Rep. Cole Introduces Legislation to Help Teachers Affected by Katrina
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole, along with members from Louisiana, introduced legislation last week, H.R. 3788 that would allow the Secretary of Education to waive the continuous service requirements of the Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program for teachers whose employment is interrupted by a major disaster. The "Teacher Loan Hurricane and Disaster Relief" bill will help teachers who lost their jobs because of Hurricane Katrina continue to participate in the Federal Teacher Loan Program, despite temporary loss of their job.
"This is a small provision that will have a huge impact on teachers in the Gulf Coast. This legislation will enable them to continue to participate in the Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program without penalty despite the requirement that you must remain employed for five consecutive years," Congressman Cole said. "Teachers should not be punished for an unavoidable natural disaster that leaves them temporarily without a job."
The Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program requires teachers to be full-time employees at a qualifying school for five complete and consecutive years to be eligible for loan forgiveness. This legislation would allow the Secretary of Education to waive the "consecutive" requirement for those affected by a natural disaster.
According to the Department of Education between FY2001 and FY2003, approximately $11 million in teacher loans were forgiven. However, Education Department projections indicate that between FY2005 and FY2014, as more teachers become eligible, over $1.6 billion in teacher loans will be forgiven. It is also estimated that this year almost 30,000 teachers will qualify for this loan forgiveness.
The Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program encourages individuals to enter and continue in the teaching profession. Under this program, individuals who teach full-time for five consecutive complete academic years in certain elementary and secondary schools that serve low-income families and meet other qualifications may be eligible for forgiveness of up to $5,000, and in some cases up to $17,500, in principal and interest of their Direct Loan and/or Federal Family Education Loan Programs (FFELP) loans and certain consolidation loans.