1. Do early childhood educators working in public-school operated pre-kindergarten programs qualify for the Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program?
According to Vermont Act 45, eligible Early Childhood Educators must be employed in a privately licensed and operated, CDD regulated center-based program or family child care home. If the licensee of a program is a public school or supervisory union, then that program would not qualify as privately operated. Head Start Programs are privately operated.
2. How do I verify that my degree information is in my Bright Futures Information System (BFIS) credential account?
- Visit this link: https://dcf.vermont.gov/childcare/providers/bfis and scroll down to click on “Log In for Credentialing Account”
- On the next page select the Login button for Quality-Credentialing Account and login to the system using your username and password
- Once logged in, click on the Education tab to see the degree and transcript documents that have been added to your account
- If you have trouble logging in or forget your login information, contact the BFIS Help Desk (on the Login page, click the “BFIS Help Desk link)
3. What if I have submitted my degree information for BFIS, but it is not showing in my account?
The application form has an option for you to let us know your information has been submitted but is not yet showing. You need to check that option, and then let us know the date of when you submitted your information. We will follow up with Northern Lights to verify that your degree information has been received.
4. How do I submit my degree information?
- If you have not submitted your degree information, you will need to submit your documents to Northern Lights, so they can be verified and uploaded into your account. Please be sure to send an official or unofficial transcript issued by the college registrar along with a completed and signed verification cover sheet to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to write your name and VTAEYC in the subject line of your email.
- What documents to send to Northern Lights: https://northernlightsccv.org/training/make-training-count/
- Verification Cover Sheet: https://northernlightsccv.org/resource/verification-cover-sheet/
5. Why are qualifying degrees limited to early childhood, child and human development, elementary education, special education with a birth to age 8 focus, or child and family services?
The Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program is a component of Act 45 that was designed to support recent early childhood graduates working in private early education programs. The legislation specifies which degrees meet eligibility requirements at this time. VTAEYC welcomes feedback regarding this or any part of the Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program. The Program was created after early childhood educators advocated for ways to make Higher Education more affordable. We will send notification via email and social media if there are any updates regarding eligibility criteria.
6. Where can I find information about my student loans?
- Your loan servicer is the best resource for documentation and information on your specific loans.
- For each loan you list in your application, you must provide documentation that includes the name of the lender, monthly payment amount, total loan balance, and type of loan. Submitting a lender statement and/or a studentaid.gov report are usually sufficient.
7. Where can I find general information about student loans?
8. What if my loan documents do not list my College/University?
The majority of loan documents actually don’t list the College or University that you attended. As long as your documentation shows the name of the lender, total balance due, monthly payment, and type of loan your documentation will be acceptable. You will need to confirm that you have only listed loans that were obtained for the purpose of earning your qualifying degree in this application.
9. What kinds of student loans are eligible for repayment assistance?
- Federal Stafford
- Federal Perkins
- Federal Consolidation
- VSAC private loan
- Other Private loan
- Other Federal Loan
- A defaulted student loan of the type listed above may still qualify with an active rehabilitation contract between the applicant and loan service provider.
10. What kinds of loans are not eligible for this Program?
- A loan in default with no rehabilitation contract
- Federal PLUS loans
- Personal lines of credit
- Refinanced loans that include non-qualifying degree related debt. (i.e. if you refinanced your student loans with a private lender and rolled credit card debt into the same loan, then we cannot approve that particular loan)
11. Why are loans on Income Driven Repayment (IDR) not eligible for additional funds?
The majority of IDR plans will not pay off a loan, but instead will have an amount forgiven after time. The design of IDR plans mean that making payments above the minimum required payment can actually cause complications when trying to get the loan forgiven.
12. How do I know if my loans are on an Income Driven Repayment Plan?
If you are unsure if one or more of your loans are on an Income Driven Repayment Plan, you need to contact your loan servicer and make sure you report this information accurately on your application.
13. Can I participate in the Student Loan Repayment Assistance program if the CARES Act federal student loan forbearance is in effect and I am not required to make monthly payments?
You may be able to still participate in the Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program if you have any loans that are not on an Income Driven Repayment Plan. If you have private loans or other loans that are not affected by the CARES Act, and still owe a monthly payment on those loans, then yes you may apply for this program using those loans. All funds awarded to you by the Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program must be paid toward your loan debt. Loans on Income Driven Repayment Plans would not be eligible to participate until the CARES Act forbearance period is over.
