MN clears way for one-of-a-kind teacher loan forgiveness law


by Félix Pérez

Minnesota teachers are eligible for student loan forgiveness of $1,000 each year, up to $5,000 over five years. The program, passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor last month, is reportedly the first such tax credit in the nation.

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“We think this tax credit is a great foundation to build on in the future. We also believe this is the first tax credit like this in the nation,” said a statement issued by Education Minnesota, which represents 70,000 educators who work in pre-K-12 schools and higher education institutions. “The work that members of Education Minnesota put into the 2016 legislative session to advocate for student debt relief resulted in some important changes.”

Designed to address statewide teacher shortages and attract and retain teachers both in certain geographic areas and specific subject areas, the program requires that teachers be licensed by the state. All federal, state, private, commercial and consolidated loans used for tuition and other expenses related to living and teacher preparation are eligible. The 2015-2016 application deadline is June 30.

“Minnesota schools are finding it increasingly difficult to attract and retain teachers both in certain geographic areas and some subject areas, such as special education, math and science,” said Larry Pogemiller, commissioner of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, which manages the program. “By helping with student loan payments, this program may encourage some teachers to consider working in one of the designated shortage areas.”

Said Megan FitzGibbon, who heads the loan forgiveness program,“This is kind of a different program for our agency to do. It could be a way to recruit new people into the teaching profession or into particular disciplines of teaching, and at the same time, current teachers who may be considering whether they’re going to continue teaching. This may be a way to retain them.”

The program was signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton. Dayton was awarded America’s Greatest Education Governor Award in 2012 by the National Education Association.

Reader Comments

  1. That’s a nice start for student loan forgiveness but the maximum amount should be much more. Doctors can have their entire medical school bill erased by working in a high need /poverty area. Teachers should be afforded the same option since we save lives as well.

  2. Have a nice day. When I took out the loan my tuition was low. Palm Beach County Schools, however, refused to designate the Glades Area, which is definitely low income area and miles to get to driving a low income area for the 1,000 a year forgiveness. It was super ridiculous.

    Many times, I had to pay for something a parent’s child could simply not afford. The 25,000 miles on a car each year really did add up. Meant no vacation.Then, you hear someone like one of these guys griping about a pittance of help a teacher would get. Bet their childen got the benefit of a teacher digging in their own pocket book for his/her room. Give it a break, these kids would NEVER GET EDUCATED if it goes on like this, n you wanna nickel n dime as teacher who’s strapped to the hilt causa under pay?¿ BAH, HUMBUG!!!!¡¡¡¡¡

  3. Actually, the federal government already has that program. I had $5,000 of my student loans forgiven because I work in a school that has Title I status.

  4. Why is everything about profit in this country? We need educated leaders who are able to work while supporting their families, not those who have incurred a lifetime of debt for the privilege. Free Education for All.

    1. Profit? Without profit you get 1970’s USSR, no tax money, government control of most everything and in general a miserable existence for everyone; socialism.

  5. Wasn’t it the Minnesota governor and legislature that gutted the teacher union law a couple of years ago? And now the state has a teacher retention and shortage problem? I wonder if those two conditions are related? Has anyone looked for correlation or causation? Just saying… take away benefits and security and it may get harder to attract and retain employees….

  6. Massachusetts had a program similar to this, back in 1995. You could receive up to $5000 in student loan forgiveness but you had to work in a school that meet eligibility requirements. Five thousand dollars was a significant amount of money in 1995, representing about one-fifth of a first-year teacher’s salary or about one semester’s worth of tuition at a public four-year college.

  7. Amazing, free? Even a 1 large give away is disgusting. You took the loan with a good faith agreement to repay. Why do tax payers have to cover people who do not want to honor their commitments? Good example for students: make a commitment then do not honor it. Disgusting.

    1. I think you missed the point of the incentive. The state seems to be trying to attract people into teaching, not bail out someone with credit card debt or an upside down mortgage.

      1. Actually I am a USMC veteran who was prepared to die so lazy slobs can take loans and t hen not repay them. I am a tax payer who worked for everything I have .

    2. I REALLY am trying not to get into a battle by replying but I feel the need to respond. As a teacher for over 20 years I can say that the MN loan forgiveness is a very small reversal on the “tax payers” continued lack of commitment to education and teachers in general. I did not go into teaching to make money but when my take home salary goes down 4 of the last 6 years when the economy is improving to lower taxes, I would say the refusal to honor commitments is on legislators and the people who voted the in. Stop cutting my salary and giving me a $1000 insurance deductible and then we can stay away from loan forgiveness (which does not help me BTW as my undergrad loans are paid).

    3. Hey not free just helping cut down the exorbitant rise in tuition that does not coincide with so many other sectors of the economy.

    4. Loans are taken out based upon salary guides. Then districts take three to four years to sign the next contract and within those three to four years two years are without a step up for longevity or a salary increment. On top of that charges for health benefits escalate so your net income decreases. Meanwhile due to your acceptance of the position as almost a ministry catering to the needs of your and occasional requirements of their families, you voluntarily take on additional expenses. It took me over 10 years to reach the private sector salary I had had. We would love to honor those commitments, but now we even have those that don’t want to reimburse teachers for those allotments taken from our salaries for our own pensions. Where’s the equity in that?

  8. I JUST DONT GET IT. Everybody acts like its the second coming when they get $1,000 taken off their $30,000 school loan, ONLY is they qualify. How stupid do you think we are? Im only going to say this once. Higher education, like high school, MUST BE ABSOLUTELY FREE like it is in other countries, with students getting a living stipend if they need it for food and rent. The US is the most backward country in the world, and everybody acts like they are living in Utopia. Look out the window sometime and get a whiff of reality, and stop writing nonsense.

    1. Which countries are you talking about that have free college education? Did you compare the tax burden that those countries pay in order to get that “free” education? Is that “free” education available equally to ALL students or only a select part of the population?
      The US is far from being “the most backward country in the world”
      I would say a backward country is one without a functioning government, one which lacks human rights, little or no access to health care, etc. Can’t you think of places in the world that meets those conditions?
      Universal, free education in the US was NOT common in the US until the late 1800s/early 1900s. Even then, most people didn’t need to finish high school in order to work on a farm or in a factory.

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