating students, caring for patients and keeping the public safe. Too many of these borrowers are still struggling to make ends meet because of crushing student debt, and their precarity and risk of debt delinquency have been severely worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision not only will give them hope, it also will give them more tools to help manage their remaining debt, providing access to an organization specifically chartered to provide public service employees crucial information about loan forgiveness programs mandated by federal law. The ruling to let this historic settlement stand will help ensure future generations can pursue careers in public service, and trust that the promise of PSLF will be a promise kept.”
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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.