Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Waiver- A Way to Get Closer to Loan Forgiveness

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is a federal program that forgives student loan debt for borrowers who work for a government or a non-profit employer such as teachers, firefighters, nurses, members of the military, and other public service workers. As a Henrico County employee, it may include you.

In October 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced temporary, transformational changes to get public service workers closer to loan forgiveness. These changes include:

  • For a limited time, you may receive credit for past periods of repayment on loans that would otherwise not qualify for PSLF.
  • If you have FFEL, Perkins, or other federal student loans, you’ll need to consolidate your loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify for PSLF both in general and under the waiver. Before consolidating, make sure to check to see if you work for a qualifying employer.
  • Past periods of repayment will now count regardless of whether you made a payment, made that payment on time, for the full amount due, on a qualifying repayment plan.
  • Periods of deferment or forbearance, and periods of default, continue to not qualify.

Therefore, if you did not previously qualify for the PSLF, you may not qualify with the new waiver guideline. You must work for your qualifying employer full time, which amounts to at least 30 hours per week. If you work part-time for two qualifying employers and your time averages at least 30 hours per week, you may still be eligible.  To receive these benefits, borrowers must submit a single application used to certify employment and evaluate a borrower for forgiveness by October 31, 2022.

Henrico County Department of Human Resources, encourages all present and future employees to utilize this benefit. If you are interested, please follow the link to complete the necessary form and our Human Resources Department/Administration Division, will verify and confirm Henrico County is a qualified employer.

More information is available from Federal Student Aid at StudentAid.gov/PSLFWaiver. The Department of Education will communicate directly with borrowers about these changes to PSLF; to help borrowers understand how they may benefit and any actions they may need to take. Borrowers should ensure they have accounts on StudentAid.gov and their contact information is updated.    

For more information, please use https://studentaid.gov to get assistance.

Please use these resources to learn more about Repayment Plans.

Finally, we hope this information will assist in obtaining loan forgiveness during your tenure with Henrico County!

 

Resources:

https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/fact-sheet-public-service-loan-forgiveness-pslf-program-overhaul

https://studentaid.gov/help-center/answers/article/what-is-considered-full-time-employment-for-pslf

https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamminsky/2021/11/18/student-loan-forgiveness-education-department-clarifies-rules-for-expanded-new-program/?sh=229cf0d19611

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A New Year, a New You! In 2022 Put Effort into a New, Improved, and Healthier You!

With 2022 just around the corner, it is time to start setting your sights on what you want to accomplish in the new year. For many, embarking on a New Year’s resolution is met with a couple of weeks, maybe a month or two, of staying on track and meeting your goals only to gradually fall off the new set course and revert to your old habits.  How can you make 2022 different? What can you do to be more focused on achieving your objectives? Well, if you have goals that are centered around your health, wellness, and/or fitness, here is how!

In 2022 the Fitness and Wellness Division of Human Resources is hosting a year-long challenge available to every Henrico County employee and retiree. The challenge, 2022 in 2022, will consist of breaking the year into quarters (13-week blocks) where each quarter focuses on a specific objective. There will be one constant through each quarter which is accumulating 2022 minutes of physical activity/exercise. 2022 minutes may seem very daunting, however let’s look at it broken down. 2022 minutes = 155.5 minutes per week or 2.6 hours per week or 2 hours and 36 minutes per week.  If we break this down further, it is:

  • 7 days at 23 minutes per day
  • 5 days at 31 minutes per day
  • 4 days at 39 minutes per day
  • 3 days at 52 minutes per day.

 

An important thing to remember is that this does not have to be strenuous exercise. Increasing physical activity, going for a walk, taking on an at-home exercise video, or attending a fitness class will work!  If you would like to learn more about participating, please email Fitness and Wellness at [email protected].

In addition to the year-long challenge, Fitness and Wellness is also continuing the 10-week health coaching groups. The health coaching groups are centered around small group-based topic-specific behavior changes. So far there have been two 10-week sessions completed with great success!  Here is what a few who have participated in health coaching so far had to say:

“This group has helped us focus on healthier habits, redefined relationships with food, and set reasonable goals for getting healthy.”

“I learned a lot about eating healthy, and fueling your body without dieting.” 

“I enjoyed discussing healthier nutrition habits and choices with other colleagues and our health coach in this work group. We learned useful tips and resources to help us stary mindful of healthy eating.” 

