Applications are open to teachers with college loans to apply for repayment assistance from the New Mexico Department of Higher Education.
Teachers can apply via the Department of Higher Education for loan forgiveness, which grants $6,000 per 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 to get this relief for veteran teachers,” she said, “so that they actually spend their salaries on their families and then on the economy, as opposed to paying off their loans. “
Last year, she said, a record 604 teachers applied and additional funds were allocated so that all eligible people could get help. These beneficiaries had an average debt of approximately $48,000 each.
New Mexico is short of teachers, with up to 1,000 stations empty. Many teachers have second jobs. The state is trying to improve the situation, including with a significant salary increase earlier this year.
To be eligible for this loan relief program, teachers must be in a high-needs position, such as preschool 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, you may be eligible,” she said.
Applications are open until August 1.
This coverage was made possible by the WK Kellogg foundation and KUNM listeners