Mississippi seeks loan repayment for teachers

JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) – Mississippi could create a program that allows the state to pay off certain college loans to people who become teachers.

A bill that passed the Senate on Thursday would create a three-year loan repayment program. After a person completes a year of education, the state would pay a certain amount of the money the person borrowed for college. The state would pay more after the second year and more after the third year.

People who teach in areas deemed to have critical needs would receive higher payments.

Senate Bill 2305 was passed by a large majority. He will go to the House for more work.

Democratic Senator David Blount of Jackson said Mississippi has several programs designed to help fund college education for people who intend to become teachers.

“All of them are well intentioned, but none of them had been funded in recent years,” Blount said Thursday.

Some of the existing programs are “loan forgiveness” schemes, where people receive money while in college if they commit to becoming teachers. Blount said these can end with some people defaulting on payments and the state becoming a collection agency.

“People’s plans change, maybe they choose not to be a teacher, maybe they move to another state, maybe they teach for a year and decide they don’t want to anymore. teach, “Blount said.

With the new proposal, the state would make payments after someone has worked as a teacher. In areas with critical teacher needs, payment amounts would be $ 4,500 after year one, $ 5,500 after year two and $ 6,500 after year three. In other areas, the payment amounts would be $ 2,500 after the first year, $ 3,500 after the second year and $ 4,500 after the third year.

Critical needs areas have a large number of people teaching subjects in which they are not certified.

The loan repayment program is said to be named after the late former Democratic Governor William Winter, who pushed lawmakers to pass the Education Reform Act of 1982, and the late businessman of Tupelo Jack Reed, a friend of Winter who served on the first council of state. of education and who ran unsuccessfully for governor as a Republican in 1987.

Paying off the loan is one of many proposals to try to deal with a teacher shortage in Mississippi. The Senate passed a bill to increase teachers’ salaries last month, and it is awaiting consideration in the House.

Senators on Thursday also passed Senate Bill 2267, which would ease the process for people licensed to teach in other states to obtain a license to teach in Mississippi. The person will need to undergo a background check. The bill also goes to the House.

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