Student loans saddle educators with lifetime of debt

A new NEA report, Student Loan Debt Among Educators: A National Crisis, shows that 45 percent of educators have taken out a student loan, with the average total amount standing at $55,800. Black educators took on significantly more debt than other racial and ethnic groups, with an average initial total of $68,300 compared to $54,300 for Whites and $56,400 for Hispanics. “The cost of college imposes a ‘teacher penalty’ on educators, saddling them with a lifetime of debt before they even enter the classroom,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “This illuminating research highlights the urgent need for the Department of Education to immediately forgive all outstanding debt for educators with 10 or more years of experience as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program was designed to do.”

108 responses to “Student loans saddle educators with lifetime of debt

  1. I have been trying to pay off my student loans for the past 20 years. It has been a great financial burden for my family. Especially being a 10 month employee with very little pay increases over the years. I haven’t been able to meet the 150 required payments to be eligible for the PSLF benefit. It’s very discouraging.

  2. I’ve struggled with student loan debt for years. I was told that I didn’t qualify for Teacher Loan Forgiveness because of the age of my loans. I’ve been participating in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program but feel like I’m never going to get from under this weight. I was a single parent of 4 and have taught in the same low-income school system for 21 years. I’ve been very responsible with making payments (some years working as many as 4 part-time jobs while teaching full-time trying to make ends meet) and filling out forms or making calls trying to get some assistance with this burden. It pains me to know that no matter how far I’ve gone, there is still so much farther to go before I will finally be done with the payback process IF that ever happens. I have nothing in savings and can’t even imagine what retirement might look like. I am proud to be an educator but often wonder if I would be facing these same struggles had I chosen a different path.

  3. I have taught for 27 years. I have worked in Title1 schools for the majority of my teaching career. As an educator, I have always believed that I should stay current and relevant for the students.
    I have my doctorate degree and I have 80K+ in student loans. I am 61 and can not retire until I have my loans paid.
    Currently, I teach science to middle schoolers. Teachers bare the responsibility of purchasing most, if not all, of their materials and can only claim a small amount to write off of their taxes.
    Please help relieve student loan debt of educators, it would greatly help the educators that are struggling to stay up to date and that are servicing the most important people in society, our children.

  4. I am a 66 year old English Speaker of Other Languages teacher who teaches in a Title 1 elementary school. It is a career change for me from the corporate world and it has been a positive change. What I do now, matters.

    My concern is that I will be retiring in a year or two and my student loan debt for my Master’s degree is a debt that will be difficult or impossible to pay once I retire. How is it that teaching children English is NOT considered a critical need area in an under resourced community? Science and math are critical need areas but if these children can’t speak English and read how will they be able to learn science and math word problems as well? Bilingualism is a critical in this ever changing world and you need educators like myself to help these students prosper and grow.

    It isn’t fair that the teachers that help educate them be burdened with excessive student loan interest rates and debt.

  5. Like others, I have paid on my student loans as required. I finished graduate school in 1999. I began working toward PSLF in 2007. In 2017, when I sent my final forgiveness form to FedLoan, I was denied. The miscount and recount and zillions of letters, phone calls, emails, chats, etc., I have had with FedLoan have all been to no avail. My former servicer was ACS, then EdFinancial. None of my payment records or amounts are reflected accurately. Also, I have taught college at a State college (University of Maryland Global College) since 2001. I have also taught, in conjunction with UMGC, at several other colleges in order to stay afloat financially, pay my student loans, and work toward PSLF. Some years I have been full time. Other years I have been an adjunct at two or three colleges at a time. Still, I cannot get to PSLF. The forms, the system, the records–everything about PSLF is a fail. I have worked in public service since 1999. My students are predominately active duty US military. I taught for UMGC for three years in South Korea, in Afghanistan, Qatar, and Germany. All on US Military bases. I was in Afghanistan in 2009 (FOB Salerno and Bagram Air Field) All students were US military. Today, my student loans are $197,000.00. Please help us. Thank you.

  6. Have a heart! We will not be able to get dedicated educators if they realize they won’t be able to afford a teaching career. We need educators from all different backgrounds, nationalities, and races. We need educators who really care about their students…all of them.

  7. I am 70 years old and owe 156,00.00 in student loan debt. Education made my life worst off. I am low income Black, Woman in America. I need student forgiveness. I have no one to help me. I believed that if you had a Masters degree and worked hard, the pay would be a given. Not true, just deeper in debt. I have never had a vacation, how could I? I am always behind in the water bill, phone, Public Service, etc.

  8. I have well paid over and over for my service as a teacher for my community, country and world. Please initiate 10 year service as the amount paid in services. I also am teaching a life skill of agriculture

  9. I am almost 72 years old and have $26,000 in student loans that has nearly doubled by penalties and interest. An unanticipated divorce and retirement caused my loan to go into default. Before the pandemic, $180 was being deducted from my monthly Social Security check as garnishment. I taught 9 years in a Title One school, but when I applied for loan forgiveness I was told the Apple Grant program had run out of money.

    Forgiving this debt would relieve my biggest financial concern for the future. Deductions are scheduled to begin in September, and I lost my post-retirement part-time job due to Covid, so money will be tight.

    Please consider forgiving the first $50,000 of student loan debt for all.

    Thank you.

