It is an honor to join you here, at BMCC, to celebrate the signing of a bill that will help many PSC-CUNY members past, present, and future.
On behalf of all 30,000 members of the PSC, thank you, Governor Hochul, for recognizing the contributions that adjunct faculty make to the higher education workforce and for prioritizing higher education workers in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. In your first State of the State address in January, we heard a new commitment to public higher education. Today, many adjunct faculty who were carved out of public service loan forgiveness will now qualify.
I also thank Senator Kevin Thomas and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein for sponsoring the bill and Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Heastie, their leadership teams, and all the legislators who supported it. t
And thank you to our state-wide affiliate NYSUT, and to the amazing PSC members who advocated for this legislation.
CUNY’s 11,000 teaching adjuncts staff the majority of our classes. And as educators know, teaching requires more hours outside of the classroom than inside it: planning and researching, preparing materials, meeting with students, and assessing their work. Many adjuncts work the equivalent of full-time but have been overlooked because only their classroom hours were counted. This legislation changes that. It recognizes the full-time work performed by many so-called part-time faculty.
Public service loan forgiveness requires employment of at least 30 hours per week. We estimate that thousands of current and former CUNY faculty will meet the threshold because of this legislation. We’re excited to celebrate its enactment. The work of adjuncts often goes unrecognized in our two-tiered academic labor system. We began to right that wrong when the PSC and CUNY negotiated paid office hours for every class that adjuncts teach. Now, thanks to the governor, those who regularly teach three classes per semester will qualify for loan forgiveness, and those who combine their teaching with other public service work will also have an easier time qualifying.
This legislation is a step forward to fixing the student debt crisis that prevents so many New Yorkers from living their best lives. When we confront the student debt crisis we also address structural racism, as Black college graduates are saddled disproportionately with debt. On average, Black college graduates owe $25,000 more in student loans than their White counterparts. We’re grateful to Governor Hochul for her continued commitment to CUNY and today, for putting money back in our members’ pockets and into New York’s economy.
We appreciate the work that you and the legislature have done to help many CUNY faculty members eliminate their student debt and to bring a critical measure of equity to New York’s higher education workforce.