Board of Education building located in Cleveland, Ohio.

Social workers and social work students joined together for a rally in Boston, Massachusetts to show their support for potential legislation that aims to alleviate financial issues for social workers dealing with student debt.

Massachusetts Senate Bill 683 would establish a pilot program administered by the board of higher education. The intention of the program is to assist social workers with student loan repayment. It was referred to the committee of Higher Education in late January. The program would call for $1.2 million in funding.

The bill would provide $250 a month for a maximum period of 48 months. Eligible applicants cannot have an income that is greater than five times the poverty threshold, and they must be in the social work field starting in July of 2017. They must be enrolled in child welfare. As mentioned earlier, the bill stipulates a pilot program, so only 100 individuals will participate in the program.

Social workers are notoriously underpaid. Factoring in the burden of student loan debt, it is even harder for social workers to stay afloat while paying bills.

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A recent survey from The Student Loan Report found that the burden of student debt affects almost every aspect of a borrower’s life. 63 percent of respondents said that student debt has affected their ability to buy a home and 41 percent reporting that they’re having a hard time even keeping up with daily expenses.

Establishing a home and family aren’t student debtors only worries. Nearly 50 percent of survey respondents claimed that student loans were keeping them from buying a new car. Furthermore, 73 percent said that it affected their ability to start a retirement fund.

These problems transcend all occupations and regions, but for certain industries such as social work, the issues that were addressed are especially acute. And social workers are at greater risk of struggling with student debt considerably due to their low average income. At any rate, this situation can be seen as a driving factor behind the pilot program that may come to be in Massachusetts.

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