“I joined the army to escape poverty. This is another kind of poverty.”


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  • Jeffrey Spencer, 62, believed that serving in the army would give him free education through the GI bill.

  • But Congress did not update the bill. He is currently in debt of $ 104,000 and works for a public service in California.

  • Spencer is tired of breaking his promise after being denied permission for a loan many times.

When Jeffrey Spencer joined the army at the age of 17 in 1976, he thought the GI bill would allow him free education. But when his service ended eight years later, Congress abolished the version of the bill and he got stuck in paying his degree-something he didn’t intend to do after serving his country. ..

Currently, at the age of 62, Spencer works as a land use planner at the California Department of Transportation. He has worked in the public sector for 40 years, but has been unable to qualify for the Federal Public Service Loan Licensing (PSLF) program and is struggling to repay his $ 104,000 debt.

“I served my country as asked, and you can’t even give me the college you promised,” Spencer told insiders. “And if I had a GI bill, I wouldn’t have these student loans, but now I’m facing all this debt. What a slap.”

Jeff Spencer

The 62-year-old Jeffrey Spencer has a student debt of $ 104,000. Jeff Spencer

Spencer took 12 years to earn an associate degree in business administration and business administration in 1999, as he worked full-time and could only take night classes while raising his family. He also took a break to fight for his rights under the GI bill.

PSLF was created in 2007 to exempt students from debt after a civil servant (such as a teacher’s civil servant) has made a qualified monthly payment for 10 years. Spencer applied immediately in the hope that his payment would count towards final forgiveness-and was immediately rejected.

He then applied under President Barack Obama and was rejected again.

The refusal came because his student loan company had previously advised him to consolidate his loan Family Federal Education Loan (FFEL) Program, Privately funded and not eligible for PSLF. Spencer was unaware of this.

“I’m not an uneducated person here,” Spencer said. “But when they refinanced my loan, they didn’t tell me they were converting it to an unqualified one, it’s a shell game for me, and that’s what this country is like That’s why we’re facing a student debt epidemic.

“All these promises are constantly being broken.”

Spencer says he now earns a decent salary, but when the pandemic began, he postponed loan payments in addition to supporting his two children and his wife, who were caring for their 92-year-old mother. I had to do it. However, his postponement period ended in December, and his only hope now is the recent reform of PSLF.

Last month, Ministry of Education Presentation An overhaul of a program that implements a temporary exemption will allow all forms of past payments to be covered by PSLF. Spencer is in the process of reintegrating the loan to be eligible for the exemption, but if not approved, is considering paying $ 650 per month when the federal payment suspension resumes in February.

“I don’t really have much hope because they are always weasels somehow, and I’m not qualified for this reason or for that reason,” Spencer said. “All promises continue to be broken and we are still holding our bags.”

Jeffrey Spencer Army Headshot

Jeffrey Spencer: Army Headshot Jeffrey Spencer

FFEL loans like Spencer are not eligible for federal loan exemptions, but the department’s PSLF reforms are giving those borrowers another shot to count their loans.PSLF is even for borrowers who need to qualify 98% rejection rate Since 2017, thousands of civil servants have been disappointed and in debt. This overhaul aims to change that.

A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), which manages PSLF, introduced the insider in a letter from Federal Student Assistance Officer Richard Cordray dealing with the turmoil facing the borrower. Complex changes of this magnitude are difficult to process and implement. “

“But we’re going to make a change, and I swear to you today,” Cordray said. “We will move forward, so please be patient.”

Still, Spencer believes he shouldn’t have had to jump over the hoop to seek forgiveness for the loan in the first place. He simply asks Congress to fulfill what he promised: forgiveness of student loans for serving more than a decade in public service.

“There is no way to go,” Spencer said. “I joined the army to escape poverty, and now this is another kind of poverty. It has a certain weight on your shoulders. If this is the way you treat them, how Can you encourage people to serve the masses? “

Is there a story to share about student debt? Contact Ayelet Sheffey at [email protected]

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