News


16 in Congress seek to cancel student loan debt for local lab employees

Workers at Livermore Lab, Sandia could be eligible

Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) has called on the Education Department to forgive the student loans of employees at Livermore and Sandia national laboratories.

Swalwell urged the department to make employees of all privately operated Department of Energy (DOE) labs eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. The program forgives the federal student loans of workers at qualified non-profit or government organizations after 10 years of full-time employment.

While employees of some DOE labs are eligible for this loan forgiveness program, five labs, including Lawrence Livermore and Sandia in Swalwell's congressional district, are not because they are operated by for-profit companies.

"The employees of Department of Energy Labs like Sandia and Lawrence Livermore are committed public servants," Swalwell wrote in a letter to the DOE.

"These labs have a long history of scientific breakthroughs, but when faced with high student loan debt, some young scientists and engineers are forced to opt for more lucrative careers in the private sector," Swalwell said.

"It makes perfect sense to offer all DOE lab employees, regardless of how their lab is operated, the opportunity to participate in the (program), he added. "Growing student loan debt should not be an impediment to the next generation of our best and brightest from devoting their careers to the critical endeavors of our DOE national labs."

There are 16 DOE national labs operated by private entities nationwide. These labs are operated by contractors but owned by the government with a public interest mission, such as nuclear security or energy independence. At least 70% of the labs' funding must come from the federal government.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program was created in 2007 to incentivize public sector employment. The program forgives the remaining federal student loan balance of borrowers who work for qualified non-profits or government agencies and made 120 qualifying monthly payments on their loans.

Sixteen Members of Congress joined Swalwell in signing the letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan. They are Representatives Tony Cardenas, Judy Chu, Mark DeSaulnier, Anna G. Eshoo, Chaka Fattah, Bill Foster, Michael M. Honda, Sheila Jackson Lee, Marcy Kaptur, James R. Langevin, Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Ben Ray Lujan, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Ed Perlmutter, and Bonnie Watson Colman.

Comments

8 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 4, 2015 at 8:43 am

Young researchers working at national labs that are worth their salt would have been given free ride scholarships to attend the college of their choice. Followed by grants and fellowships to attend post graduate studies. So just who are these politicians giving taxpayer money to?


4 people like this
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Nov 4, 2015 at 9:27 am

anybody that needs the assistance...what's the reasoning for dismissing debts...


4 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2015 at 9:48 am

"... would have been given free ride scholarships to attend the college of their choice."

Where do you get that idea. Undergraduate work typically isn't subsidized and students at top colleges (Cal Tech, MIT, Princeton, ...) typically run up a lot of student loan debt.


18 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 4, 2015 at 11:12 am

I'm wondering if I can get reimbursed for the student loans I paid off 30 years ago by working 2 jobs and not asking for a government handout?? Would it be discrimination if they don't pay off everybody's student loans no matter where they worked?


14 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2015 at 11:21 am

I guess we should not have bothered to save and pay for college for our two. Just take out loans and whine about it long and loud enough to have some idiot say don't worry, someone else will take on your financial commitment. What a joke. If you borrow money you pay it back, or find another way to get your education.


8 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 4, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Where do I get the idea? Only being a parent of three kids that all graduated from college and who had exceptionally smart kids as friends in high school. These kids were sought after by the leading colleges with all expense paid scholarships. These are the type of kids that end up in national laboratories. Yes there are other kids that get jobs as well, but generally because of daddy's coat-tails. These young adults can pay their own way. They shouldn't be bailed out because daddy is a political donor to Eric's campaign. This is another example of politicians taking a good thing and bastardizing it so that their donors or donors’ relatives can make a buck off of the taxpayer.
Also don’t you think that if the National Lab wanted a person really, really bad, they wouldn’t forgive their debt? The labs have tons of money that can be used to persuade superstar researchers to come and work at their facilities. Eric wants to extend this gratuity to your average worker bee, and that is wrong.


3 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2015 at 1:10 pm

" These kids were sought after by the leading colleges with all expense paid scholarships."

Those kinds of scholarships for undergraduate programs at schools like the ones I named are extremely rare -- Well less than 10% or students. Basically you're saying you know someone who knows someone who got a scholarship.

"Yes there are other kids that get jobs as well, but generally because of daddy's coat-tails. "

That's completely ridiculous.


2 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2015 at 1:14 pm

"I'm wondering if I can get reimbursed for the student loans I paid off 30 years ago by working 2 jobs and not asking for a government handout??"

A government guaranteed student load with a government IS A HANDOUT. Just like Social Security and Medicare. If you took a GSL load (like I did) to pay for some of your tuition and expenses, you did take a handout, even if you paid it back (like I did). GSLs were loans that banks would not otherwise have made without the federal Guaranteed Student Loan program.


14 people like this
Posted by JC
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2015 at 1:34 pm

I call BS on this plan. Why should young people at LLNL get this benefit? It's a FOR PROFIT business!!!! My kids aren't getting any freebies like that after they go to work! Why did I vote for this guy - I'm beginning to wonder.


15 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2015 at 4:32 pm

This is totally ridiculous - you pay back your debts period. I don't want to pay for these loans as a taxpayer. I'm saving up for my kids. Why is he doing this?? This is a slippery slope with many unintended consequences.


7 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 4, 2015 at 4:32 pm

I personally know of several employees at LLNL whose skids were greased by their dad being a manager at the lab. I grew up in the shadow of Lockheed so I know how the system works.
These workers have a good pension plan and health care. Why do we need to pay them because they graduated from college?
I don't think Eric thought of this himself. I suspect some parent whose kid works at LLNL researched this and discovered that parents can get reimbursed if they are the ones who got the federal student loan and paid for it. This parent is probably a political donor and decided to bug Eric about reclassifying LLNL and Sandia as "public service" organizations.
Actually the student loan forgiveness program was designed to be given to students who work in under-served (rual) areas in jobs that are typically low paying, such as health care providers, public safety, Peace Corps, Ameri Corps, community legal service, etc. Engineers and scientists making six figure salaries do not fall in these categories.


4 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Nov 4, 2015 at 5:32 pm

@Bill: "These workers have a good pension plan and health care."

The younger workers who would presumably be most effected by this do not have pension plans. Pension plans for new employees ended about 7 years ago when LLNL transitioned from University of California management to a management by a private consortium.


3 people like this
Posted by Private Co w poor benefits
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2015 at 1:29 pm

They probably need all the help they can get trying to recruit,
because they now have a reputation for not valuing, and abusing their employees,
Working conditions and benefits are no longer competitive.
Corporate knowledge and experience doesn't count.
Use them up and throw them away.

Lots of Take Aways, including:
Poor Retirement, they even closed cafeterias,
and Benefits and Payroll Offices closed during lunch, the very time when employees might want to visit.

They are still dragging out the court case about Health Benefits for the Retirees, for years,
having lost a few go arounds.

But they are still running the National Labs,
so maybe we should try to get good people:
(smart, but not smart enough to get a better paying job for an employer who cares!)


10 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 5, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Hey BobB check out the definition of "handout". My student loan was just that, a loan that I agreed to pay back, just like any other loan, nothing in that agreement said I could whine and bellyache and get a free ride, these people need to man-up and be responsible for their debts!! As for Medicare and social security that I paid into my whole working career I plan on collecting on my fair share of every dime I put into it !!!! I paid my way and I don't think I should have to pay for somebody else that wants a free ride.


64 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2015 at 3:49 pm

Sorry Map,

But it is a handout and I'm paying for your free ride. You can whine all you want about paying in, but you were just paying taxes like the rest of us, and now you want a handout. That's what Social Security and Medicare are.

I have no problem helping you out with my taxes that go to your Social Security check and pay your medical expenses. But just be honest. They are handouts.


21 people like this
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Nov 5, 2015 at 4:09 pm

@BobB

Well, I disagree with your claim that Social Security is a "handout", at least for people of my generation who have not yet retired. People of my generation can expect to get back a small fraction of all the money that we put into the system. If my getting back a small fraction of the money I put into a system is considered a "handout", then thank God I'm not getting any more "handouts". With more "handouts" like this I would go completely broke.

(BTW, how in the world did you manage to get 50 "like"-votes within 9 minutes after you posted? I've noticed before that there must be people playing games with the "like"-voting system on these forums, but that's the most extreme case of funny business going on that I've seen.)


5 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2015 at 4:11 pm

Map, Parent, JC, and all other TEA party people posting on this form:

Wow, I can't believe you are complaining about this! If you read the article carefully (something that may be beyond your capability), Eric is just fighting to get Livermore and Sandia lab employees a benefit that ALMOST ALL OTHER federal employees get. This isn't a big benefit either. They have to work for 10 years and make payments on their student load for 10 years before the benefit will pay off their remaining federal student loan debt! After 10 years, there's probably not much debt remaining.

