Teachers would be on their own to pay their student loans. The cut would leave teachers and public servants with $45 billion in debt payments over ten years.
The Trump administration proposed a new student financial aid budget for 2019 that cuts $7 billion from the Department of Education. The proposed budget would make cuts by getting rid of some types of federal student loans. If the budget is approved it would also change the loan repayment safety net and end forgiveness for borrowers who work in public service.
President Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). The PSLF Program forgives the remaining loan balance on Direct Loans after 120 qualifying monthly payments are made under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying public service employer.
Currently, PSLF provides loan forgiveness to federal and non-profit-group employees, including teachers. The Center for American Progress reported that ending PSLF would leave public servants responsible for $45 billion in debt payments over 10 years.
Webster University elementary education major Kathryn Hayden said she worries how she will repay her loans if Trump eliminates PSLF.
“I would be very uncomfortable if I were paying for school with my teaching salary alone,” Hayden said. “[Eliminating PSLF] would affect me greatly.”
Hayden said she wants to continue her higher education after she gains her undergraduate degree to become a better teacher. Fifty-six percent of teachers gain a masters degree or higher according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.
She also expressed concerns about how she could continue her education and gain a masters degree if PSLF is eliminated.
“I definitely will be scratching my head trying to figure about how to go back to school at the end of the day,” Hayden said.
The National Center for Educational statistics found that 17 percent of teachers don’t return to the field after five years of teaching. PSLF provides an incentive for future students to go into careers that are chronically vacant.
Allie Aguilera works as a policy and legislative affairs manager at Young Invincibles. Young Invincibles deals with issues relating to healthcare, higher education and economic security. She said the proposed budget would deter prospective teachers from going into education.
“[Eliminating PSLF] really threatens our ability to get great teachers and keep great teachers in our schools,” Aguilera said.
Sixteen percent of student debt comes from teachers with master’s degrees. However teachers on average earn 17 percent less than their peers who have the same level of education.
Associate Professor of Special Education Stephanie Mahfood said one of the reasons teachers are underpaid is because the U.S. does not respect teachers enough. She said current and future educators need to push against this budget and any future budget that educators feel is unfair.
“I think you’ve seen teachers nationally pushing against the systems that do not compensate them fairly, do not respect the work that they do,” Mahfood said. “I think that those kinds of push backs need to continue.”