Record Number Of Teachers In New Mexico Supported Under Debt Relief Program Administered By Higher Education Dept.

NMHED news:

SANTA FE – The student debt burden of more than 600 New Mexico teachers will be relieved thanks to the state teacher loan repayment program managed by the New Mexico Department of Higher Education.

The Teacher Loan Repayment Program pays up to $6,000 annually for two years in order to pay outstanding federal student loan debt and interest to licensed New Mexico teachers who work in high-need districts and schools.

The agency received nearly 500 new applications for the program in 2021, three times the number of applicants in 2020. Awards will also be renewed for another 140 recipients from last year. The department has submitted a budget adjustment request to the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration to ensure that all eligible applicants can benefit from the program this year and is seeking $5 million to fully fund applicants in fiscal year 23.

“Whether you’re a veteran teacher still paying off debt, or a recent high school graduate interested in a teaching career in New Mexico, our teacher loan and scholarship repayment programs are essential in supporting the entry of New Mexicans into the teaching profession and in addressing shortages across our country,” said Minister Higher Education Stephanie Rodriguez “We are working alongside Governor Lujan Grisham, our sister education agencies and our legislators to ensure that these programs are supported at a level that reflects the needs of today’s New Mexico workforce while supporting teachers.”

“The teacher loan repayment program tells New Mexicans who want a job in the classroom that we want to help you get there,” Public Education Minister Kurt Steinhaus said. “We have a serious shortage of well-trained teachers in New Mexico and across the country, so a program like this that paves the way to the classroom is a wonderful step, and we are grateful to Governor Logan Grisham and the legislature for their support.”

“Early childhood educators play an important role in ensuring that the youngest learners in our state have access to a kindergarten that is equipped with the cognitive, language, social and emotional skills they need to succeed,” said Elizabeth Grojinski, Secretary of the Department of Early Childhood Education and Care. “We urgently need more early childhood teachers to teach and care for young children in New Mexico, and reducing student loan burdens is a great way to improve retention and attract new people into the profession.”

Beneficiary teachers work in high-need fields, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), technical vocational education, bilingual education, early childhood education, special education, and those who teach in schools with free and reduced lunch programs. Recipients also agree to a two-year teaching commitment while benefiting from the program and can apply for award renewal every two years if they continue to meet the eligibility criteria. Preference is also given to teachers who have graduated from a college or university in New Mexico and to teachers from historically underrepresented groups.

“Initiatives such as the Teacher Loan Repayment Program are an important tool not only for hiring teachers in our profession, but also for retaining our veteran teachers. We are excited to deepen our engagement with Secretary Rodriguez and the New Mexico Department of Higher Education to ensure that all teachers in New Mexico take full advantage of loan reduction opportunities. students and help ease the stress of America’s student debt crisis,” said American Federation of New Mexico President Whitney Holland.

“We represent thousands of teachers across the state, and we are thrilled to see such a significant increase in the number of applying teachers,” said Mary Barr Sanchez, president of the National Education Association of New Mexico. “We know that helping to take the financial burden off teachers is very important given all the hardships students and teachers have been through during this pandemic. We want to do everything we can as a country to attract and retain quality teachers so that our students are not left behind.”

The Teacher Loan Repayment Program has been a lifeline for veteran teachers who earned degrees before the New Mexico Lottery and other opportunity and scholarships became available for state teachers, and those pursuing advanced degrees. This year’s beneficiaries represent 66 public school districts across the state. The average debt held by teachers participating in the program this year was more than $48,000.

Jackie Reddy is a special education teacher at Animas Elementary School in Farmington who has been in the profession for 21 years and has over $100,000 of outstanding student loan debt. Reddy started her degree in her late twenties, moved from another state, and was not eligible for the New Mexico Lottery scholarship. After getting the maximum benefit from the Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, the New Mexico Teacher Loan Repayment Program was her only option.

“Special education is my passion, but I am a single mother with a severely disabled child, and any portion of my salary that does not go to loans goes to his care and home expenses,” Reddy said. . “It means I can finally focus on that and do some home repairs that have been needed for years.”

In addition to the Teacher Loan Repayment Program, the New Mexico Department of Higher Education manages the affordability of teacher preparation and grows your teacher scholarships, which supports students actively pursuing degrees leading to teacher licensure at any public or tribal college or university in New Mexico. .

Students can combine these scholarships with the New Mexico Opportunity and Lottery Scholarships to pursue degrees in debt-free teacher education. Increased funding for each of these programs is included in the FY23 Higher Education Budget Request, which was submitted to the Legislative Finance and Education Study Committees this month.

To learn more about the many programs available to educators and all new Mexicans to attend college without debt, visit

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