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Loan Forgiveness For STEM Teachers? State Lawmaker Ready For Another Try

Tampa's Ed Narain wants to forgive student loan debt for STEM teachers.
Ed Uthman via Flickr

A Tampa lawmaker is trying to encourage college grads to consider a career in teaching.  The provision would forgive student loans for teachers in science and math.

Many college graduates are dragging a pile of debt along with them as they enter the workforce.  And some fear that burden is pushing talented men and women away from professions that have traditionally not paid very well—like teaching.  But Rep. Ed Narain (D-Tampa) has a plan he hopes will make a difference.

“I envision this as an individual puts in eight years of service with the state as a school teacher, and then their entire loans would be forgiven by the state,” Narain says.  “We would pick it up and just one-shot pay it all off.”

“In the meantime that student would need to make at least the minimum payments on their loans,” Narain goes on, “but after that eight year period we would call everything even.”

The bill currently has a ceiling of $16,000 per teacher.  Narain says he came to that figure after looking at the average debt students might have after leaving Florida’s public universities—the bill is currently limited to public school graduates.  And Narain says the measure has broader implications for the state economy.

“We have to look at how we’re going to diversify our economy both now and in the future,” Narain says.  “We can’t just be a service orientated, or a tourism only based state.”

He says encouraging recent grads to step into teaching could help train a new generation of students who will eventually create or fill high skilled jobs.  But Narain may face an uphill battle.  He filed an identical loan forgiveness bill that wasn’t able to gain any traction.

Nick Evans came to Tallahassee to pursue a masters in communications at Florida State University. He graduated in 2014, but not before picking up an internship at WFSU. While he worked on his degree Nick moved from intern, to part-timer, to full-time reporter. Before moving to Tallahassee, Nick lived in and around the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years. He listens to far too many podcasts and is a die-hard 49ers football fan. When Nick’s not at work he likes to cook, play music and read.