Student loan forgiveness for teachers

One of the disincentives in recruiting college graduates to become teachers is the mismatch between starting salaries and loan repayments. After all, who wants to take a job that pays so little and still be saddled with onerous monthly loan repayments?  That’s why the public service loan forgiveness program offers hope (“A Student Loan Fix for a Teacher, and Many Other Public Servants,” The New York Times, Mar. 30).  The rules are complex, but the payoff is worthwhile.

The program allows people working full time for qualified employers, which includes school districts, to apply for tax-free federal student loan forgiveness after 10 years of on-time payments. So far so good.  But much depends on two other conditions.  The loan has to be a direct loan from the government and the payment has to be income-based.  Perkins loans and Federal Family and Education Loans do not qualify.

There was a time when graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree could be done without going into hock.  But today, most families can’t afford the skyrocketing tuition.  As a result, students take out loans without giving enough thought to the terms and conditions.  I think it’s time to change the rules to make it easier for college graduates to make teaching a career.  They’ll never get rich doing so, but with the burden lifted off their shoulders they may be more attracted to the classroom.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)



4 Replies to “Student loan forgiveness for teachers”

  1. Probably better than nothing, but the format — pay for 10 yrs and then perhaps get the balance forgiven — sounds overly complicated and, as the NYT article explains, lots can go wrong during those 10 yrs.

    Wish that the feds and/or some states would create an income-based college tuition program rather than a loan program — that is, the student attends college, pays no tuition while in college, and then pays x% of his/her taxable income each year for the rest of his/her life (perhaps via the student’s annual federal income tax return with the feds collecting the $ and rebating the $ to each participating state); might have some total-amount or total-years cutoff. The “x%” could vary based on what the tuition is. The feds or the state would pay the student’s tuition to the college while the student was attending the college. This approach would encourage college graduates to consider lower-paying jobs while avoiding the complexities/uncertainties of the student-loan-forgiveness programs.


  2. Labor Lawyer: The loan forgiveness program is indeed extremely complicated. Perhaps it can be simplified by allowing graduates who work in stipulated fields to have their tuition loans forgiven. Even that is not ideal, but it seems fairer than what we have today. I still don’t fully understand why tuition has skyrocketed. All the more reason to consider enrolling in community colleges for two years to earn an associates degree.


  3. I am a little confused with the value of this program. Many student loans are paid off in 10 years and teachers make their lowest pay during these years. Where I am in Florida, teachers do not get a raise in their first 6 years. It takes them 30 years to get to their maximum pay of approximately $60,000.
    I believe forgiving a year of payments for each year of teaching would be a better idea.
    Another thought would be to allow students to go to community colleges for a pre-education degree(licensed aide). After completing the two years, they could continue at a state school for their bachelor degree. I think a linking of community colleges and state colleges could be big benefit to future teachers.


  4. John: I still believe that community college is the best deal for most students. Too many enroll in a four-year school, assume huge debt and graduate with a degree that is not marketable. Short of that, then I like your idea of forgiving one year of payment for each year of teaching. As things stand, tuition is overwhelming.


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