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Hayes proposal fixes error that kept 1.3 million teachers from loan forgiveness

U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes (D-CT-05)
Molly Ingram
U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes (D-CT-05)

U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT) introduced legislation to help ensure that teachers with five years of classroom experience can qualify for certain loan forgiveness programs.

“Teachers across Connecticut are leaving the profession or are forced to take on second, or even third jobs in order to make ends meet and pay off debt,” Hayes said.

The bicameral Teacher Debt Relief Act was introduced alongside Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

“We want the best of the best for our children in our classrooms. This legislation sends a strong message that we value the hard work of our teachers and understand the challenges they face in the classroom and in their school districts every day. This bill will keep talented teachers in the classroom, and provide greater stability for our local school districts,” Stabenow said.

After five years of service, a teacher can qualify for both the Stafford Student Loan Forgivenessprogram, and the Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness program.

Hayes, a former high school teacher in Waterbury, Conn., said the bill could help relieve the nationwide teacher shortage by incentivizing more people to join the profession. The proposal would provide an additional relief to the 1.3 million teachers who are struggling to repay their loans. In 2023, nearly 9 in 10 public schools struggled to hire educators.

According to research by the National Education Association, in Connecticut, the average total student loan debt is more than $35,000.

Maya Duclay is a news intern at WSHU for the spring of 2024.