Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) submitted a bill Thursday that would be largely advantageous for a segment of college faculty members normally neglected when it comes to work benefits. The legislation would potentially wipe away thousands of dollars in student loan debt for adjunct professors.
Durbin used an example from his home state of Illinois to support his proposal, saying that more than half of all faculty working at public and on-profit colleges and universities in Illinois work on a part-time basis. These professors are deemed ineligible for the federal student loan forgiveness program since they are not full-time employees.
“As their budgets have tightened, colleges and universities have become increasingly reliant upon part-time adjunct faculty who face low pay, few if any benefits, and minimal job security,” said Durbin. “The vast majority of these educators hold advanced degrees, and as a result, bear the heavy burden of student loan debt. It is only right that we expand their access to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, a benefit already available to many of their full-time colleagues.”
His idea is one many adjunct faculty would find appealing, especially given the fact that, on average, adjuncts earn $25,000 annually – and that’s without benefits.
Durbin’s bill would open up the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to adjuncts, a program that would allow borrowers to qualify for forgiveness for the remaining balance of their Direct Loans after they’ve made 120 on-time, full, scheduled monthly payments on those loans while working in government service or in the non-profit sector, like at a university.
Marga Ryersbach, an adjunct professor teaching in New York, expressed her support of Durbin’s work in a statement released by Adjunct Action.
As a part-time, temporary worker with a crushing amount of school debt, I know how important student debt reform is for ensuring education retains the promise of social mobility for both me and my fellow adjuncts and the students we teach. I’m pleased that Senator Durbin is working to make sure we have access to a program that helps correct the imbalances wrought by huge amounts of education debt.