AACTE Statement on the SCOTUS Decision on Federal Student Loan Debt Relief
The Supreme Court’s recent decision to deny student loan debt relief to as many as 40 million low- and middle-income Americans will have many adverse personal, economic, and social consequences. One of those consequences will be to exacerbate the nation’s shortage of PK-12 educators. By making it less affordable to become or remain a teacher, principal, or other education professional, this decision will impede our ability to build the diverse, highly qualified educator workforce that our nation’s children need and deserve.
Student loan debt plays a significant role in shaping the education workforce. Concern about compensation—including being able to repay student loans—is the most commonly cited factor dissuading young people from choosing teaching as a career. AACTE (American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education) has documented that, because teachers earn less than other college-educated workers, even comparatively modest levels of student loan debt are difficult to afford. This problem is particularly acute for students of color, and so these students are far less likely to choose education as a career compared with better compensated fields such as business or healthcare. Moreover, current educators who were counting on debt relief will now be forced to leave education for better paying jobs and those who had hoped to advance in their careers by pursuing graduate education will be unable to do so.
Given the Supreme Court’s decision, it is now the responsibility of Congress and the Biden Administration to lessen the impact of student debt on all borrowers, and in particular, on those who choose to serve our nation as educators. AACTE applauds the Biden Administration for its efforts to make the return to repayment less challenging, to offer affordable repayment options, and to expand and improve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program that offers debt relief to public servants such as teachers. We strongly support the Loan Forgiveness for Educators Act introduced by Sen. Luján (D-NM), Rep. Fernández (D-NM), and Rep. Hayes (D-CT) to update and expand the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. We also encourage efforts to reduce the need for educators to borrow by expanding federal, state, and institutional grant programs and by expanding high-quality residency and apprenticeship programs that compensate pre-service educators for their clinical preparation work in schools.
As the leading voice for educator preparation, AACTE will work with and on behalf of its member colleges and universities to support these and other policies that eliminate financial barriers to becoming or remaining a teacher.
For additional information, visit aacte.org.