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.
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