14. What is the difference between forbearance and deferment?
Forbearance and deferment both allow you to temporarily suspend or reduce your federal student loan payments. The main difference is that if you are in deferment, no interest will accrue on your overall loan balance. If you are in forbearance, interest does accrue on your overall loan balance.
15. Can I apply if I have one or more loans in default?
If you have a loan rehabilitation plan between you and your lender, you may still qualify for this Program. You would need to submit a copy of your rehabilitation plan with your application.
16. Do I have to count household income or income from other jobs to the $50,000 annual salary limit?
No, the $50,000 or below salary requirement only applies to your income from working in privately operated CDD regulated child care programs. You do not need to report income from your spouse or other household income, or income from another job you may have outside the field of child care.
17. What if I work in multiple regulated child care programs? Do all 30 hours per week, or all 48 weeks per year need to be in one program?
You can work in multiple settings as long as they are privately operated CDD regulated programs. The minimum of 30 hours per week can be split between multiple programs, i.e. 15 hours in one and 15 or more hours in another. You will be able to enter multiple employers in your application.
18. How do I figure the average of 30 hours per week? What if my schedule changes each week?
It is ok if your hours change a bit each week as long as you work an average of at least 30 hours per week. If you are unsure, total your hours worked for the last 4 weeks and divide your total hours by 4 to get your weekly average hours.
19. What happens if I stop working in a CDD-regulated program?
If you stop working in a CDD regulated program for more than 4 weeks of the year, or that program closes permanently, you need to notify VTAEYC. Your Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program Award payments will stop.
20. What happens if I change employers, but remain employed in a privately operated CDD regulated program?
If you change your job, but remain working in a CDD-regulated program, you need to notify VTAEYC, but there will not be a change to your award amount. Payments will continue as scheduled. It is important that you update us to ensure our records are accurate.
21. What happens if I fail to turn in my Quarterly Reports?
If you miss a deadline for a Quarterly Report, please turn it in as soon as possible. You will be contacted via email. If you miss the deadline, your payment may be delayed. If you fail to return 2 Quarterly Reports within the annual award period, you will receive a notification of removal from the Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program. After being removed, you can reapply, but would have to start as a new applicant.
22. What is the deadline for applications?
Applications submitted by the 1st of each month will receive a decision by the first of the next month. You may submit an application at any time, but in order to get the maximum award possible applicants should try to complete applications before July 1, 2022.
23. Do I have to be a Vermont resident?
No, you do not have to be a Vermont resident but you must be working in a regulated Vermont program. Any participants that are out-of-state residents need to check with their own tax advisor on any possible tax implications of the Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program funding. VTAEYC does not provide tax advice on tax obligations for any program participants.
24. How is my Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program Award determined?
Your award payment is determined based on your monthly payment plan. Loans that are not on an Income Driven Repayment plan may qualify for additional funds. The program application will ask you questions to help determine if you qualify for funds above your monthly loan payment. All additional funds must be paid to your loan service provider to help reduce your loan debt.
25. How is my payment distributed?
Payments are distributed on a quarterly schedule. Your award letter will detail your payment schedule. Payments will be direct deposited into your bank account unless you request otherwise.
26. Are there tax implications for participation in the Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program?
VTAEYC does not provide legal advice on possible tax obligations resulting from participation in the Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program. Recipients of Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program Awards are responsible for, and should consult with their tax advisors for advice on any tax obligations resulting from awards.
27. Will this Program continue next year?
This Program has been established in state statute and is expected to continue beyond this year. More information on continuation of this program will be provided later this year.
28. Can I apply for funds next year, after I participate in this program year?
Should the program continue beyond this first year, yes as long as you still have qualifying loan debt you would be able to apply again. You would be required to provide loan statements showing that you made regular payments to your loan servicer and applied Student Loan Repayment Assistance Program funds from the previous year, to your student loan debt.
29. For this program, a participant must have earned a qualifying degree within the previous 5 years, on or after January 1, 2017. Will this be the same next year, or will the date change to 2018?
We will have an update later this year regarding the answer to this question.