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Teachers Would Lose Loan Forgiveness Programs in Higher Education Bill

We wrote about the GOP's new legislation to reauthorize the nation's higher education law last week. But there's one issue we should highlight that specifically impacts teachers.

The PROSPER Act would eliminate the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that currently allows for the cancellation of higher education debt —under certain conditions—for teachers, as well as others working for federal, state, and local governments. In addition, the bill would end loan forgiveness for teachers under the Perkins Loan Program, according to a summary of the bill from the American Council on Education, which tracks higher education policy. 

Under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, qualifying individuals can have their outstanding loans for higher education forgiven if they have made 120 qualifying monthly payments. People also have to be considered full-time employees by their organizations, or work at least 30 hours a week at their jobs. 

Ending loan forgiveness for public service isn't a new idea even for 2017: The Trump administration's proposed budget for fiscal 2018 would also eliminate the loan forgiveness program. But it could have a significant impact on many K-12 teachers who took out student loans. Earlier this year, the Education Department also cast some doubt on whether PSLF would cover some applicants to the program.  

The Perkins loan program allows for higher education debt to be forgiven—again, under certain circumstances—for teachers working at low-income schools, or for those who teach subjects like math and science. 

Republicans are expected to work to pass the PROSPER Act over the next year, although it's no sure thing to pass. 

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