Remarks: AFTPA Pres Arthur Steinberg Prepared Remarks at Student Loan Clinic 9-15-22 in Philadelphia

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Good afternoon! I’m Arthur Steinberg, President of AFT Pennsylvania, the state federation which represents 36,000 educators, paraprofessionals, public and private sector employees in 64 locals across Pennsylvania and Delaware, including PFT Local 3.

I am encouraged to see so many of you here on a Thursday evening, while we are still at the beginning of the school year, and I am sure you all had full days in school and family obligations on top of that. But with student loan debt a major topic in today’s news, and the deadline for Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness coming up October 31st, it’s important to make sure that you have all the information you need to get the student debt relief you need and qualify for.

So, AFT, our national union, is hosting a series of student debt clinics across the country in partnership with state feds and local unions.

I am excited and proud that this particular clinic is featuring some very important guests. I want to thank PFT President Jerry Jordan for partnering with us on this event and AFT President Randi Weingarten for being here in person. And I want to thank Carlo Simone and the Steelworkers Local 286 for hosting us in their space.

But I especially want to welcome U.S. Secretary Miguel Cardona, who has been a champion for educators and students across the nation and who has been to Pennsylvania quite a few times during the first two years of the Biden Administration.

And I want to welcome the Second Gentleman of the United States, Doug Emhoff. As the spouse to the first woman Vice President, he’s been working hard to spread the word to the American people about all of the great achievements the Biden-Harris administration have been racking up, especially over the last few months. We’re grateful and excited to have you both here.

Unfortunately, Pennsylvania ranks among the highest for student loan debt. Sixty-four percent of Pennsylvania college graduates had student loan debt in the ’19-’20 school year.

That’s why AFT is paying particular attention to locals in Pennsylvania. Just this week, there was a virtual clinic for Southwestern PA members. And later this month, there will be additional clinics in Plymouth Meeting and Scranton.

You’ve heard incredible stories from two AFT Pennsylvania members who have successfully navigated the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and have had incredible amounts of student debt rightfully forgiven. I’m proud to have heard the stories of Heather Levi, from the Temple Association of University Professionals (TAUP) and Trina Dean, a Vice President at-Large for AFT Pennsylvania.

I’m glad to welcome Chris Goff, Assistant Director of AFT’s Higher Education Department, who will be presenting this evening’s clinic. Chris will be covering how to qualify and apply for the expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness program before the October 31st deadline; they’ll cover what President Biden’s recent announcement on student loan forgiveness means for you and your loans; and they’ll help you navigate your student loans and apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Now, it’s my pleasure to introduce someone who has been on the front lines of fighting for student loan forgiveness for as long as I can remember. She was instrumental in the Biden Administration’s push to forgive student loans and is working to make sure all those who qualify get the relief they deserve. Randi has been a great friend to AFT Pennsylvania and the PFT for many years and spends almost as much time here as she does in her home state of New York. She has my sincere thanks for directing so many of AFT’s resources to Pennsylvania.

Let’s extend a warm welcome to my friend, our national President, Randi Weingarten.