Teacher Coalition Looking for Help with Loans

By: Daniel Kemp Email
By: Daniel Kemp Email

For two years, federal funding to pay off college loans for certain teachers has shrunk to next to nothing after one Kentucky lawmaker says the federal system collapsed.

Two Kentucky House bills are looking to change that and a coalition of teachers are behind them.

In college, nearly 5,000 students who are now those teachers, took part in what's called the "Best in Class" program.

The program, created by the Student Loan People, encouraged students to pursue careers in special education, math and science, promising grads they would get 20-percent of their loans paid off a year, for five years, if they worked in those fields.

But after funding has been cut, it's left those teachers with thousands of dollars worth of debt and they're asking for help.

For Frank Lillard, it's been a day of teaching writing, math, and health to students with special needs.

"We were promised our loans would be paid for and they weren't," said Lillard, who is a special education teacher at Logan County High School. "I really love my job. I don't want to do anything else."

But Lillard says that's not the case for hundreds of Kentucky teachers now in the same boat.

"A recent poll says 500 teachers were considering leaving the teaching field to go do other professions," Lillard said.

That's because money promised for the thousands of teachers who took part in the Best in Class program is no longer available.

And now those teachers are starting to get hit by loan bills from the Student Loan People.

"I've racked up $30,000 worth of school loans and I would've never taken on that amount of debt had I not been promised it would've been forgiven," Lillard said.

Representative Brent Yonts is co-sponsoring Kentucky House Bill 480, which would help these Kentucky teachers get what they were promised.

"I think it's great what Brent Yonts is doing. He's trying to help us out. I love the fact he's trying to help us," Lillard said.

It's all in an effort to keep Kentucky teachers teaching classes the state has struggled to fill for years.

"I don't know what school systems would do if these teachers left the profession," Lillard said.

House Bill 480, along with House Bill 502, a similar bill that would help these teachers were introduced into the House Education Committee on Tuesday.

Representative Yonts says the problem is attempting to find funding, when no one seems to have any.

If you would like to join the teacher coalition, click here.

For more on House Bill 480 and House Bill 502, click here.


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