Working with our coach alongside friends pushes me to stay committed and keep the big health picture in mind. “

If you are interested in improving your health and wellness and these health coaching groups interest you, please reach out to Liz Stovall at [email protected].

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Office 365 and You

Microsoft Teams, OneDrive, Chats, Channels, SharePoint.

Hopefully, all of these are buzz words you have heard around the County for several years now. Some people are heavy users of these applications and want to know more. Others may not have heard of them at all, but this list just sparked an interest.

Both groups are in luck. The Department of Information Technology (IT) has worked with the Microsoft Store Training division to coordinate training for all levels of users. Starting Tuesday, January 11 through Thursday, February 3, Microsoft will be hosting two sessions every Tuesday and Thursday.

Topics will include Cloud Storage in O365, Microsoft Teams Level 100 and Level 200, Microsoft Teams Chat and Meetings Level 100, Microsoft Teams Channels and Files Level 100, and Microsoft SharePoint Online Level 100 and Level 200.

Examples of objectives include sharing and managing access to files and folders, synchronizing cloud storage locations to a device, joining your first meeting, learning about activity, chat, teams, calling, calendar, and files in Teams, working with SharePoint Online document libraries, and so much more!

Below is a chart with all the dates, times, and training topics. Review them and put a placeholder in your calendar so you can attend the sessions that interest you.

Agendas and information on how to register will come out in a December General Notice. If you have additional questions, please contact Kenny Mitchell at extension 5784 or [email protected].

Date

Time (Eastern)

Training Topic

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

10:00AM-11:00AM

Cloud Storage in M365

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

2:00PM-3:00PM

Cloud Storage in M365

Thursday, January 13, 2022

10:00AM-11:00AM

Cloud Storage in M365

Thursday, January 13, 2022

2:00PM-3:00PM

Cloud Storage in M365

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

10:00AM-11:00AM

Teams L100

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

2:00PM-3:00PM

Teams: Chats & Meetings

Thursday, January 20, 2022

10:00AM-11:00AM

Teams: Chats & Meetings

Thursday, January 20, 2022

2:00PM-3:00PM

Teams L100

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

10:00AM-11:00AM

Teams L200

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

2:00PM-3:00PM

Teams: Channels & Files

Thursday, January 27, 2022

10:00AM-11:00AM

Teams: Channels & Files

Thursday, January 27, 2022

2:00PM-3:00PM

Teams L200

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

10:00AM-11:00AM

SharePoint L100

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

2:00PM-3:00PM

SharePoint L200

Thursday, February 3, 2022

10:00AM-11:00AM

SharePoint L200

Thursday, February 3, 2022

2:00PM-3:00PM

SharePoint L100

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October is Energy Month

October is National Energy Awareness Month as designated by the U.S. Department of Energy, and October 6th is Energy Efficiency Day.

Join Henrico Energy Management to celebrate on Wednesday October 6th from 11:30-1:30 in conjunction with the food trucks in the plaza between the Administration Building and the parking deck. Henrico Public Works, Henrico Libraries, Henricopolis Soil & Water Conservation, and Keep Henrico Beautiful will also be there to share information on their environmental programs. Insulated lunch bags (for first 100 visitors) and other fun gifts will be available. Please wear a mask when interacting with the representatives at the tables. If weather or health conditions cancel the food truck event, then the energy event will also be cancelled.

Energy Awareness Month is an opportunity to focus on the ways we use energy in our lives, and to be reminded of ways to save energy that we can practice all year round. Reducing energy use not only saves money, it also has environmental benefits such as improving air quality and conserving natural resources. There are three main energy awareness strategies: conservation, efficiency, and renewables. Here are some ideas to consider:

  1. Conservation – reducing energy use through simple behavior changes such as:
    1. Turning off lights that aren’t needed
    2. Setting back the thermostat
    3. Unplugging chargers and electronic devices when not in use
    4. Using power-saving settings on computers and printers
  2. Efficiency – making upgrades to perform the same tasks with less energy such as:
    1. Changing out older light bulbs to LEDs,
    2. Adding insulation or weatherstripping to keep conditioned air in
    3. Installing smart devices that adjust/turn off automatically
    4. Replacing inefficient HVAC equipment with new efficient models
  3. Renewables – changing from traditional utility energy to more sustainable renewable sources:
    1. Evaluate homes, businesses, and institutional buildings to see if they’re good candidates for solar systems

For more information about saving energy at your home or business, there are two local non-profit organizations that offer energy education, energy audits, efficiency measures, and support to go solar. Find resources at Viridiant at https://www.viridiant.org/ and Local Energy Alliance Program at https://leap-va.org/.

