Chabot Introduces Legislation to Preserve Teacher Loan Forgiveness for Military Spouses
Washington, DC -- Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Westwood) on Thursday introduced bipartisan legislation to eliminate a glitch in the teacher loan forgiveness program that unfairly impacts the spouses of men and women who serve in the military. Joining Chabot as original cosponsors of the legislation, H.R. 1229, thePreserve Teacher Loan Forgiveness for Military Spouses Act, are Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Trent Kelly (R-MS), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Elaine Luria (D-VA), and Eric Swalwell (D-CA).
“Forgiving the student loan debt of teachers is intended to be an incentive for recent college graduates to give back to society,” said Chabot. “Teachers who are married to military service members, and their families, are making a significant sacrifice and contribution to our country, and they are exactly the type of people who should benefit from this program. Too often, however, military spouses wind up ineligible for the program due to a transfer of their spouse beyond their control. This legislation will put an end to this inequity.”
Under current law, in order to be eligible for the teacher loan forgiveness program, an individual must teach for five complete and consecutive years at a qualifying Title I school. However, teachers who are married to military service members are often forced to leave such a position when the government transfers their spouse to another base or post. Following this relocation which often happens in the middle of a school year, it can take some time for the teacher to find a new job at a qualifying school. This can create a lapse in employment and make it difficult for relocated military spouses to participate in the student loan forgiveness program.
This problem was brought to Chabot’s attention a few years ago by Lindsay Willmann, a teacher originally from Lebanon, who was confronted with this exact scenario. Ms. Willmann, whose husband is employed by the U.S. Navy, was relocated twice during her first five years of teaching. Each time, it took her a period of time to locate a new teaching job, which created a gap in employment and made her ineligible for the federal loan forgiveness program.
H.R. 1229 would address this problem by providing military spouses who participate in the teacher loan forgiveness program a waiver that would allow them to remain eligible if the government relocates their family. The waiver would only apply if the spouse resumes teaching at a qualifying Title I school within one year of the relocation.
“We should not punish teachers who oftentimes have no control over their spouse’s relocation or reassignment by the military,” Chabot added. “Instead, they should be encouraged to continue to serve our communities by remaining eligible for the same benefits once they relocate, as long as they continue to meet the five-year teaching requirement.”
The legislation would also address the lack of transparency of the program by requiring a report to Congress every two years about the program, including its number of participants.
H.R. 1229 is supported by several military and education groups, including the Military Officers of America Association (MOAA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the National Education Association (NEA).