Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02) introduced the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Improvement Act to help teachers receive additional student loan relief. This bill would increase the amount of student loan relief that certain teachers would be eligible to receive. If signed into law, this initiative would allow highly qualified teachers, which includes those who teach math, science, and special education classes, to be eligible for up to $30,000 in loan forgiveness and other teachers to be eligible for $15,000 in student loan relief.
“Our teachers are critical to equipping the next generation with the tools they need to succeed in their careers, so we must invest in their economic security,” said Congresswoman Luria. “Too often, teachers are forced to take on immense debt in order to begin their careers, which can discourage passionate individuals from entering the profession. During Teacher Appreciation Week, it is even more appropriate that we provide support to our educators. The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Improvement Act is a long overdue bill to address the rising levels of debt faced by teachers in Coastal Virginia.”
“There can be no better gift for teachers during teacher appreciation week! This important legislation, once passed, will go a long way to attract and retain quality educators to our profession,” said Kelly Walker, President of the Virginia Beach Education Association. “Since the Great Recession, it has been difficult to make ends meet on a teacher’s salary, especially for those who have just graduated from college with large amounts of school debt. Low pay, coupled with large amounts of college debt, have precluded teachers from buying houses, starting families, and saving for retirement. The teacher shortage is in large part due to the lack of incentives to join and stay in the profession. The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Act will go a long way to support teachers in our country.”
In 1998, Congress reauthorized the Higher Education Act (HEA) and created the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program. Unfortunately, this program has not kept up with the rising cost of higher education and the amount of student loan relief provided to teachers has not increased since the program was created. According to Forbes, more than two thirds of teachers take on an average of $20,000 in debt for a bachelor’s degree, but the amount of relief provided to teachers under this program has remained $17,500. This problem is exacerbated for educators who teach in low-income, high-need areas, where an individual’s salary can be significantly lower.