Legislation designed to establish a loan redemption program under which teachers could have a portion of their undergraduate loans forgiven by the state in exchange for work at a school in New Jersey was approved Monday by the state Senate Education Committee.
The bill (S-543) would create the New Jersey College Loans to Assist State Students (NJCLASS) Teacher Loan Redemption Program in the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority. The program would allow loan recipients to redeem 10 percent of their NJCLASS loan amounts for each year of service as a teacher in a school in New Jersey.
“Tasked with preparing the next generation of scientists, nurses and community leaders of our state, teachers have what is arguably the most difficult job there is,” Sen. Nia Gil (D-Essex), a co-sponsor, said. “But to become teachers, many of these individuals are forced to take on massive amounts of debt that will take years to pay off. We have to do everything we possibly can to attract and retain excellent teachers. A loan forgiveness program will serve as an incentive for our best and brightest to stay here after college and to choose a New Jersey school to start their careers.”
“This program will allow us to better support the teaching profession by helping to alleviate the financial burden of loans on those who have committed their lives to educating our children,” Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), the other co-sponsor, said. “It will also send a message to teachers that we recognize the tremendous responsibility they are given as educators and are grateful for their hard work.”
The measure was approved by a vote of 3-1-1. The bill now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for consideration.
—TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM