News from the
Committee on Education and the Workforce
John Boehner, Chairman

January 21, 2003

CONTACTS: Heather Valentine or 
Dave Schnittger 
Telephone: (202) 225-4527

House Republicans Praise President’s Plans to Expand Student Loan Forgiveness for Math, Science, and Special Education Teachers

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Republican members of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce today welcomed news that President Bush’s FY 2004 Budget will call for a dramatic expansion of federal student loan forgiveness for Americans who teach math, science, or special education for five years in disadvantaged public schools. The President’s proposal is intended to encourage more Americans to teach in school districts facing a shortage of teachers in critical subjects, and to help states and schools put a highly qualified teacher in every public classroom, as called for in the bipartisan No Child Left Behind education reform law.

“Teachers need our support, and children in disadvantaged communities deserve the chance to learn from highly qualified teachers,” said House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Boehner (R-OH). “The fact that the President has decided to include this proposal in his budget at a time when tough choices are being made across the board is rock-solid proof of his priorities. Our committee will move quickly to ensure that the President has the chance to sign this proposal into law.”

The President’s loan forgiveness proposal is similar to legislation proposed last year by President and Mrs. Bush and introduced during the 107th Congress (2001-2002) by now-U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). A modified version of the Graham legislation passed the House in 2002 but was not acted upon by the Senate. The proposal has returned as a priority for congressional Republicans in the new 108th Congress. Approximately 7,000 math, science, and special education teachers nationwide would be eligible to receive an average benefit of $13,300 under the President’s proposal, compared to the benefit of $4,800 they receive under the current program, the administration estimates.

"One of the most critical steps in improving education for our children is attracting qualified and talented individuals to teach them. Many schools throughout the nation and in rural areas have difficulty finding teachers, especially for subjects like math and science,” said Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC). “By raising the loan forgiveness amount, these schools will be able to hire the staff they need. President Bush continues to make great strides in improving our children's education, and I am pleased that he joins Senator Lindsey Graham in addressing this need.”

Under current law, qualified elementary and secondary teachers who work for five consecutive years in schools that serve high poverty student populations may have up to $5,000 of their federal student loans forgiven. The President’s FY 2004 Budget proposes to expand this program so that qualified math, science, and special education teachers can have up to $17,500 of their federal student loans forgiven. Under the current program, the administration estimates, 38,000 teachers starting their postsecondary education in AY 2003-2004 would receive loan forgiveness of up to $5,000. The President's proposal would continue the current program, but also provide up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness for 7,000 math, science, and special education teachers. The average student loan debt of an eligible math, science, and special education teacher leaving school is approximately $15,000, according to the administration.

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