WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Reps. Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) and Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.) have reintroduced the Loan Forgiveness for Educators Act, which will expand the federal loan forgiveness program for educators.
This legislation helps to address educator shortages and increase children’s access to a diverse and well-prepared educator workforce by strengthening the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.
High college costs and student loan debt impact recruitment, retention, and diversity of the educator workforce. Yet, our country’s loan forgiveness program, specifically designed for educators – the Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF) Program – has not been significantly updated since 2004, causing outstanding student loan debt to increase by over $1.2 trillion– two-thirds of those who go into education take on debt.
The Loan Forgiveness for Educators Act updates the TLF program by having the federal government make monthly federal student loan payments for educators serving in early childhood education programs and high-need public schools and completely forgive any outstanding debt after five years of service. It would also allow service under this program to concurrently count toward the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
These changes will help to recruit and retain more educators and ensure more diverse candidates can afford comprehensive educator preparation programs, a key strategy to decrease shortages and help increase educator diversity in early childhood and K-12 education.
“By preparing students and giving them the tools for success, educators play an important role in classrooms,” Sen. Luján said. “The financial burden and high costs of education that educators face has created obstacles that led to the workforce shortages that we’ve seen in New Mexico and throughout the country. It’s critical that we work to alleviate these financial burdens by strengthening and expanding the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program to make becoming an educator more accessible and affordable. I’m proud to lead my colleagues in reintroducing this legislation that will help increase educator recruitment and retention and empower a more prepared and diverse workforce to educate our students.”
“My mother was a teacher, and she taught me that education is a miracle with the ability to empower our youth and lay the foundation of progress. That’s why I am excited to reintroduce the Loan Forgiveness for Educators Act to invest in teachers and our children’s future,” Rep. Leger Fernández said. “This bill will ease the financial burden of hard-working educators by forgiving student loan debt after 5 years of teaching. Serving our students shouldn’t require educators to take on excessive debt. Let’s show educators the respect they have earned and incentivize them to stay in New Mexico.”
“Like many educators, I relied on student loans to pursue my dream of becoming a teacher,” Rep. Hayes said. “I know the stress of worrying about making student loan payments on a teacher salary. As our country continues to navigate the economic impacts of the pandemic and as staffing shortages overwhelm our schools, we need robust federal programs to increase teacher retention and infuse the educator pipeline. I am pleased to join Senator Luján and Congresswoman Leger Fernández in leading legislation to improve the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program and provide much-needed financial relief so educators can stay in the classroom without the burden of lifelong debt.”
The Loan Forgiveness for Educators Act is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
The Loan Forgiveness for Educators Act is supported by 52 organizations: National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), National Indian Education Association (NIEA), National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), ZERO TO THREE, First Five Years Fund (FFYF), Early Care and Education Consortium (ECEC), National Migrant & Seasonal Head Start Association (NMSHSA), AASA, The School Superintendents Association, National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), National School Boards Association (NSBA), Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS), National Rural Education Association (NREA), Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), Teacher Salary Project (TSP), State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO), Early Edge California, National Urban League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Public Advocacy for Kids, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), Association of Educational Service Agencies (AESA), New Mexico Association for the Education of Young Children (NMAEYC), The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children (TED), Higher Education Consortium for Special Education (HECSE), Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), Southern Education Foundation, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), Teach Plus, All4Ed, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), The Education Trust, Latinos for Education, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), TEACH, National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), UnidosUS, Public Advocates, Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), Advance CTE, Council for Professional Recognition, Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO), Council for Opportunity in Education (COE), National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), and the National Association for Music Education (NAfME).