DBM announces new Smartwork Initiative featuring limited Loan Forgiveness Program

DBM announces new Smartwork Initiative featuring limited Loan Forgiveness Program

AFSCME demands expansion to ALL State and Higher Education Job Classifications

 Last month, the Department of Budget and Management announced a new Loan Forgiveness Program with a minimal list of eligible job classifications. The program will allow student loan debt of the employee or the employee’s child under the age of twenty five (25) to be repaid in an amount not to exceed $20,000 for a 10 year service commitment to the State by the employee.

In Maryland, the average student loan debt is $40,630* with borrowers in their 50’s increasing by 5.6% in just the last year. Student loan debt is an epidemic across our county and loan forgiveness programs are a huge benefit for all state and higher education employees. In order to continue providing quality public services to Maryland residents, management must expand this program to ensure we continue to retain current employees and recruit quality new employees. 

AFSCME Maryland proposed expanding this program to all bargaining unit classifications. Management declined this, as well as a second list of specific job classifications most impacted by student loans including Social Workers, Psychologists and Parole and Probation Agents, among others. DBM is well aware of the staffing shortages in every agency and yet focused this new retention tool on a limited number of job classifications. This program is a positive benefit that should be afforded to all state employees to aid in retention of current employees and the recruitment of new employees. 

Jakob Klaus, a Licensed Master Social Worker II in Adult Protective Services with the Department of Human Services, discussed how this decision impacts his co-workers “Current salaries for social workers and other professionals are not only, not competitive with other jurisdictions; they do not allow professionals to pay down their student loan debts within the 10 years of the Standard Repayment Plan. The administration's indifference to fair compensation for all professional civil services employees, pushes many state employees into a student debt spiral that we are uncertain if we will ever recover from.”

AFSCME Maryland is demanding the expansion of the Loan Forgiveness Program, at minimum to the most severely short-staffed positions and those most impacted by student debt. This important program should be a benefit for all of our hard-working members who make Maryland happen.


Check out more AFSCME resources on how to tackle student loan debt here!