New Bill Could Forgive Student Loans for Healthcare Workers on COVID-19 Frontlines

Women surprised, holding a book in her hands.

The CARES act is supporting those who lost their jobs, are furloughed, or had their hours decreased. But what is being done for those that are working overtime, without hazard pay on the front lines? If you’re like most, saving lives is in your blood and you got into healthcare to do it. When you have to stay in hotels and take other extreme precautions to keep your family safe, the scope of work has changed. One way the government wants to step up to show their appreciation is by eradicating student loans. The new bill could forgive student loans for healthcare workers on COVID-19 frontlines. 

The Opportunities for Heroes Act was proposed by Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) last week to provide $25,000 in student loan debt relief or tuition assistance to frontline workers. The bill outlines criteria for who would qualify and what would be provided (if it becomes law)

“Essential workers risk their health and well-being every day to keep our society functioning during this unprecedented pandemic,” Rep. Kuster said in a statement. “We owe these heroes a debt of gratitude. This legislation will honor their service by allowing essential workers to pay off student debt and have the opportunity—should they want it—to further their education or learn new skills once the crisis has subsided.”

What if I Already Paid My Student Loans?

If you do not wish to use your education credit or do not need the credit, you will have the option to transfer it to a family member, such as your child. By eliminating student loan debt for essential workers, the main goal of the bill is to provide frontline workers with some financial freedom and stability. The proposing government bodies are hoping the saved money is used to buy homes, make investments, or save for retirement.

How Do You Qualify? 

In the bill, the term “essential worker” is defined as an individual who was employed in essential employment and who worked at least 480 hours in a 120-day period during the COVID-19 crisis. Essential workers who couldn’t work at least 480 hours due to a case of COVID-19 or due to caring for a family member with COVID-19 would also be eligible.

Do you Have to Be a Registered Nurse or Doctor?

The answer is a surprising yet exciting no. If you’re working nearly any essential job and you’ve worked the hours above you might be eligible. The bill defines an “essential worker” as the following:

  • People who work in grocery stores
  • People who work in Pharmacies and convenience stores
  • Health care workers
  • Health manufacturing workers
  • Those employed in cafeterias that serve food to essential workers
  • Those who provide childcare for families of essential workers
  • Security and sanitation workers in locations where essential workers are employed
  • Transportation workers
  • and more.

You can find the full list of “essential workers”  here.  

How Can I Follow if It Goes Into Place?

Set your Google alerts. You can learn more about how to set a Google alert here. Google Alerts are the best way to stay on top of trends since there’s no way to know when this will be approved. Additionally, there are countless other proposals to thank frontline workers including the following:

Are There Other Similar Proposed Bills?

Yes, there are countless bills that are currently on the table to forgive student loans for healthcare workers and other frontline workers during COVID. For an updated list, visit this recent article by Forbes

Additional Free Stuff

If you’re like most people, you love free stuff for all your hard work and dedication to your job. If you are currently working on the front lines of COVID-19 you deserve way more than praise, how about some free stuff? Quite a few fantastic brands are stepping up and stepping in to show their appreciation. We’ve scoured the internet for the complete list of free stuff for frontline medical workers during COVID-19.  You can view the article here.

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About the author

Ashley Carty

Ashley Carty is a seasoned medical professional with over 8 years of experience working at the top hospitals in Southern California, including Hoag, Saddleback Memorial, and UCSD.

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