State funding helps new teachers pay off college loan debt

State funding helps new teachers pay off college loan debt
State funding helps new teachers pay off college loan debt(WLBT)
Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 6:57 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - College students in education may not have to worry so much about that student loan bill if they are majoring in education.

The State Legislature is making sure new and first year teachers find their way into the classroom and out of debt.

“We’ve got to attract good, smart, young, energetic, committed young people into the teaching profession,” said State Senator David Blount.

The Mississippi lawmaker said the Winter Reed Loan Repayment Program is the way to do that and address the critical teacher shortage. House Bill 1179 passed this year giving new teachers funds to repay their student loan debt.

Up to 150 will receive the funding.

“They’re in college trying to make a decision about what they want to do for a career and many of them are thinking about the debt that they’re gonna have when they graduate college because college costs too much, and this is a way to address that debt and address that concern,” said Blount.

In critical teacher shortage areas, new educators could earn a maximum of $16,000 after three years. In other districts, the total is $7,500 in loan repayments after three years.

The funds are distributed through the Mississippi Office of State Financial Aid on a first come, first served basis.

“The Biden Administration just announced this week they will not continue the pause in repaying federal student loans,” said Policy and Planning Assistant Director Apryll Washington. “So come February, those loans will go back into repayment status. So for first year teachers we hope that this program offers them some financial relief.”

According to financial aid officials, Mississippi students graduate with an average of $30,000 in loan debt. There were 359 online applications for this first round.

The process opens each October first.

Payments will be paid to the educators loan provider. Teachers must provide a copy of their Mississippi Educators License and a copy of their employment contract.

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