  10. Good afternoon,
    It is coming up on 20 years of paying back student loans. I have actually paid back the amount I originally borrowed at $483.00 per month for 19 years and eight months… and when payments resume, I will have to continue to pay the remaining interest balance. I wasn’t in the correct repayment plan or else would have qualified for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

  11. Student loans were suppose to be forgiven years ago for educators that worked in a Title One school for 5 years. It was also loan forgiveness for firemen. When you apply for this loan forgiveness with any lender they do not accept you and do not give the forgiveness. So they have robbed us of our loan forgiveness. They have only given out 1% to the thousands of people that have applied. Malcolm Gladwell has done a story on this. We were robbed.

  12. Something has to be done. Educators are juggling horrendous student loan debt with no opportunities to make increase our salary. The salary of a teacher cannot absorb the interest and principle of the loan. Help

  13. In 2015 I took out a Parent Plus Federal loan for my daughter’s university education (she is also paying on a student loan in her name.) Since then, my husband died and my father died and I’m a caregiver for my elderly mother. I’ve taught school over 30 years and will be retiring in a couple more years. My ability to pay off the loan is greatly reduced since I’ll be on a fixed income after retirement and I have little assets. I want to honor my debt, but any help/government aid would greatly be appreciated and would help my quality of life improve. This financial pressure is a heavy load to bear alone.

  14. We are a family of educators with almost 100 years of service. The young generation can’t start saving for their home because of the debt they have with student loans. Please help!

  15. Educators, (in both public and private schools) are burdened with student loan debit and then turn around and use their already limited incomes to finance their classrooms for their students. Student loan forgiveness would help to increase teachers ability to perform better in and out of the classroom.

  16. My son is a teacher of science and math in high school and has had student debt as long as he has been teaching 25 years. It’s a heavy burden for a family man. His wife also works. He has two daughters. It’s time to have student loan forgiveness for teachers.

  17. Please forgive up to $50,000 college student loans for lower and middle income students.
    I am over seven years old and a Vietnam veteran.
    Please forgive my student loan.
    Not only will it benefit millions of students with student college loan debt but that money will be used to save, invest or buy ticket big ticket items which will then create thousands of new jobs. This will be an economic stimulus to our economy. Thank you, Donald Leisman

    1. Student loans are taking a large percentage of my income. With this past years events I have depleted any savings I had. This is a hardship that I never should have gotten in, however it did help me become a productive person that is working. Please help.

  18. Continuing my education, so I could continue to grow as an educator has continued to add more debt to my student loan. Our profession is one of few that requires us to continue our education to learn best practices, but the classes or trainings are not provided for us. At this rate, I won’t be able to pay back my student loans before I die which means my kids will be left with this burden even though I am constantly working to chip away at what I can. It won’t be enough.

  19. I have been an educator for 14 years. In order to even make enough to afford to pay my bills I had to go back and get a masters degree. I have almost $80,000 in student loan debt that I don’t know if I’ll ever pay off. I pay close to $900 a month in student loan bills and it’s ridiculous.

  20. I’m 64 years-old and still have over $30K of student loans to repay. I can’t retire and I need student loan forgiveness.

  21. The only way my debt will end is with my death. Death does not look too bad now, it will look even better in 10 years .

  22. I didn’t have to repay my defense loans because I had the opportunity to work it off by teaching in poverty areas. Also, my loan was not interest bearing while I was in school. A return to repay through public service should be given to all students.

  23. I have taught for 25 years. I have always been in a low income, Title I school. I have a M.Ed., National Board Certified, Reading Endorsement, ECE Endorsement, Reading Recovery Trained. I currently owe $190,000 in student loans. My loans are almost 4x the amount they originally were. None of the payments I previously made prior to changing to Fed Loan Services counted toward my PSLF. For many years I could not afford to pay these loans as a single mom with two kids and a high interest rate. It’s only been in the last two years of teaching, with the grassroots push back from teachers to earn a livable, professional wage, that I finally started to earn a decent wage. I have fallen through every single crack of having any of my loans forgiven. The only thing I can do is continue to try to pay a high payment toward PSLF. I still have 6 years left. At the VERY LEAST I want all the interest I’ve had to pay backed off of my loans back to the beginning. I believe, however, teachers who have given their lives to this profession deserve to have these loans forgiven. Others who are new to the profession or are in other PS careers have this option. We don’t. It’s not right. This has been a tremendous stress my entire adult life and has kept me from many things, experiences, and savings toward retirement other professions have been able to have. I don’t even know when I will ever be able to retire because I can’t put much in retirement with all this student loan debt. If my loans do not get forgiven, then at the very least payments should be capped at a small percentage or fixed low amount for 10 years and then automatically forgiven without all this application paperwork. I should not have payments of10% on an IDR – because with this much debt, the payment is still too high and continues to go up. It is just not right or equitable. How is this equal educational opportunity no matter what the race, ethnic background, religion, or sex, or whether they are rich or poor, citizen or non-citizen? It’s not.

  24. I have been a professional, I have been an educator, I had to go back to the for profit sector to make ends meet, meanwhile my student loans compound interest at 8% and have grown to a half million dollars worth of debt as I approach retirement age. Paying the full amount of payments would be 3k plus per month, I don’t bring that much home. I am grateful for percentage of income plans, but even so, I can’t save anything for retirement and pay debts and still afford to live. There has to be a way out other than just dying.

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