To learn more about what Henrico County is doing for energy, sustainability, and the environment, go to https://henrico.us/go-green/.  If you have any questions, please contact Henrico’s Energy Manager Carrie Webster at 804-501-5763 or [email protected].

 

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Job Burnout: what is it and how the Employee Assistance Program can help

The COVID-19 pandemic has created stress in workplaces. Many workers made significant adjustments to their normal routines. Some worked from home, some were forced to juggle children participating in virtual learning while trying to complete their work, and others were faced with the reality of day-to-day interactions with the public and the increased risk of catching COVID-19. For many people, the stress has accumulated as the pandemic has lingered. A recent research article noted, “COVID-19 has contributed to greater risk of employees encountering job burnout—a chronic stress syndrome, including permanent feelings of exhaustion and a distant attitude toward work”.

The consequences of job burnout can be serious and are compounded by the sense of isolation many people have experienced during the pandemic. Employees may experience decreased job satisfaction, increased irritability and depression, and increased use of alcohol or other substances. In response to job burnout, some workers experience increased physical ailments like headaches, fatigue, and gastrointestinal ailments.

The first step in addressing job burnout is realizing that you are experiencing it. Many workers simply press on with their job paying little attention to their physical and mental health. The Mayo Clinic suggests some questions to ask yourself:

  • Have you become more critical or cynical at work?
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Have you been irritable or impatient with co-workers or customers?

It may be beneficial to check with co-workers or family members and see if they notice changes in your behavior or attitude, too.

When people are experiencing burnout, there are some effective strategies to help manage it. For most individuals, regular exercise, healthy eating and planned opportunities to relax can alleviate the situation. Other people may experience more serious symptoms of depression and may benefit from professional help through a therapist or an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

The Employee Assistance Program also offers free articles, courses, and other resources to help improve your mental and physical health. If you think you are experiencing burnout or simply added stress, please visit the Employee Assistance Program page on the Employee Portal to see what options are available to you and how EAP may help.

Some additional resources include:

Seven Powerful Ways to Beat Burnout (https://www.forbes.com/sites/travisbradberry/2016/11/08/7-powerful-ways-to-beat-burnout/?sh=710f558761e6)

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Breast Cancer – The who, what, where, when, and sometimes, why.

What affects your risk of breast cancer? 

The exact causes of breast cancer are not fully known. No one knows why one person gets breast cancer, yet another doesn’t. However, some things increase (or decrease) the chance of getting breast cancer, called risk factors.

Breast Cancer is complex and likely caused by a combination of multiple risk factors. Some you can control, like leading a healthy lifestyle, while some are out of your control, like getting older.

Since you can only control some factors, you cannot completely avoid the chance of getting breast cancer. Plus, most of the risk factors that can be mitigated have only a minimal effect on the probability of developing the disease. This means no one behavior will prevent breast cancer, but it also means there’s no single factor that will guarantee cancer will develop. The best advice in breast cancer prevention is to talk with your doctor about your risk.

Make healthy lifestyle choices

Most people with breast cancer were at average risk. We don’t know which factors came together to cause breast cancer. However, some healthy lifestyle choices may reduce the risk of cancer:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Add exercise to your routine.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Limit menopausal hormone use.
  • Breastfeed, if you can.

Get the facts about breast cancer

Because the causes of breast cancer are not fully known, there are many myths about the disease. Here are some basic facts to know:

  • The most common risk factors for breast cancer are being female and getting older.
  • Risk factors can vary by race and ethnicity.
  • Most women who get breast cancer don’t have a family history of breast cancer
  • Drinking alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer.
  • Wearing a bra doesn’t cause breast cancer.

Other Resources

Visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. for safe, accurate, and current breast cancer information.

Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool (the Gail Model) is often used by doctors to estimate risk. Although the tool can estimate your risk, it cannot tell whether you’ll get breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society provides information on breast cancer awareness, diagnosis, treatment, and staying well after treatment.

Join the Challenge – 35 miles in 31 days

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Now is the time to take care of you… you deserve it.

Human Resources’ Fitness and Wellness Division health coaches are your personal advocates for living an energized life. We work with employees to help create happy, healthy lives in a way that is flexible, fun and free of denial. By working together, the health coach and the employee can discover the lifestyle choices that best support you to reach your current and future health goals.

