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AACTE Issue Brief Explores Financial Challenges Facing Future Teachers

How Do Education Students Pay for College?The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) released today its latest issue brief, How Do Education Students Pay for College? The report provides colleges of education a closer look at the financial pressures impacting education students, by type of institution attended and by student race and ethnicity, through a detailed examination of the costs they face and the financial sources they use to pay those expenses. The findings reveal the financial challenges future educators will face and the financial disincentives to pursuing a teaching career, especially for students of color. It also supports the necessity of compensating educators fairly, in particular novice teachers who may be most burdened by student loan debt.

“The global pandemic has deepened the national teacher shortage crisis. It is critical now more than ever to recruit diverse, talented people into the teaching profession, which requires our nation’s leaders to revamp policies and practices that make college affordable and increase teacher compensation,” said Lynn M. Gangone, president and CEO of AACTE.

The report reveals that most education students have to borrow funds to afford college despite attending institutions that are less expensive than average and receiving substantial grant assistance. According to 2015-16 data, by the time education students graduate, 76% of them take out student loans, and the average amount they borrow is nearly $28,000. African American students are the most likely to borrow at 91%—the most of the three largest racial-ethnic sub-groups. Estimated payments on the average amount all education students borrow is equivalent to 9% of the average starting teacher salary, which is above the 7% threshold recommended by economists as affordable for borrowers at that income level.

To help make education programs more affordable, AACTE offers the following recommendations for federal education policies:

  • Strengthen and expand the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and the Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program for Teachers
  • Fund the Loan Forgiveness Program for Service in Areas of National Need
  • Improve the TEACH grant program for candidates preparing to become teachers in high-need fields by increasing the stipend amount and converting grants to interest-bearing loans only when a recipient can no longer complete their service obligation.

Read the full report for the complete recommendations on education policy changes as well as campus practices that can help expand financial education and counseling for future educators. The report is available for AACTE members at aacte.org.

AACTE will release two additional issue briefs on institutions offering degrees in education and degree trends in high-demand teaching specialties later this month.

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AACTE: The Leading Voice on Educator Preparation

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education is a national alliance of educator preparation programs and partners dedicated to high-quality, evidence-based preparation that assures educators are profession-ready as they enter the classroom. The 700 member institutions include public and private colleges and universities in every state, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands and Guam. Through advocacy and capacity building, AACTE promotes innovation and effective practices that strengthen educator preparation. Learn more at aacte.org.


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