Luria introduces legislation aimed at helping teachers get out of debt


FILE – In this April 15, 2019, file photo, instructors from Raphael House lead a classroom discussion about consent and healthy relationships with a class of sophomores at Central Catholic High School in Portland, Ore. Most young Americans believe in the value of higher education, but many also believe that a high school diploma alone is enough for success, and they view job training as better preparation than any type of college degree, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus, File)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach lawmaker has introduced new legislation aimed at helping teachers get out of debt.

Congresswoman Elaine Luria introduced the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Act on Friday. The bill would allow certain educators — those who teach math, science, and special education classes — to receive up to $30,000 in student loan forgiveness, while other teachers would be eligible for up to $15,000 in loan relief, according to a news release.

If passed, the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Act would expand on another bill passed in 1998 — the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. That program allows teachers to apply for up to $17,500 in student loan forgiveness, which is less debt than the average teacher takes on for their bachelor’s degree, the release states.

“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,” Luria said. “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.”

Kelly Walker, president of the Virginia Beach Education Association, said that the bill would greatly help educators who often graduate from college with large amounts of debt but find themselves being underpaid for their professional work.

“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,” Walker said.

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