New Mexico offering $5 million in debt forgiveness to teachers



(The Center Square) – The New Mexico Higher Education Department is encouraging teachers with student loan debt to apply for debt forgiveness using the state’s Teacher Loan Repayment Program. The program is accepting applications until August 1.

Some New Mexico teachers are eligible for up to $6,000 per year for two years toward principal debt and interest on federal student loans related to teacher education.

The program provided student debt relief to more than 950 teachers last year, and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham approved $5 million for the program this year.

“The Teacher Loan Repayment Program is one of New Mexico’s most successful student debt relief programs and an essential tool for supporting our hardworking educators, who have chosen to further their education for the benefit of students. I thank Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for her continued commitment to supporting educators and we encourage all public K-12 teachers to consider applying for this amazing program,” Higher Education Secretary Stephanie M. Rodriguez said in a press release from HED.

Additionally, Lujan Grisham approved the $8 million for the Teacher Preparation Affordability Scholarship. It provides funding for students pursuing teaching degrees, including licensed teachers pursuing master’s degrees.

“As federal policy around student debt continues to be in flux, programs like New Mexico’s Teacher Loan Repayment Program are a critical lifeline for our educational professionals. We have been long-time supporters of any and all efforts to attract – and importantly retain – educators in our public schools. We congratulate Gov. Lujan Grisham and Secretary Rodriguez’s efforts and are excited to help support their continued successes in championing our educational professionals,” American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Whitney Holland said.

National Education Association New Mexico President Mary Parr-Sanchez said the programs immensely benefit teachers in New Mexico.

“Thanks to the Teacher Loan Repayment Program, hundreds of New Mexico teachers will experience relief from the financial burden of student loans this year,” Parr-Sanchez said in the release. “NEA New Mexico deeply appreciates the commitment of Gov. Lujan Grisham, the New Mexico Higher Education Department, and policymakers to ensuring that educators can focus on their most important job – teaching students.”

If the teacher fulfills the teaching commitment, the reward can be renewed for two-year cycles. The program gives preference to graduates of public colleges and universities in New Mexico, as well as “teachers from underrepresented backgrounds,” according to the release.

To be eligible for the program, teachers must be U.S. citizens, New Mexico residents for 12 or more consecutive months, hold a New Mexico teaching license, and have at least three years of teaching experience in New Mexico.

Priority will be given to teachers who work in the following areas, according to the release:

Bilingual educationEarly childhood educationSpecial educationScience, technology, engineering, or math (STEM)Career technical education (CTE)Teaching in a low-performing school serving economically disadvantaged populations (40% or more of students receiving free and reduced lunch)

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