On Thursday, Senator Richard Durbin introduced the Adjunct Faculty Loan Forgiveness Act which would allow part-time adjunct faculty to access the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLFP). The PSLFP provides educational loan forgiveness following 120 on time monthly payments made while employed full time in a public service job (which includes jobs at federal, state, and local governments and tax-exempt non-profits). Currently you must work at least 30 hrs a week for the entire year to have your payments qualify, which makes many part-time adjunct faculty ineligible. The new bill would allow adjunct faculty to be eligible for the PSLFP as long as they teach at least 1 course per year and do not hold a full-time non-public service job.
Actions you can take to support the Adjunct Faculty Loan Forgiveness Act:
As with any bill you support, calling or emailing your legislators is a good first step. This bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, so it is especially important to contact your Senator if they are on that committee (list of members can be found here. No CA Senators are members of the committee).
If you want to learn more about the bill, you can join a call with Senator Durbin and the Adjunct Action Network on August 5th.
Action Alert: Ask your senators to support the FY2015 NSF Funding Bill.
I will be using this blog to keep you up to date on good times to contact your legislators to urge their support for relevant bills, especially related to science funding. The budget process stretches from February, when the President submits a budget request, to September, when Congress hopefully passes a budget for the fiscal year beginning in October. Of the ~$3.8 T in federal spending every year, 2/3 of the spending is mandatory funding for things like Medicaid, Social Security and paying off the national debt. Of the remaining discretionary spending, over half goes to defense ($728 B). Most of the debate rages around the non-defense discretionary spending pool ($535 B), which includes funding for scientific research. There are many points during budget negotiations where advocacy can be effective in maintaining favorable science funding levels. If you are interested in more detail about the budget process, I suggest the Society for Neuroscience webinar section: The Federal Budget Process.
This week the Senate is debating the fiscal year (FY 2015) Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill (HR 4660) that funds the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). This bill would provide $7.255 B in funding for NSF, an increase of $83 M (1.2%) above the current level and allow the funding of an additional 140 competitive grants from NSF. The Senate bill would also increase funding for NOAA by $105 M and the USDA would receive an additional $17 M for intramural research and an additional $8.5 M for extramural research. While the bill did leave the Senate Appropriations Committee with bipartisan support, Senators are allowed to add amendments. It is expected that amendments decreasing social science funding are likely. For more on this bill, see here.
You can show your support for increased funding for research at NSF, NOAA and USDA by contacting your senators (in CA our Senators are Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein). Many organizations have easy email forms to fill out, but it often helps to personalize your letter or phone call with information about how this funding will affect you, your lab and/or your students. You can use this site to find out who your legislators are at all levels.