WILKES-BARRE — Many Americans will resume making student loan payments in October, so Attorney General Michelle Henry is offering tips for borrowers to protect themselves from scams when making those payments.
Scammers are always looking for new opportunities to catch consumers by surprise, so be wary of potential solicitation calls offering loan discharge, forgiveness, cancellation, or relief services for a fee.
The United States Department of Education and your federal student loan servicer will never charge you a fee for enrolling in any repayment plan.
“Scammers are sophisticated and aware of consumer trends, so there is reason to believe the return to student loan payments will result in an influx of attempted fraud, theft, and other criminal activity,” AG Henry said. “My office wants borrowers to know about reliable resources available to them at no charge or security risk.”
The Office of Attorney General encourages borrowers to be vigilant. Never answer your phone if you don’t recognize the number. If the caller is legitimate, they will leave a voicemail or send you a text message and/or email. If the voicemail, text or email seems suspicious, ignore it.
If you have questions about your student loans, that help is free through your loan servicer or the Department of Education. Your loan servicer may have changed during the payment pause, so if you do not know who your current loan servicer is, you may log onto your student loan account on www.studentaid.gov to find your current servicer.
Contact your servicer directly through their website or the toll free number listed on the servicer’s official website.
When discussing your loan, make sure you are working with the U.S. Department of Education, Federal Student Aid, and your loan servicer. Never reveal to anyone your personal information or account password unless you are certain you are talking to your servicer or the government.
Your student loan servicer can help you:
• Lower your student loan payment.
• Understand your repayment options.
• Provide you with information about consolidation.
• Determine if you are eligible for PSLF loan forgiveness or other programs.
Again, you should never pay for financial aid advice or for help enrolling in income driven repayment plans, or any forgiveness programs. All of these programs are free to enroll, provided that you qualify.
The Attorney General encourages everyone working in public service occupations (more than 25% of employed Pennsylvanians work in public service) to enroll in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program by visiting studentaid.gov/PSLF. In general, this program is available to government employees, military service members, non-profit employees, and many other occupations. If you enroll, you can earn forgiveness of your loans after 10 years of repayment while working for a qualifying employer.
The Attorney General also encourages student loan borrowers to enroll in the federal SAVE Plan. It is the new income driven repayment (IDR) plan, and could reduce your payments significantly even if you were previously enrolled in an IDR plan. You can enroll in the SAVE plan by contacting your servicer or visiting studentaid.gov/SAVE.
Consumers who feel they have been scammed by a student loan debt relief program may file a complaint with the Office of Attorney General online, by phone at 1-800-441-2555, or email at — [email protected].
Meuser bill encourages private capital
investment in rural/low-income areas
U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser, R-Dallas, this week introduced H.R. 5333 — the Investing in All of America Act of 2023 — which would increase capital available to small businesses, particularly those in rural or low-income areas, and those operating in the national security sector.
Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs) are privately owned companies that are licensed and regulated by the Small Business Administration (SBA). SBICs raise private capital that is then matched with leverage by the SBA.
SBICs then deploy their private funds, along with the SBA-guaranteed funding, to invest directly in small businesses.
The SBIC program operates at a zero-subsidy cost to the American taxpayer. In other words, taxpayer funds are not utilized to support credit extended in SBIC investments.
Though the SBIC Program has been successful in responsibly deploying capital to small businesses, recent studies have shown that less than 20% of SBIC investment reaches low-middle income communities — Meuser’s Investing in All of America Act seeks to encourage the deployment of more capital in these areas.
To incentivize the deployment of additional capital to under-served communities, this legislation would not count dollars invested in rural and/or low-income areas or in the national security technologies sector against SBIC’s leverage cap, allowing much needed additional capital to flow into these areas.
“Access to capital is often cited by small businesses as among their greatest challenges, particularly those in rural or low-income areas,” Meuser said. “By providing bonus leverage within the SBIC Program for investments in rural and low-income areas, we will help drive greater investments into these often under-served communities. This bill will not only benefit entrepreneurs, but it will also benefit the economy as a whole in eastern central Pennsylvania and in similar regions throughout the United States.”
The legislation is endorsed by the Small Business Investor Alliance, and the organization’s president, Brett Palmer, noted, “This is smart policy that will help small businesses in under-served parts of the country access growth capital.”
Pennsylvania ranked as one
of the top employers in state
Gov. Josh Shapiro this week announced that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was ranked among the top employers in PA by workers in a new survey conducted by Forbes Magazine and Statista.
The Commonwealth was one of only four government entities to make the list of 97 Pennsylvania employers.
“My Administration has made clear from day one that we are expanding opportunities to those who want a career in public service — whether they are a recent college graduate or have years of relevant experience outside of the classroom,” Shapiro said. “We’re emphasizing skills and experience in hiring for government jobs and state troopers, investing in mental health resources for our employees and their families, and expanding internship and apprenticeship programs to bring more people into state government to create new pipelines for talent.”
In order to help employees perform at their best each day, the Commonwealth offers competitive pay, benefits, work-life balance, diverse and inclusive workplaces, and opportunities for advancement.
For example, the Commonwealth recognizes the importance of mental health and wellness for employees and their families and recently increased the number of counseling sessions available to them at no cost through their benefits.
In another recent survey by Forbes and Statista, the Pennsylvania was ranked nationally as a top employer by recent college graduates. These results are consistent with research showing that many younger workers prioritize working for an employer that has a positive impact on the world.
Pa. School Bus Assoc. reminds drivers
that school is open; watch for students
Over the past 2 weeks, roads have been a little busier with students heading back to school.
This school year, more than 1.7 million children will be returning to the classroom. The Pennsylvania School Bus Association is asking motorists to please pay extra attention as school buses ride their daily routes and obey all traffic laws when approaching or overtaking a school bus.
“Traffic laws relating to school buses are not just rules on paper; they are lifelines that ensure the safety of our children as they travel to and from school,” said Shawn McGlinchey, PSBA President. “We ask all members of our community — parents, guardians, drivers, and pedestrians — to recognize the significance of their role in upholding the safety of our schoolchildren. By prioritizing our school bus traffic laws, we are demonstrating our unwavering commitment to protecting the future of our community.”
McGlinchey said according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely if they take a school bus instead of traveling by car, bike or foot. In addition, school buses keep over 17 million cars off the road each year.
“While it is illegal in all 50 States to pass a stopped school bus with its red lights flashing and stop-arm extended, 51 children lost their lives to this illegal activity and many others have been injured,” McGlinchey said.
The Pennsylvania School Bus Association was founded in 1980 and consists of roughly 300 school bus contractors and industry partners who have come together to be a strong voice for school bus safety and the school bus contracting industry.
For more information, contact Gerry Wosewick, Executive Director, at 717-975-1951, ext. 500 or email at — [email protected].
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.