NMHED NEWS RELEASE
The New Mexico Higher Education Department is encouraging teachers with outstanding student loans to apply for debt forgiveness through the state’s Teacher Loan Repayment Program, which is now accepting applications until Aug. 1.
New Mexico licensed teachers working in high-need fields and schools statewide may be eligible for up to $6,000 per year for two years toward principal debt and interest on federal student loans related to teacher education.
The program received a record number of applications last year for the second year in a row, resulting in more than 950 New Mexico teachers supported by the program. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham approved $5 million for the program this year.
“The Teacher Loan Repayment Program is one of New Mexico’s most successful student debt relief programs and an essential tool for supporting our hardworking educators, who have chosen to further their education for the benefit of students. I thank Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for her continued commitment to supporting educators and we encourage all public K-12 teachers to consider applying for this amazing program,” said Higher Education Secretary Stephanie M. Rodriguez.
“The continuation of this vital program is one of the key components of recruiting and keeping the highest quality teachers throughout the state,” said Public Education Secretary Arsenio Romero. “This goes a long way toward making New Mexico the prime place to be an educator.”
Gov. Lujan Grisham also approved $8 million for the Teacher Preparation Affordability Scholarship, which supports current students pursuing degrees leading to teaching careers and was expanded this year to include licensed teachers pursuing master’s degrees. However, many teachers who earned their degree before these programs were available or went on to earn advanced degrees paid for them using federal student loans. The average amount of debt held by teachers participating in the program this year is over $50,000.
“As federal policy around student debt continues to be in flux, programs like New Mexico’s Teacher Loan Repayment Program are a critical lifeline for our educational professionals. We have been long-time supporters of any and all efforts to attract – and importantly retain – educators in our public schools. We congratulate Gov. Lujan Grisham and Secretary Rodriguez’s efforts and are excited to help support their continued successes in championing our educational professionals,” said American Federation of Teachers New Mexico President Whitney Holland.
“Thanks to the Teacher Loan Repayment Program, hundreds of New Mexico teachers will experience relief from the financial burden of student loans this year,” National Education Association New Mexico President Mary Parr-Sanchez said. “NEA New Mexico deeply appreciates the commitment of Gov. Lujan Grisham, the New Mexico Higher Education Department, and policymakers to ensuring that educators can focus on their most important job – teaching students.”
The award can be renewed for additional two-year cycles if the recipient continues to fulfill the teaching commitment. 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.
Eligible teachers must be U.S. citizens, New Mexico residents for 12 or more consecutive months, hold a New Mexico teaching license, and have taught at least three years in New Mexico. Priority is given to teachers in a high-need position, including those with endorsements and actively teaching in the following areas:
- Bilingual education
- Early childhood education
- Special education
- Science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM)
- Career technical education (CTE)
- Teaching in a low-performing school serving economically disadvantaged populations (40% or more of students receiving free and reduced lunch)
Program applications are due by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 1, and can be completed electronically via the New Mexico Higher Education Department’s website at hed.nm.gov. Teachers who are interested can also contact the agency via email at Fin.Aid@hed.nm.gov or through the Financial Aid Hotline at 1-800-279-9777