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Teacher loan repayment program open for applications

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Applications are open for teachers with educational loans to apply for repayment help from the New Mexico Department of Higher Education.

Teachers can apply through the Department of Higher Education for the loan forgiveness, which grants $6,000 a year, for two years. The process is renewable and previous participants can reapply.

Higher Education Secretary Stephanie Rodriguez told KUNM the program helps teachers and helps the economy.

“The goal is is to get veteran teachers that relief,” she said, “so that they're actually spending their salaries on their families and then the economy as opposed to their loan repayments.”

Last year, she said, a record 604 teachers applied, and extra money was assigned so everyone eligible could get help. Those recipients had an average debt of around $48,000 each.

New Mexico has a shortfall of teachers, with as many as 1,000 positions unfilled. Many teachers take on second jobs. The state is trying to improve the situation, including with a significant pay raise earlier this year.

To be eligible for this loan relief program, teachers must be working in a high-need position like early or special education, or teaching science, technology, engineering and math. But Rodriguez says the criteria are broad.

“Even if you don't think you're eligible - apply, maybe you're eligible,” she said.

Applications are open until August 1.

This coverage was made possible by the WK Kellogg foundation and KUNM listeners

Alice Fordham joined the news team in 2022 after a career as an international correspondent, reporting for NPR from the Middle East and later Latin America and Europe. She also worked as a podcast producer for The Economist among other outlets, and tries to meld a love of sound and storytelling with solid reporting on the community. She grew up in the U.K. and has a small jar of Marmite in her kitchen for emergencies.
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