Our group health coaching is designed to address weight loss, better nutrition, becoming more active and finding balance. Our health coaches understand that getting on the right path toward your health goals is a process that requires support, adjustment, and taking small steps to make lasting and positive changes. Whether you want to lose weight, eat better, be more active or you just want to feel better overall, you have a team of qualified health coaches who are ready to help.

Joey Pacelli is currently leading a group of three individuals working to lose weight and had this to say about the success of the group:  “{They} have become very close and are using each other for accountability measures in multiple aspects of their weight loss journey – this includes keeping each other honest with goals, meal planning recipes, being workout partners, and supporters when someone is having a rough day/week. Through our group and individual meetings, I have challenged each of them to keep a measure of multiple things as a way for us to measure progress. This group is really coming together and forming a tight bond which has visually helped them stay motivated and focused!”

“I joined the health coaching series because I had completely lost all my healthy habits over the last year. While my main goal was to lose weight, I really needed to re-learn healthier habits.  I knew I needed a higher level of accountability if I was going to get back on track.” Recalls Ty Parr, one of the group participants.

“This group has really helped me focus on healthier habits, redefine my relationship with food, and set reasonable goals for my health journey.  It’s easy for me to stay focused on the scale, and struggle with my thought process. This has helped me recommit to a healthier lifestyle.  The social networking and coaching check-ins are encouraging, educational, and motivating. Working with our coach alongside friends pushes me to stay committed and keep the big health picture in mind.”

 

The next session of health coaching groups begins the first week of October. If you are interested in learning more visit the Fitness and Wellness SharePoint Site

Now is your time! Talk with someone about your health and received the personal attention you deserve!

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The ABCs of Saving: How to teach your college-age kids about money

As a parent, you know staying on track with your finances requires a lot of preparation, focus and discipline.

It’s not always as easy as 1-2-3.

Now put your feet in the shoes of your college-aged child who is trying to learn the ropes when it comes to managing their own income and setting their own goals. Regardless of their grade level, academic major or career path, money can be a tough subject to master. So, it helps to begin with the basics.

If you’re a mom or a dad, you can play a critical role in teaching your kids about the importance of investing in their future and providing them with tips, tricks and techniques to help them be smart with their spending.

Before your student heads back to campus in the fall, hold a short study session to educate them on the “ABCs” of saving.

A IS FOR ACTION

Back-to-school season is all about hitting the books, but it’s also a great time for you to assign some financial homework.

Start with the topic of earning.

Your child doesn’t need to attend class to understand money doesn’t grow on trees. In the real world, of course, people collect a regular paycheck for completing various tasks and duties related to their profession.

Today, nearly 45% of undergraduate students work on a part-time basis.1 Encouraging your young adult to find a temporary gig or side hustle — and even assisting them in their search — can help them sharpen their savings skills while they’re away from home.2 By putting in a few hours per week at a local coffeehouse, supermarket or bookstore, they can bring in a little extra cash for today while improving their financial standing for tomorrow. In fact, research suggests individuals who hold a job while attending college often secure a larger salary after graduation than their peers who don’t work.3

 

B IS FOR BUDGETING

Needs vs. wants.

It seems like a simple philosophy to follow, but many people can fail the test if they don’t have the right plan in place.

Showing your child how to build a budget can help them realize they don’t have to break the bank to cover common costs associated with college like books, meals and activities. See if a mobile app or online tool can help them organize their expenses, bills and priorities. Have them factor in all their income sources, too. They may have a long list of accounts to manage and balance, such as financial aid, student loans and personal wages, as well as any funds they receive from you and other relatives.

Recording every transaction can help your child gain control of their money and identify some of their unhealthy spending habits — which could help them avoid racking up unnecessary debt in the process.4

C IS FOR CREDIT

Buy now.

Pay later.

While this concept may sound too good to be true to your child, it’s important for you to explain to them how a credit card really functions. After all, more than one-third of college students owe over $1,000 on their credit card as everyday purchases can add up quickly.5 Each swipe can create a deeper hole.

