More Than 500 Missouri Math and Science Teachers Receive Loan Forgiveness

More Than 500 Missouri Math and Science Teachers Receive Loan Forgiveness

The Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA), through the MOHELA College Access and Affordability (MCAA) Fund, reaffirmed its commitment to educational and economic opportunity in Missouri by supporting two new student loan forgiveness programs. Responding to needs identified by national and state efforts in engineering, math and science education, the MCAA Fund invested in these programs to improve the quality and affordability of education in these key areas.

Business, education, government, and labor leaders met at the St. Louis Science Center to discuss national and state recommendations for addressing challenges in engineering, math and science. At this meeting, MOHELA announced the details of two new investments to help Missouri address these challenges.

The MOHELA loan forgiveness program for math and science teachers reduces the debt burden of eligible teachers early in their careers. By forgiving up to $2,500 in loan balances, this borrower benefit provides financial support to encourage teachers to continue their careers in math and science education, areas in which Missouri faces serious teacher shortages. Through this action, 531 math and science teachers from school districts throughout Missouri will receive approximately $1.3 million in loan forgiveness.

A second MOHELA program will offer financial rewards to encourage students preparing to enroll in college next fall to consider careers in engineering. The Prospective Engineering Student Loan Forgiveness Award Program will reduce Stafford student loan balances by up to $3,500 for college freshman enrolling and completing two years of designated college programs in pre-engineering or engineering beginning in the 2007-2008 school year. An electronic copy of a brochure describing the eligibility requirements and participating lenders is attached.

These efforts by MOHELA complement national, statewide and regional efforts, including the Math, Engineering, Technology, and Science (METS) Alliance, which was an initiative created by Governor Matt Blunt and included representatives from state and local governments, public school systems, and businesses. In its final recommendations, the alliance called for increasing the quality and supply of math and science teachers in Missouri.

"MOHELA continues to be a strong and viable presence in Missouri providing low cost student loans and great borrower benefits such as these loan forgiveness programs," Governor Matt Blunt said. "I am very pleased that MOHELA is supporting our Math, Engineering, Technology and Science (METS) Initiative and finding ways to encourage students to enter important fields, such as engineering and teaching. Education is my highest priority as Missouri's governor and I support this effort to encourage teachers to pursue careers in math and science, and students to consider careers in engineering by offering these generous loan forgiveness programs."

"We appreciate the leadership provided by members of the national Business-Higher Education Forum and the Missouri Math, Engineering, Technology and Science (METS) initiative," said Raymond H. Bayer, Jr., Executive Director and CEO of MOHELA. "They have made clear the vital role math, science and engineering will play in our economic future. We are supporting their efforts by helping Missouri schools keep and recruit quality math and science teachers while encouraging more college students to pursue degrees in engineering."

These new borrower benefits are made possible, in part, by MOHELA's access to tax-exempt bonding authority granted by the Missouri Department of Economic Development. Since its creation in 1981, MOHELA has offered lower-cost education funding to over 500,000 borrowers. In addition, this year alone, MOHELA has forgiven approximately $6 million in student loan balances, as well committing as much as $5 million for the new pre-engineering loan forgiveness program.