COLUMBIA — Certified first-year teachers and provisionally certified teachers of math, science or special education may be eligible to receive up to $3,200 in loan forgiveness.
The Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority, or MOHELA, has forgiven $1.5 million in student loans in order to encourage educators to remain teaching.
“The purpose was to lessen the debt burden on students going into a profession that doesn’t pay very well,” said Quentin Wilson, associate director of MOHELA. “It reduces the financial pressure on our teachers and perhaps keeps them from going to a higher paying job for which they might be qualified. We want to encourage this type of public service.”
This award, which covers those with Stafford student loans, brings the total reduction of MOHELA loans and fees to more than $42 million since 2000.
Over the next two years, engineering or pre-engineering students with student loans through MOHELA who are currently freshmen at universities in Missouri will also be eligible for up to $3,500 in Stafford student loan forgiveness. The maximum amount a student may borrow through the program is $3,500.
The loan forgiveness primarily affects 102 graduates from Missouri State, 69 University of Missouri-St. Louis graduates and 40 Southeast Missouri State alumni, Wilson said. Three graduates from Stephens College and six from Columbia College will receive loan forgiveness, though no one from MU is affected because the university provides loans through the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, he said.
In a statement issued by Gov. Matt Blunt’s office, Blunt praised MOHELA for the loan forgiveness. “Through loan forgiveness for hundreds of teachers, the agency is supporting our efforts to promote math, engineering, technology and science in Missouri by finding ways to encourage students to enter these important fields,” Blunt said. “Education is my highest priority as governor, and over four years my budgets will have delivered $1.2 billion for Missouri universities, classrooms and students.”
In addition, the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative, a partnership with MOHELA and the state, will grant $335 million to Missouri universities over the next five years. The grant will be used to improve older facilities and provide new learning centers for students. Approximately $233 million has already been transferred from MOHELA to the state of Missouri for this purpose, of which more than $66 million has already been distributed to universities across the state.