|For Immediate Release|
|Friday, August 28, 1998|
"Attracting Excellence to Teaching" Gives Teachers Opportunity to Reduce Debt by $7,200
Malden - Top college graduates deciding whether to begin a career in teaching, and currently employed public school teachers who are carrying loan burdens from undergraduate or graduate degree programs, will be interested to learn that they may be eligible for $7,200 in loan forgiveness from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll joined Governor Paul Cellucci at a Statehouse event in Boston today to announce that applications for this year's Attracting Excellence to Teaching loan-forgiveness program are now available from school superintendents, on the Internet or from the Department of Education.
With the current level of state funding, approximately 250 currently employed Massachusetts public school teachers repaying college or graduate school loans will be able to receive $1,800 a year for four years if they meet the eligibility requirements of the program.
Teachers are eligible for the Attracting Excellence to Teaching loan-forgiveness program if they are teaching on a full-time, permanent basis and in an area in which they hold Massachusetts certification. Also, they must have graduated after July 1, 1994 within the top 15% of their undergraduate class, or graduated with honors in their major or overall as an undergraduate or graduate student.
If there are more applicants this year than funds available, first priority will be given to teachers in the districts with the lowest family incomes -- as measured by the data showing where there are the greatest number of children participating in the free or reduced price school lunch programs. These districts are Springfield and Lawrence.
Commissioner Driscoll said, "The Attracting Excellence to Teaching program is designed to relieve some of the debt burden that teachers carry with them into jobs in our public schools. We are offering relief from some of the undergraduate debts as one key piece of our state plan to attract people to the career of teaching who otherwise are considering higher paying jobs in the private sector."
"Also, for currently employed teachers who still have undergraduate debts or who have decided to get a masters degree in the evenings or summers while they are employed, the loan forgiveness program can assist them to further their education. The bottom line is that this program offers valuable and welcome debt relief to people who were at the top of their class because we want these people in our classrooms committed to inspiring and teaching our children," Driscoll added.
The expansion of the Attracting Excellence to Teaching program is one of the eleven points in the "12 to 62 plan" proposed by Driscoll and enacted into law with the support of Governor Cellucci, Senate President Birmingham and Speaker Finneran earlier this month. The plan has a $60 million endowment, the interest on which is to be used to attract, train, retain, mentor and develop into masters a future corps of Massachusetts public school teachers.
The Attracting Excellence to Teaching program is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Education. Most of the application materials are due by January 1.