A measure to expand a student debt relief program intended to benefit public service workers to include more teachers and professors was signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul on Thursday.
The new law also aims to simplify the process of certifying employment through the US Department of Education on behalf of a group of workers so they can access the debt forgiveness program.
At the same time, Hochul also announced a statewide effort to promote the program, known as the Civil Service Loan Forgiveness Program, before it expires in late October.
Hochul, at a signing ceremony in New York, said she wants more people to apply for the loan forgiveness program before it expires on Oct. 31. The program applies to a variety of public sector workers, including healthcare workers, police, firefighters, teachers and other professions.
“These are the people we turned to in our darkest days — our darkest days in 100 years,” Hochul said. “Too many officials have been left dry.”
The bill signed by Hochul will expand the program to include teachers and professors who work 30 hours a week to be considered full-time employees.
The legislation comes as President Joe Biden decided last month to extinguish student debt for people who carry up to $20,000 and have qualifying income.
Hochul called debt relief efforts important because they can help people take the next step in their lives, such as starting a family or buying a house.
“Student debt doesn’t just delay your dreams, it can derail your life,” Hochul said.