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Proposed Legislation Includes Volunteer Firefighters in Loan For - KOAM TV 7

Proposed Legislation Includes Volunteer Firefighters in Loan Forgiveness Program

Updated:
Pittsburg, KS -

Legislation is proposed to help volunteer emergency responders pay student loans.  U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, from Missouri, is co-sponsoring a bill that would expand a government's financial assistance program to volunteer firefighters.

Stephen Goldschmidt already fights fires.  He's soon going to try, as best as he can, to catch the upper hand on loans.

"It will be a weight on my shoulder," says Goldschmidt.

Goldschmidt is a firefighter in Pittsburg, a volunteer firefighter in Arma, and is going to school for a Fire Science Degree.  

"Once school is over, that's when it starts kicking over and you pay your student loans," says Goldschmidt.

About 70 percent of the firefighters in this country volunteer.

"Some of them have to drive their own vehicles because they're not close to the station.  They pay their own gas," says Thomas Vacca, Pittsburg's Fire Marshall.

Legislation proposed by Senator McCaskill would open the U.S. Department of Education's Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to volunteer firefighters and first responders.  McCaskill said in a statement that these volunteers' student loans could be entirely covered.

Goldschmidt is expecting close to $20,000 worth of debt.

"It'll be something to look forward to, if this does get passed," says Goldschmidt.

...A modest response from Goldschmidt.

"We're lucky to be career, but the ones who are out there volunteering, doing it for their communities, truly do it because that's what they do, and that's all they have in that community," says Vacca.  "So they take it upon themselves to provide that service for the people they live next to."

Firefighters work in teams.  Soon, the whole country may work together as a team to help volunteer firefighters.

Some details of this proposal, such as how long a volunteer must work before getting loan forgiveness, have not been released.

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