Funding Loan Forgiveness Provisions in the Higher Education Act A Great Need for Today’s Social Workers
Social Workers play a vital role in impacting individual’s lives for the better. They devote their lives to service; they help others in need and address social problems while advancing social justice. Social workers face many issues such as poverty, unemployment, discrimination and other forms of social injustice. They promote the dignity and worth of the person and seek to broaden their clients’ and society’s interests in a socially responsible manner. Social workers teach the importance of human relationships and spend there lives engaging people as partners in the helping process as well as convey the importance of relationships as a vehicle for change while keeping their integrity, trustworthiness, honesty and responsibility while maintaining their competence. Social Workers also increase their personal knowledge and contribute to the knowledge of others. Because of all that social workers do, they should be compensated for their hard work. Unfortunately, the money and benefits that a social worker earns is not nearly as comparable to all of the time and energy that he/she invests in thei4r work. Therefore, the National Association of Social Workers is promoting loan forgiveness from the Higher Education Act for social workers as part of its on-going work to improve working conditions, salaries, and other benefits for members of the profession and to ensure that consumers have access to qualified professionals. When discussing the loan forgiveness program, there are some questions to consider:
What is the Higher Education Act and why is it important for Social Workers? 2.
What is the position of the NASW on Financing Higher Education? 3.
What are the strategies used by the NASW to advocate and engage the public in policies? What is the Higher Education Act and why is it important for Social Workers? On August 14, 2008, President Bush signed P.L. 110-315 into law. The Higher Education Act (HEA) included loan forgiveness for national need occupations including social work. HEA stated that Social Workers who are employed by a public or private child welfare agency, should have part of his or her college loans forgiven $10,00 for up to five years. Unfortunately, congress needed the appropriate funding in order for the program to operate (NASW IL, 2009). Loan repayment is challenging for social workers especially because their salaries continue to be among the lowest for professionals in general. Those with master's level educations suffer the most. In 2001, 22 percent of social workers earned under $30,000 and 20 percent earned between $30,000 and $39,999. The median salary for social workers with two to four years experience was $35,600. Even though The Higher Education Act did pass, this program must be funded so that social workers and other professionals in public service can get relief from their student debt (Loan Forgiveness Homepage, 2009). What is the position of the NASW on Financing Higher Education? Every year the NASW speaks to congress about a broad range of issues that affect the quality of life for people both nationally and internationally. They also address the ability of professional social workers to provide quality services and ensure that the role of professional social workers and social work research is acknowledged, protected, and supported in federal legislation. One focus of the current legislative advocacy agenda was on the importance of financing higher education. The NASW was for supporting and advocating legislation that will provide funding for training, tuition assistance and loan forgiveness for social workers They also ensured that Congress fully funds the loan forgiveness provisions in the recently passed Higher Education Act (P.L. 110-315), which...
References: Haynes, K.S., and Mickelson, J.S. (2006). Affecting Change: Social Workers In The Political
National Association of Social Workers. (9, June 2009). Legislative Agenda for The 111th
Congress January 2009 – December 2010
National Association of Social Workers. (9, June 2009). Loan Forgiveness Homepage.
Social Work Advocacy Day: Wednesday, February 25, 2009. Chicago, IL
National Association of Social Workers Illinois Web Blog. (9, June 2009). Overtime Session
Once Again, 2009 NASW IL Statewide Conference
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