Student loan relief for teachers? Bill would cancel debt to address teacher shortage

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ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Attention teachers – even more student loan forgiveness could be on the way, thanks to a new bill.

Under a bill co-drafted by Senator Ben Ray Luján and Representative Teresa Leger Fernández, the federal government will make monthly student loan payments to teachers who work in preschool programs and schools. public in need. After five years, all of their student loans will be forgiven.

“It will be another tool to make sure that we keep teachers in the classroom, we can retain them and attract them to beautiful places like New Mexico,” Senator Luján said.

There is still a shortage of teachers in New Mexico. The largest school district, Albuquerque Public Schools, has more than 600 openings. Since the pandemic, many teachers are leaving the profession for better paying jobs.

This new legislation seeks to change that.

“This legislation came from the direct hearing of young teachers. The saddle they often wear is high student debt and many educators will look to other fields to see what they can do to address that debt,” Luján said.

According to a study by the Learning Policy Institute, most teachers have between $20,000 and $50,000 in student debt. On average, educators earn about 24% less than other jobs, right out of college.

“Looking at the statistics and looking at the number of teachers working in our schools, a high percentage still hold high student loans. The idea here is how to incentivize teachers to stay longer in our communities and, on the other side, reward them for this work,” Luján said.

Local teachers’ unions also express support for the bill

“I always look at this through the prism of are we hiring new teachers? Will it bring people into our profession? And I think that will remove additional barriers and bring teachers into the classroom and get our education programs back to where they need to be, which is at full capacity,” said the president of the ‘AFT Union, Whitney Holland.

With the promise of loan forgiveness, they hope to reach that capacity sooner and keep educators in the classroom.

“I think it kind of equates to the playground for our educators,” Holland added.

Some student loan forgiveness programs are already in place. The new 2022 Loan Forgiveness for Educators Act does not replace these programs, but will expand them so that more teachers can apply for loan forgiveness.

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