Student Loan Debt Is Also Contributing To Virginia’s Teacher Shortage

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

Governor McAuliffe recently took emergency action because Virginia’s teacher shortage “is a growing crisis that we have to stop and reverse if we are serious about the commonwealth’s economic future.  High-quality teachers are the key to unlocking the potential in our children.”  Among other changes, the Governor wants to allow teachers to get into classrooms with a major in education that would not require a master’s degree.

Another way to deal with teacher shortages is to retain the teachers we already have.  One reason teachers leave is because of their student loan debt.  One big obstacle to teachers ability to pay their student loans:   For-profit companies called servicers handle the repayment of federal student loans. Borrowers rely on them for finding out about repayment options, enrolling in the various programs and keeping track of payments.  Unfortunately, many of these servicers are doing a very poor job.  Recently, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sued the nation’s largest student Loan servicer Navient for “failing borrowers at every stage of repayment”.

We would likely retain more teachers if they understood their rights under federal law.  For example, many teachers are eligible for lower monthly payments under the Income-Based Repayment program.  Unfortunately, servicers like Navient are steering borrowers away from this program into forbearance which is more profitable for them but can ruin a teacher’s financial future.

Virginia needs to help its teachers by forcing these student loan servicers to properly do their job.  Legislation will be introduced in the 2018 General Assembly to do this and VPLC will support it.



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