More Than 800,000 In Massachusetts Eligible For Student Loan Relief

Chris Lisinski
State House News Service

About one in nine Massachusetts residents are eligible for student loan debt relief under the plan President Joe Biden outlined last month, the White House said Tuesday.

Biden’s press team published state-by-state data projecting the number of borrowers who could get thousands of dollars of student loan debt erased. In Massachusetts, the White House estimated roughly 813,000 people meet the income requirements to receive relief, about 401,200 of whom are Pell Grant recipients. That pool of potential recipients is the 14th-highest of all states and U.S. territories, and it represents a bit more than 11 percent of the Bay State’s population. California, the most populous state in the country, also has more residents eligible for student debt relief than any other state with about 3.55 million, according to the Biden administration. The Biden administration said it does not know the home state or territory for about 3.77 million borrowers eligible for relief.

Biden’s announcement called on the U.S. Department of Education to cancel up to $20,000 in loan debt held by DOE for Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 for non-Pell Grant recipients. Individual borrowers must have an income less than $125,000 to qualify, while married couples must earn less than $250,000.

Altogether, the White House estimates more than 40 million borrowers nationwide are in line for relief, nearly 90 percent of which the administration says will go to those earning $75,000 or less per year. Required student loan payments have been paused during the pandemic and are set to resume in January. The Biden administration said more details about the debt relief plan will be released in the coming weeks.

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Six Massachusetts Jurisdictions Awarded Over $3 Million in Federal Grants to Support School Safety

The Department of Justice announced today that six Massachusetts jurisdictions will receive over $3 million in grant funding to bolster school security, educate and train students and faculty and support law enforcement officers and first responders who arrive on the scene of a school violence incident.

“President Trump and his administration will ensure the safety of every American school,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “Earlier this year he signed into law the STOP School Violence Act, which provides grant funding to develop anonymous school threat reporting systems, to implement school building security measures, and to train students, school personnel, and law enforcement on how to prevent school violence. Today I am announcing $70 million in these grants to hundreds of cities and states across America. These grants will go a long way toward giving young people and their families both safety and peace of mind.”

“There is no greater priority than preventing violence in schools and keeping students safe,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “Schools should be a safe haven for young people, but as recent events across the country have demonstrated, schools are increasingly becoming targets. These awards will provide new technology for reporting systems and other threat deterrent measures, and create school safety training and education programs for school administrators, staff, students and first responders.”

The Justice Department is awarding more than 220 grants, through three funding sources, to jurisdictions across the country to help make schools more secure:

STOP School Violence Threat Assessment and Technology Reporting Program: The Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) will receive $750,000 to establish regional threat assessment teams, which will involve collaboration among the Commonwealth’s public safety, public health and public education disciplines. The City of Fitchburg, through its police department, will receive $57,364 to solicit professional development training opportunities related to threat assessment team training; to host monthly debriefings regarding concerning issues and behaviors at the schools; and to evaluate the security measures of each school, which will include a detailed assessment of each campus and recommendations for improvements. They will also receive $13,300 to implement anonymous tip reporting software throughout the Fitchburg Public School District over a two year period.

STOP School Violence Prevention and Mental Health Training Program: The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office (MAGO) will receive $1 million to provide school violence and suicide prevention trainings to school districts across the state. The MAGO will partner with Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) to train and educate students and educators in the three Know the Signs violence prevention programs; to re-train students, educators, and schools to provide ongoing support; to create a school and parents’ resource guide of available mental health services in Massachusetts for young people and information on the warning signs of mental illness; and to collect data on all training and education sessions. With grant funding, the MAGO and SHP will be able to train participants in at least 50 school districts, encompassing over 260 schools and almost 140,000 students in grades 6-12.

COPS Office School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP): The cities of Fitchburg, Lowell, Revere and Westfield will receive grants to fund school safety measures including coordination with law enforcement, training for law enforcement to prevent student violence, and technology for expedited notification of law enforcement during an emergency.

The grants are authorized by the STOP School Violence Act, which is intended to improve school security by helping students and teachers reduce exposure to risks, prevent acts of violence, and quickly recognize and respond to violent attacks.

Addition information on the grant announcements is available here: STOP School Violence Threat Assessment and Technology Reporting Program (link is external), STOP School Violence Prevention and Mental Health Training Program, and COPS Office School Violence Prevention Program.

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