Public sector employees are a favorite punching bag when the legislators are looking to cut costs that won’t bite their wallets or voter margins. It’s a love/hate relationship that treads a fine line between getting support versus alienating constituents. The fact is that public sector employees like librarians, nurses, teachers, social workers, firefighters, cops, and even DMV employees are on the front lines of any community and get to see their friends and neighbors at our worst or our best. Teachers are faced with low salaries, long hours, and out of pocket expenses yet continue to do their jobs in the face of some very unreasonable expectations. At the moment, there are only the programs at the federal level to help Florida teachers obtain forgiveness for their loans, though there is a bill making its way through the legislature to institute a loan forgiveness program for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) teachers.
Eligibility of Student Loan Forgiveness for Florida Teachers
- Teacher at a Head Start program. (Does not apply to NDEA loans.)
- Teacher employed by a low income school that is eligible under Chapter 1 of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981.
- Special education teacher, teaching children and young people with disabilities. (May not apply in certain cases to Perkins or National Direct Loans made after 1992)
- STEM teacher, foreign languages or bilingual education teacher, or teaching in any subject determined at the state level to be critically understaffed.
- Teacher at Pre-K or child care program that provides educational services.
- Teaching in a institution of higher education, or an overseas Department of Defense elementary or secondary school. (Applies only to NDEA loans.)
- Faculty at a tribal college or university.
A recent study reported by the Brookings Institution noted that a loan forgiveness program and bonus in effect in Florida from 1984 to 2011/12 to staff areas in which there was a critical shortage of teachers was highly effective as a tool in teacher recruitment and retention. The funding was chopped by the legislature in 2002, and then repealed entirely in 2011, with a corresponding drop in recruitment and retention as teachers considered working conditions, the talent market for their skills, and programs available through the federal government and in other states. Perhaps most importantly for school districts everywhere, the private sector is using loan forgiveness as a benefit, attracting talented young people away from public service. Florida and other states need to smarten up, and not rely on the desperation of GenX, Millennials, and others to keep public services running smoothly as they pay off their debts.
If you are struggling with student loan debt, talk to an attorney at Van Horn Law Group to learn more about your options to reduce or possibly eliminate student loan debt.