Anyway, as is stands now, your federal tax dollars are going to forgive the remaining student loan debt of tons of other federal employees in other cities. So why not federal employees in Livermore? Or do you prefer all your tax dollars going to benefit federal employees in other cities only?


6 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2015 at 6:26 pm

"BTW, how in the world did you manage to get 50 "like"-votes within 9 minutes after you posted? "

Wow, I have no idea.


4 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2015 at 6:31 pm

"Well, I disagree with your claim that Social Security is a "handout", at least for people of my generation "

I disagree with your claim that it isn't a handout for your generation, my generation, or any later generations that receives any benefit. The way it has always works is that current taxes pay current retirees. It has never worked any other way. It is silly to break out "social security taxes" as some special category different from any other income tax. It is just tax. Always has been. Same thing with the payments. They are welfare payments. Gifts. Handouts. Always have been. Don't make the mistake of somehow tying them to some taxes you paid.


6 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 6, 2015 at 10:34 am

So if everybody that paid into SSI and Medicare are now receiving a " handout" what are you calling all those foreigners that started collecting payouts as soon as they hit our shores?? Something akin to grand theft of my taxpayer dollars!


1 person likes this
Posted by How does this work for foreigners?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2015 at 10:58 am

Tell me how foreigners can collect?
I was told my Social Security requires 40 "quarters",
or at least 10 years of payments to qualify.

And I thought it was tied to my salary at the time, which determines how much I paid.

But it may be seriously abridged if in addition to what I paid in,
I also worked elsewhere to earn a different govt pension.

What's wrong with this picture?


2 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 6, 2015 at 2:29 pm

A foreigner can gain access to a social security card by entering the US legally and granted permanent residence (lawful alien status). Once given a SSN, the recipient has to qualify for benefits as you stated, but is immediately eligible for SSI (social security disability insurance). Also in 2012, 541,000 social security cards were issued to children that came with their parents into the country illegally.
It use to be that you had to be a US citizen to get a social security card. Anyone else was given an ITIN (individual taxpayer identification number which is still used for taxpayers or dependents not eligible for a SSN). It also was a requirement that you had to be age 12 or older to apply. Now the SSN is given at birth.

@Damon - thanks for the clarification on pensions. But this still raises the question, in order to be eligible for the cancellation of student loans, you have to be a federal employee. If you are a federal employee you are eligible to receive a federal pension. So does this mean anyone who works at LLNL or Sandia as a contractor is now eligible for this federal employee program regardless of whether you are actually employed by the government?




2 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2015 at 3:32 pm

Bill,

Your assertion that anyone "worth his salt" would get a "free ride" at the college of his choice is not only a gross exaggeration, it is completely ridiculous.

Only a small fraction of undergraduates at the schools I named are on full scholarship, and virtually all students at those schools are top achievers.


Like this comment
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Nov 6, 2015 at 6:02 pm

@Bill: "@Damon - thanks for the clarification on pensions. But this still raises the question, in order to be eligible for the cancellation of student loans, you have to be a federal employee."

Not sure if I follow everything you wrote. I'll just make some points to make sure that we are on the same page: First, the original post above did not say you had to be a Federal employee to qualify for this program. It said that you had to work for a qualified non-profit or government organization. Also, employees of LLNL and all of the other national labs I know of are not Federal employees. They are contract employees who work for an organization hired by the Federal government to manage the lab.For labs like Lawrence Berkeley Lab or Ames Lab, that organization is a non-profit university. For LLNL and LANL that organization used to be a non-profit (the Univ. of California) but is now a for-profit consortium. The bottom line is that employees of LBL or Ames are eligible for this program but employees of LLNL and LANL are not.


3 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 6, 2015 at 6:06 pm

Hmmmm, does my time in the military qualify me as a federal employee?? I'll take anything I'm entitled to at least I earned it!! Check out Google for foreigners bringing in their parents who then qualify for social security, USA, what a great place to live!!


Like this comment
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2015 at 7:58 am

@Map,

The small number of foreign nationals who collect Social Security payments are also getting a handout.

"Hmmmm, does my time in the military qualify me as a federal employee??"

If you had retired from the military, sure. Also, programs like ROTC pay for college.


