ALBUQUERQUE ― Attorney General Hector Balderas is investigating reports of New Mexico teachers’ TEACH grants that have summarily been converted to loans by the U.S. Department of Education, and he is encouraging teachers in New Mexico who have been affected by this to contact his office.
Nationally, reports are that approximately a third of TEACH grants have been “converted” to loans without allowing teachers notice or time to correct even minor clerical errors in renewal paperwork. When a TEACH grant is converted to a loan, recipients have to repay the whole amount of grants received, with accrued interest dating from the original date of the grant.
“I am highly concerned that teachers who have committed themselves to serving our most vulnerable communities are having the terms of critical grant funds cancelled and
suddenly owe the federal government money,” Balderas said. “I will fight aggressively to ensure that teachers are protected so that they can do the important work of teaching our most vulnerable students.”
TEACH grants allow promising students to earn master’s degrees if they agree to teach math or science for four years in a high-poverty area. The TEACH grant recipients have eight years to fulfill their obligation to teach for four years in exchange for grants worth up to $4,000 per year. For many teachers, TEACH grant funding has made their education and training possible by reducing the amount of debt incurred for that education. Many teachers, who are actively fulfilling their responsibilities to teach in high poverty schools, are suddenly discovering that their grants are no longer in place—often based on minor clerical mistakes that the grant terms allow for correcting.
Cancellation of terms of agreements may mean fewer students can become teachers in New Mexico, where attracting qualified teachers to serve high poverty or otherwise underserved areas is already extremely difficult. As a result, fewer students in high-poverty schools will be taught by highly trained math and science teachers who have lost their grant funding.
To report a cancellation, a TEACH recipient can file an online complaint form at nmag.gov, or call 1.844.255.9210 toll-free-statewide.