WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Doug Jones (D-Ala.) together have introduced legislation that will eliminate a barrier for teachers in military families to earn loan forgiveness for their years of public service. S. 532, the Preserving Teacher Loan Forgiveness for Military Spouses Act, would ensure that military spouses teaching in our hardest-to-serve school districts do not lose eligibility for the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness program should they follow their military spouse’s relocation or reassignment to military installations in the United States or abroad. A companion bill, H.R. 1229, was filed by Rep. Steve Chabot (Ohio-1) in the House of Representatives.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Loan Forgiveness program incentivizes teachers to commit to students in our lowest-income school districts in exchange for up to $17,500 in federal student loan forgiveness. Teachers qualify for loan forgiveness once they have taught full-time for at least five consecutive years at a low-income school or educational service agency. Teachers who are military spouses often fail to qualify for loan forgiveness after moving in the middle of the school year due to their spouses’ permanent change of station orders. Under current guidelines, such a move would void that year of service and cause a teacher to lose eligibility for the program.
“Military families make enormous sacrifices each day for our country. Spouses committed to public service and educating our children should not be penalized for keeping their family together for a new military assignment. This commonsense legislation will allow these double service families to earn the benefits they have dutifully worked towards and continue to incentivize individuals to serve our hardest to educate children,” said Senator Cardin.
“Military spouses and families often sacrifice job stability in support of their loved ones who are fighting to protect our nation,” said Senator Cornyn. “This legislation allows spouses who are educators in low-income schools to remain eligible for their loan forgiveness program if their family is being relocated by the military.”
“Military spouses make tremendous sacrifices in service to our country,” said Senator Jones. “However, their eligibility for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program should not be one of them. I’m proud to cosponsor this bill, which would ensure that teachers who are married to service members can benefit from this important program.”
The Preserving Teacher Loan Forgiveness for Military Spouses Act allows military spouses to complete their five consecutive years in five complete years. The bill:
- Provides a waiver from the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program’s five consecutive years of service requirement for military spouses if their spouses is relocated during the school year pursuant to military orders from the Armed Forces.
- The waiver will allow individuals to remain eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program should they resume teaching full-time at a qualifying low-income school within one year of their relocation.
- Allows military spouses that follow their service members overseas to remain eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program if they teach at one of the Department of Defense Education Activity schools on military installations.
- Requires the Department of Education to provide a report to Congress every two years on the number of military spouses who remained eligible for Teacher Loan Forgiveness as a result of this legislation.
This legislation has been endorsed by the Military Officers Association of America, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.