3 people like this
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Nov 7, 2015 at 8:39 am

I must admit that I admire Senator Sanders for offering a free college education if he's elected President of the United States! VIVA BERNIE! VIVA!

I also believe that ALL American citizens at age 18 must serve in the US Military...2 yrs. minimum to earn full American citizenship.

In other words, male/females cannot become American citizens unless they serve their country. Marriage and having children is no excuse for not serving. fair is fair...no discrimination re: size, weight, color, shape...you're in the Army now!


1 person likes this
Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Las Positas
on Nov 7, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Taxpayers, just where does this "free money" come from to forgive those debts? From US, of course (well, at least half of us who pay taxes). It's typical of the Dems to spend OUR money in this way. Thanks, Eric Swalwell (and those who voted to put you in office). This is why I didn't vote for you and who I won't subscribe to your Clinton-Obama liberal doctrine. Wake up, fellow citizens! Please vote and get our country on the right track again before you lose everything you rightfully earned.


2 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2015 at 2:02 pm

@Fed Up,

Calm down, a lot more people pay taxes than 50%. Don't believe the propaganda.

Republicans spend our money too, and neither party seems to be serious about getting entitlements under control. Both parties happily bailed out failed financial companies in the aughts, as well as deepened the medicare deficit.


3 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 7, 2015 at 4:27 pm

I finally agree with cholo on something, YES all American citizens should do a minimum 2 years in the military or maybe even community service, but then what about all the rich, privileged kids, and the children of congressmen, senators, and presidents, might have to set up something special for them -- maybe a free college education, an unlimited Starbucks card, and a guaranteed high paying job.


3 people like this
Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Las Positas
on Nov 7, 2015 at 7:11 pm

Brian,

Those "poor" federal employees...No matter how lame some of them they are, they never get fired and you want us to pay their debts.

Your premise that that the money will go to others is completely beside the point (Surprise, surprise...typical "distraction" when you do not have a sound argument). It doesn't matter whether this happens in "other cities." I don't want MY federal tax dollars going to ANY of them! Why should "they" end up with a free ride, when the rest of us pay our own debts (and yes, I had a college loan which I paid for over a period of years - $93.11 to Citibank every month - on my OWN).

...There is something to be said about "personal responsibility" and THAT is at the heart of the matter. Period!

By the way, Brian, by any chance, do YOU work for the government? Maybe you can explain what happened to the $4.56M that FEMA cannot account for? That's what happens when you grow the government to epic proportions: Epic fail!



2 people like this
Posted by Fed Up
a resident of Las Positas
on Nov 7, 2015 at 7:14 pm

Map,

Thank you for your service! I hope the VA does right by you and all others to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for their sacrifice.


2 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2015 at 8:14 pm

@Fed Up,

You paid more than that to Citi.

Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Nov 8, 2015 at 10:03 am

I believe that to become a voting American citizen, all male/female Americans must serve in the US Military.

If you have outstanding student loans, then add a third year if that student wants her/his debt dismissed.

Most parents want their children to live long happy lives. As I see it, I strongly recommend involuntary sterilization for those young men/women who refuse to serve their country. No servy no babies!

Americians that are sterilized would likely be much happier if they are also deported to the country of their ancestry. There is no excuse for being an American cowards. i rest my case...


Like this comment
Posted by AA
a resident of Livermore
on Dec 4, 2015 at 5:46 am

What is not being explained is that this forgiveness does not occur until after 120 consecutive payments on the student loan. If you can do the math that equates to 10 years of paying on the loan. Also to those of you who are so strongly against this, do your research and you would know that most student loans are paid back in 10 years. There are longer terms, but this means more interest.


3 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 4, 2015 at 1:13 pm

@AA - the point is not the cancellation of debt, rather it is the government giving preferential treatment to government workers who work in essentially the same type of jobs as the general workforce. The money used to fund this program comes from all the taxpayers. If there is not enough money to fund the program for the entire population, then do away with this discriminatory program. Also any money forgiven should be treated as income and the recipient should be handed a 1099-C by the IRS. The original intent of this program was to help government employees that are willing to commit to a personal sacrifice in order to serve their countrymen. I don't count working at the national labs in the Bay Area as a sacrifice. In fact quite the opposite.


Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 4, 2015 at 8:46 pm

I like it, I paid off my home loan 15yrs into my 30yr mortgage. I should be able to stop paying it.

What's this cost of money thing?!

Ha!


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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