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The Nonprofit Student Debt Project is a CalNonprofits initiative to educate nonprofit staff and employers, advocate for public policy changes, and engage our community on the problem of student debt and its impact on the nonprofit workforce — and what we can do about it.

At the national level, we are focused on advocacy to improve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF) so it can benefit more nonprofit workers with student debt. Through PSLF, after a nonprofit employee makes 120 payments on a qualified repayment plan, they can qualify for loan forgiveness. 

Beginning in October 2021, and for a limited time, borrowers may receive credit for past periods of repayment on loans that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF.

This and other changes are explored in "Accessing Public Service Loan Forgiveness," a webinar we held in partnership with the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) and the U.S. Department of Education. The slide deck from the webinar is here. You can also download the Student Debt Toolkit for Nonprofits here.

Savi Logo PrimaryWe're excited that CalNonprofits members now have access to our new partner Savi, an online platform that helps employees navigate the complexities of repayment and loan forgiveness options. Both free and premium plans are now available to all our members – both individuals with student loans and nonprofit employers who would like to offer this helpful resource as a benefit to their staff who need it. Get more details here

Everyone has heard about the student debt crisis – more than 46 million people owe more than $1.7 trillion in student debt, as of August 2019, and the numbers are only growing. In California, the average debt for an individual graduating from a four-year institution is $22,785. Learn more about the scope of the student debt crisis on the Chamber of Commerce's Student Debt Statistics website. We estimate that more than 160,000 nonprofit staff have student debt. A 2016 survey conducted by CalNonprofits confirmed that student debt is hurting recruitment, retention and diversity in the nonprofit workforce.

We encourage nonprofit leaders and staff to learn about the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and make sure they are - and remain - eligible for forgiveness.


Nonprofit employees:
Options for Public Service Loan Forgiveness

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WEBINAR: Need to understand how the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program works? Watch our in-depth webinar where we explain the eligibility requirements and how this program can help nonprofit (and public sector) employees with their student debt. How Nonprofit Staff Can Get Student Debt Forgiveness

Read our recent articles about student debt and what we're doing about it in the Stanford Social Innovation Review and the Nonprofit Quarterly, Part 1 and Part 2.

CalNonprofits also supports improvements to state policies governing student debt and supported these California bills in 2020 and 2021:

AB 376 (Stone, 2020) established the Student Borrower Bill of Rights, which created a state student loan ombudsman to track borrower complaints and set up additional protections for borrowers.

AB 424 (Stone, 2021), established measures to protect student loan borrowers with private loans.

For more on these and other legislation that impacts California nonprofits please visit our Legislation Tracker.

More resources:

PSLF Temporary Waiver Factsheet - PSLF Coalition

Student Loan Bill of Right - CA Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI)

RECORDING: Accessing Public Service Loan Forgiveness Webinar

youtube iconLearn more about the PSLF program (and waiver) and how it can help you get your student loan forgiven via this recording of a live webinar we held in February. You’ll get the inside scoop from representatives of the U.S. Department of Education, the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) and the first-ever Student Loan Ombudsperson at the CA Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI). The slide deck from the webinar is here.

What is the impact of student debt on the nonprofit workforce? CalNonprofits conducted this survey to find out!
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Nonprofit Student Debt Project Leadership Council

Linda Akutagawa, LEAP 
Fred Blackwell, San Francisco Foundation 
Janet Camarena, Foundation Center 
Cynthia Chavez, LeaderSpring 
Karen Coppock, TechSoup Global 
Robert Egger, LA Kitchen
Sofia Klatzker, Arts4LA
Paul Vandeventer, Community Partners 

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What is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program?

The federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program can help the nonprofit sector address the student debt crisis, but not enough people know about it.

  • Find out more here.

Student Debt Webinars

Are you a nonprofit employee with student debt?  Want to learn more about how the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program can help?  Check out our new webinar on this topic: PSLF for Nonprofit Employees. All webinars and recordings are free to Members, including Student Members. Learn more about Membership here.

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