The student loan debt crisis is a hot topic across America from living rooms, where parents and students look for ways to pay for college, to the halls of Congress, where legislators work to manage the federal student loan programs.
A recent study, according to Forbes in May 2018, says only half of the students that started college in 1995-96 had paid off their federal student loans 20 years later. Shockingly, this group still carried about $10K in federal student loan debt.
The good news is certain STEM teaching jobs in Texas allow teachers to get a helping hand from the state in repaying their student loans, thanks to the Math and Science Scholars Loan Repayment Program.
What is the Math and Science Scholars Loan Repayment Program?
Administered by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Math and Science Scholars Loan Repayment Program was created to encourage math and science majors academic standouts to take up teaching in Texas public schools, especially in schools with a high percentage of low-income students.
Teachers accepted into the loan repayment program can receive funds from the state applied to their college loans. Initial enrollment into the program and the following three years of participation must be in a Title 1 Texas public school that qualify for federal funding under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
For the 2018-19 school year the Math and Science Scholars Loan Repayment Program has $1,287,500 available to hand out in approximately 250 awards with the maximum amount per teacher set at $5,000.
How Can a Teacher Qualify for The Loan Repayments?
The first step to qualifying for this loan repayment program is to demonstrate your academic achievement in math and science education.
Basic requirements include:
Completion of an undergraduate or graduate program in mathematics or science;
Earned a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 on a four-point scale or the equivalent, at the institution from which the teacher graduated.
Of course, you also have to be eligible to teach so you must be certified to teach math or science in Texas or hold a probationary teaching certificate for either subject. You can read here how to get a Texas teaching certificate.
The next step is to have an employment contract as a full-time teacher to teach math or science in a Title 1 school for the initial year of your application. In order to qualify for full-time teacher status your employment contract will have to call for an average of four hours of instruction per school day.
The final requirement is that you must be a U.S. Citizen to qualify for the program.
The Fine Print
While you must teach in a Title 1 school to be enrolled initially in the Math and Science Scholars Loan Repayment Program, you don’t have to spend all eight years at a Title 1 school to be part of the program.
After four years at a Title 1 Texas public school, science and math teachers can remain in the loan repayment program for four more years, as long as they teach at a Texas public school.
It should be noted that those teachers moving out of Title 1 schools after four years in the loan repayment program will receive lower annual awards than those remaining at Title 1 schools.
Annual loan repayment awards, which are contingent upon availability of funds, are disbursed directly to lenders following completion of each verified employment period.
Teachers that drop out of the Math and Science Scholars Loan Repayment Program at any time after their first completed year will not have to repay any awards contributed toward their loans.
To be eligible for this program the teacher can not have received other loan repayment assistance, federal or state, including a Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant.
The only catch to this "free money" is that the award given will be reported to the Internal Revenue Service.
Sign me Up!
Teachers don’t have a lot of time to enroll for the 2018-19 year as the deadline to turn in your application is Aug. 31, 2018.
Completed applications, including an official transcript from the institution from which they graduated, must be postmarked by the application deadline.
Click here for complete administrative rules and an application. Applicants must print and mail the PDF.
Math and science teachers that can take advantage of this program certainly won't have to worry about their student debt 20 years down the road.