Did you know an MTA proposal for $15,000,000 dedicated for scholarships for teacher preparation programs and some teacher loan forgiveness was approved in the 2022 budget? Let’s track down what is happening with the Tomorrow’s Educators programs.
In the FY2023 Massachusetts General Appropriations budget signed by then-Governor Charlie Baker, a pool of funds was set aside for Tomorrow’s Educators. The funds were divided evenly between the scholarships for candidates who commit to licensure preparation program pathways and loan forgiveness for graduates of public institutions of higher education who commit to four years of employment in a school district. See here for the full language.
At the time The Policy Minute hit publish on this post, both programs are under development. Another year of funding for the programs was not included Governor Maura Healy’s proposed budget for FY2024 but we might see more funding in future budget drafts.
We do not know anything about the application process yet, but promise to post an update once more information is released. We will also have updates on other financial aid resources for teacher candidates. Lets look at some cheers and concerns:
The scholarship will award up to $25,000 annually for a candidate enrolled in an undergraduate or post-baccalaureate teacher preparation program.
The funds can be used for tuition, fees and other expenses. This may include, but is not limited to, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, childcare, and personal expenses.
The funds will be available for post-baccalaureate teacher preparation programs. So paraprofessionals, teachers working under Provisional licenses or teachers who were blocked from completing an undergraduate prep program (say, because of MTELs…) would be also eligible.
Candidates for teacher licensure who are currently enrolled in Massachusetts community colleges are excluded from eligibility. This include candidates who are pursuing MassTransfer or the A2B programs for teacher preparation programs. They will likely be eligible once they transfer to a four year program.
Candidates are expected to be enrolled in at least 12 credits to be eligible. Although the guidelines indicate there are exceptions (“unless otherwise agreed upon”), the default expectation of 12 credits may discourage candidates from applying for the funds. We hope future guidance will clarify options for candidates in part-time programs and/or post-baccalaureate programs.
There may be only one window for applying for funds. Candidates who may only need funds for a spring semester or who only learn about the program in the fall semester will need to wait until the next academic year. While this makes sense for full-time undergraduate candidates, it could exclude non-traditional candidates from accessing the funds.
Tomorrow’s Educators Loan Forgiveness Program
We do know that $7,500,000 was budgeted for student loan repayment program for public school educators. Eligible educators would include those who have
(a) have completed a bachelor’s degree program at a public institution of higher education, as defined in section 5 of chapter 15A of the General Laws, and including Quincy College, after January 1, 2020,
(b) have outstanding educational debt that was incurred to pay tuition, fees or additional costs of attendance as calculated by the institution of higher education, including, but not limited to, room and board, books and supplies, transportation, child care and personal expenses, while enrolled in an undergraduate degree or post-baccalaureate program at the institution,
(c) commit to and work for 4 years in a school district, as defined in section 2 of chapter 70 of the General Laws, as a teacher, instructional or program paraprofessional, or in any other position that requires a license or other form of certification issued by the department of elementary and secondary education or other state agency.
Includes instructional and program paraprofessionals in public schools who have completed a bachelor’s degree from a Massachusetts public institution of higher education.
Up to $7,500 in student loan assistance per individual.
We are still waiting for draft regulations to be published.