NPR conducted a survey of teachers to find out more about the problem of teachers with heavy student debt.
Teachers are paid significantly less than many other highly educated professionals. We decided to take a look at student debt among teachers specifically, because we see it as a crossroads of several big trends: chronic concerns over teacher pay amid calls to improve teacher quality; the rising cost of higher ed; the increasing reliance on loans to pay for it; and changing policies from the Trump administration.
Among the factors Kamenetz takes a closer look at are the many, confusing repayment options.
There are many programs designed to ease the heavy debt burden of teachers, whether for undergrad or graduate school. Some make payments more affordable; others forgive balances altogether.
While these programs help tens of thousands of teachers, the sheer number of options has become a problem in itself, according to the teachers we surveyed as well as some researchers.
“The way Congress works, nobody wanted to add to the existing programs” for teacher loan forgiveness, says Jason Delisle, a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “They wanted to create a new one.”
Delisle recently released a paper in the journal Education Next that calls the many student loan repayment plans for teachers “tangled” and “uncertain.”
Delisle’s paper, “The Tangled World of Teacher Debt: Clashing rules and uncertain benefits for federal student-loan subsidies,” is available on the Education Next website.
— Education Next