Higher Education Department accepting loan repayment applications

The state of New Mexico Higher Education Department announced this week it is accepting applications for its 2022 Teacher Loan Repayment Program, which is designed to help pay off some of the burden of the federal student loans veteran teachers incurred paying for their education.

Higher Education Secretary Stephanie Rodriguez said in an interview on Thursday that this program, which began in 2001, increased since 2019 by $3 million and this year has a total of $5 million in the fund available for applicants.

Rodriguez said the program is for teachers who have taught in New Mexico schools for three years and plan to stay for another two years.

Students who are now attending college to become teachers can benefit from the New Mexico Opportunity and Lottery Scholarships, stated Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in the press release.

The Opportunity and Lottery Scholarships were not available at the time many veteran teachers went to college, the Secretary said.

An Opportunity Scholarship supplements the Lottery Scholarship, the release states. “By supplementing the Lottery Scholarship with the Opportunity Scholarship, students will pay no tuition or fees at any of the state’s 29 public institutions of higher education…”

“New Mexico licensed teachers working in high-need fields and schools

statewide may be eligible (through the Teacher Loan Repayment Program) for up to $6,000 per year for two years toward principal debt and interest on federal student loans related to teacher education,” the release states.

The Secretary said 105 teachers applied for the loan repayment program in Fiscal Year 2021 and 604 applied in FY 2022, 100 of which applied the year before.

New Mexico has one of the lowest college tuition rates in the country, Rodriguez said. To help teachers, the state increased its teacher salaries this year at level 1, 2 and 3 to $50,000, $60,000 and $70,000 a year. “(New Mexico) has one of the highest salaries (for teachers) in the region.”

“The Teacher Loan Repayment Program is a great move for helping highly trained teachers from all backgrounds enter and stay where they want to be – in the classroom,” Public Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus said in the release. “Between increased teacher salaries and teacher support programs like this one, this administration is working to ensure that educators are compensated for the essential contributions they make every day in our state.”

“The award can be renewed for additional two-year cycles if the recipient continues to fulfill the teaching commitment,” as stated in the release. “Preference is also given to teachers who graduated from a New Mexico college or university and teachers from underrepresented backgrounds. Teachers benefitting from the Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness program can simultaneously benefit from New Mexico’s program.”

“Program applications are due by 5 p.m. on Monday, August 1 and can be completed electronically via the New Mexico Higher Education

Department’s website at hed.state.nm.us,” the release states. “Teachers who are interested can also contact the agency via email at [email protected] or through a toll-free helpline at 1-800-279-9777.”

Show some Love^^