What Relief? How Student Loan Assistance Fails Teachers

Posted by Third Way on September 22, 2014

Teachers and their debt

A new brief from the Third Way finds current federal programs to aid teachers with student debt are confusing, underutilized, conflicting, and sometimes detrimental to the long-term finances of teachers who apply for them. To recruit and retain the best teachers, the brief argues for consolidation of programs into a single offer: If you teach, the federal government will pay your student loans, up front, every single month, until you leave the classroom. Currently, teachers must meet an unwieldy set of criteria to qualify for federal loan assistance. A patchwork bureaucracy, compounded by narrow eligibility requirements and delayed systems of forgiveness, all contribute to the limited reach and effectiveness of loan assistance programs today. The federal government should streamline teacher-specific loan assistance options into one program that would begin monthly loan payments for teachers on day one. Such a program would be more potent for luring high-achieving Millennials into the profession, particularly since the average loan payment for someone with a master’s degree in education is $429 a month (a $40k average salary). Until state budgets free up money to pay teachers higher salaries on the front end, offering teachers a supplemental monthly loan payment from the outset would serve as an immediate way for districts to boost teacher compensation.


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