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Rollins professor says Biden student loan forgiveness plan could alleviate teacher shortage

Gretchen Robinson, a lesbian high school teacher in Orange County, Fla., poses for a photo at the downtown library, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. Educators are cautiously making changes as they wait to see how the new law governing lessons on gender and sexual orientation will be interpreted and enforced. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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Gretchen Robinson, a lesbian high school teacher in Orange County, Fla., poses for a photo at the downtown library, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. Educators are cautiously making changes as they wait to see how the new law governing lessons on gender and sexual orientation will be interpreted and enforced. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

President Joe Biden says his administration will forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt for most borrowers, and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. This loan forgiveness program could help alleviate a statewide teacher shortage. 

According to the Florida Education Association, there are still some 8,000 teacher vacancies that need to be filled throughout the state. 

Rollins College education professor Scott Hewit says Biden’s new loan forgiveness program could encourage more people to pursue a degree in education, which in turn might help ease a statewide teacher shortage.

“Teachers are out there making some, you know, not not altogether decent salaries compared to a lot of others. And so that group in particular, certainly would benefit from having some relief from their loans because of their already low salaries.”

But Hewit says this would only be one small piece of the puzzle.

“It couldn't hurt but as I'm sure you know, I think that the teacher shortage is a complex picture of multiple factors. And you know, forgiving loans for teachers is going to be one part of the solution. So it can't hurt.”

In order to qualify for the loan forgiveness program, individuals must make less than $125,000 a year and couples must make less than $250,000 a year. 

The program will also extend a pause on these federal loan payments through December 31st. More than 2.6 million people in Florida currently have student loan debt. 

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, Michigan and is a graduate of both the University of Michigan and Northwestern University. In her free time, she enjoys playing her guitar, writing fiction, and cooking.