Appeals process for federal grant program gives Wayne County teacher hope

By CAITY COYNE

Charleston Gazette-Mail

Taylor Justice sits in her classroom at Ceredo-Kenova Elementary school.
(Gazette-Mail photo by Kenny Kemp)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — For the first time in two years, Taylor Justice, a Wayne County teacher, feels like her voice is being heard.

In 2016, she was one of thousands of teachers nationwide to have grants she received while attending college unknowingly converted to loans, through a program run by the United States Education Department. After a yearlong investigation by reporters at NPR, the Education Department announced last week it would be opening an appeals process for teachers like Justice, many of whom were saddled with the unexpected debt because of small clerical errors, like missing signatures on paperwork.

“I was, honestly, in tears when I read about [the chance for an appeal]. I’m talking thousands and thousands of dollars — this changes my life, my family’s life,” Justice said. “I just thought, ‘Finally.’ There have been so many people just like me. We spoke out for what was being wrongly done to us and people finally listened and were able to help us.”

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