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Nebraska eyes loan forgiveness program for teacher shortage

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Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 4:45 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska school leaders asked state lawmakers on Tuesday to create a student-loan forgiveness program to help nudge more people into the profession, which has suffered major losses during the pandemic.

Members of the Legislature’s Education Committee reviewed multiple bills that would forgive up to $30,000 in student loans for teachers who agree to work in a Nebraska school. Like many states, Nebraska saw many experienced teachers retire early during the pandemic amid the stress of remote learning and possible in-class exposure to the coronavirus.

“This has been a problem before the pandemic, but the pandemic exacerbated it,” said Sen. Wendy DeBoer, of Bennington, who sponsored a measure that would forgive up to $6,000 a year, with a $30,000, five-year maximum.

DeBoer said the measure would encourage education students to stay in Nebraska after finishing college and help offset low starting salaries for new teachers. She said the proposal was intended to help both public and private school teachers. She noted that Nebraska already has a similar forgiveness program for rural doctors.

The federal government also offers loan forgiveness for certain teachers who spend at least five years in a low-income school or educational service agency, and states including Connecticut, Illinois, Oklahoma and Missouri do as well. Neighboring Iowa has created a down payment program to help educators buy a house, in hopes that will persuade them to remain in the state.

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