WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) introduced the Teacher Debt Relief Act to spur recruitment and retention of teachers and streamline existing student debt relief and loan forgiveness programs. On average, teachers with a bachelor’s degree have $20,000 in student loan debt and $50,000 for those with a master’s degree.

At the same time, districts across the country are facing severe teacher shortages – especially in hard to fill subject areas and low-income communities with high percentages of students of color. Too many new teachers leave the profession after a few years because of low-pay. More needs to be done to increase teacher retention and infuse the educator pipeline. 

Currently, educators are eligible for partial debt relief after five years of service. However, federal law forbids simultaneous enrollment in the general Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Teacher Loan Forgiveness programs, forcing educators to work an additional ten years to qualify for full relief. 

The Teacher Debt Relief Act corrects this by allowing teachers to enroll in both programs concurrently, making paying off debt and staying in the classroom a more achievable reality.

“Like many educators across our country, I relied on student loans to pursue my dream of becoming a teacher. I know the crushing burden of worrying about student loan payments on a teacher salary. Our federal laws should incentivize becoming and remaining a teacher – not create unnecessary burdens that keep educators out of the classroom,” said Congresswoman Hayes. “The Teacher Debt Relief Act is a commonsense approach to provide desperately needed relief, especially as our nation continues to navigate the economic impacts of the pandemic and staffing shortages overwhelm our schools. Education should be the gateway to opportunity – not lifelong debt.”  


Congresswoman Jahana Hayes sits on the Committees on Education & Labor and Agriculture and proudly represents Connecticut’s 5th District. She was a public school teacher in Connecticut for more than 15 years and was recognized in 2016 as the National Teacher of the Year.