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Teacher Loan Forgiveness an Ineffective Incentive

empty classroom with student desks

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness program offered by the federal government is a current incentive for individuals to enter and remain in the teaching profession.     

New research from the National Bureau of Economic Research reports that the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness program is not attracting or retaining teachers as intended. In theory, a teacher loan forgiveness program should be an enticing incentive since many teachers carry student loan debt. Depending on the subject taught, educators could receive up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness from the government.

Teacher loan forgiveness applies to educators who teach for five consecutive years in a low- or moderate-income school. To receive the benefit, educators must be aware of the program, meet the eligibility standards, get a school administrator to submit paperwork, and work with their loan provider to enroll. Unfortunately, researchers report the complexity of the program limits its reach, and few teachers take advantage of the program each year.

Researchers speculate reasons the program has not been effective:

  • Many teachers are not aware of the details; one survey reports only 38 percent of teachers with loan debt were very aware of the program rules.
  • Guidelines are unclear and hard to find making it be difficult to navigate the program.
  • Some teachers expressed distrust in the program and felt it was too good to be true.

The Department of Education noted that it “…is working on ways to raise awareness among current and incoming students and among potentially eligible borrowers who have already entered the workforce.”

For more information, check out the Chalkbeat article Teacher loan forgiveness, one national strategy for solving educator shortages, isn’t working. To learn more about the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Teacher Loan Forgiveness webpage.

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Sarah James
Sarah James
Communications Specialist

Sarah James joined HR Services in 2019. Prior to that, she worked at a Central Texas school district for 11 years. She is responsible for managing web content, HR Services articles, HRX newsletter, social media accounts, and marketing efforts.

James has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Concordia University Texas in Austin.

Email Sarah if you have a story idea for the HRX.

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