Talking to your child about the benefits, rules and capabilities of a credit card can help them get familiar with credit and use it responsibly. For example, you may simply advise them that a credit card carries a certain limit with a promise to pay back the outstanding balance. In other words, it’s not free money. Make sure they’re aware that if they don’t submit their payments on time, they could be faced with interest charges and late fees, which may negatively impact their credit score down the road.6

1 American Association of University Professors, “Recognizing the Reality of Working College Students,” February 2020.

2 The College Investor, “Side Hustle Ideas: 50+ Ways To Make Money Fast,” July 2021.

3 CNBC, “To get a bigger paycheck after college, start working now,” May 2019.

4 Debt.org, “10 Financial Tips for College Students,” May 2021.

5 CNBC, “Over a third of college students already have credit card debt,” June 2019.

6 Debt.org, “10 Financial Tips for College Students,” May 2021.

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A Win-Win with Food Trucks

If you have been in the Western Government Center around lunchtime the past few weeks, you may have seen food vendors and a small crowd. The “Food Truck Wednesday” events began this past month with vendors scheduled through October. Each week, two area food trucks will be stationed in the common area between the parking garage and the administration building to sell lunch from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. In case you are curious, her is the why and how all of this came about.

“Unfortunately, there has been a delay in opening Café 1611 and for those that work at the Courts and visitors that are here all day, there’s no onsite food available except vending machines. We knew we needed to address this and who doesn’t love a good food truck?” expressed Deputy County Manager Tony McDowell.

“We were in a staff meeting trying to brainstorm a solution when Tony said, ‘Food Trucks.’ We liked the idea! The more we thought about it, we realized it truly helped everyone. It has been a difficult year for local food vendors, and we wanted to help these small, minority-owned businesses. Plus, it is a safe, outdoor, onsite food option for employees and visitors.” explained Deputy County Manager Monica Smith-Callahan, who is spearheading this venture.

“I reached out to the local Food Truck Association to see who would be interested in participating. We had several responses and will have wraps, pizza, vegan food, southern food, etc.- something different each week. The goal is to have two different genres to mitigate direct competition and to provide more variety. So far, we have had a lot of positive feedback so we will see how long this goes.” she stated.

Many employees have already taken advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the mobile cuisine while socializing with their coworkers. Greg Adams said he is “interested to see the rotation and try different food trucks!” “I love the idea! I usually bring my lunch, but this is a nice little treat! I hope they keep it up!” exclaimed Captain Kim Johnson of Henrico Police.

The exact schedule of the vendors is subject to change but, be on the lookout for the General Notice email each Monday with the menus and trucks for that week. If you have any recommendations for a vendor, please reach out to Monica Callahan-Smith ([email protected]).

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Smoke-Free Environment

We have all been told that smoking is bad for our health and the health of those around us. It is currently the leading cause of preventable death and is responsible for 480,000 deaths per year in the United States; including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. In keeping with Henrico County’s commitment to providing a safe and healthy work environment, as of August 1, Henrico’s Western and Eastern Government Centers are smoke‐free. According to the new policy, “County‐owned and County‐leased buildings over which the County Manager has control shall be smoke‐free, including private offices. For purposes of this policy, this also shall include County‐owned vehicles. The smoke-free designation also pertains to vaping, e-cigarettes, and other like devices.” Subsequently, designated smoking areas, including cigarette boxes, at these locations will be eliminated and new “Smoke-Free Environment” signage will be added.

Employees that do smoke are encouraged to consult a medical professional regarding tobacco cessation. There is no doubt that quitting smoking is difficult, but it is not impossible. It is estimated there are 45 million smokers in the U.S., but there are at least 48 million former smokers, and if they could do it, maybe you could join their ranks. Just remember, most people have to try to quit more than once, so don’t get discouraged if that is the case for you. Consider talking to your doctor about smoking cessation strategies that might be right for you or look into these resources offered to Henrico County Employees:

  1. Employee Health Services (EHS) is available to meet with employees individually to discuss smoking cessation strategies. If an employee prefers a prescribed cessation medication, they will be referred to their Primary Care Physician (PCP). Please contact EHS over the phone at (804) 501-1600 or stop by their office at 7740 Shrader Rd, Suite A, Henrico, VA 23228.
  2. Quit Now is a free service through the Virginia Department of Health that assists Virginians to quit smoking and using tobacco products. They can be contacted at 1(­800) ­784-8669, www.QuitNow.net/Virginia, or via a referral from Employee Health Services.
  3. Anthem members have access to cessation support services and benefits. Please visit anthem.com or reach out to the Human Resources Benefits Division at (804) 501-7371 or [email protected] for more information.
  4. The Employee Assistance Program through Optima Health offers My Life My Plan “Staying Healthy” a collection of self-paced at-home programs including a tobacco cessation program called “Get Off Your Butt: Stay Smokeless for Life” and additional resources.

It is your individual choice to quit smoking, but you do not have to do it alone! If you have questions or concerns regarding the new smoking policy, please contact John Neal at [email protected].

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