By Molly Minta
Mississippi has opened applications for first-grade teachers to apply for loan repayment funds on a first-come, first-served basis, with priority given to those in districts with teacher shortages.
The Office of Student Financial Aid will award up to 150 full-time first-year teachers under the William Winter Teacher Loan Repayment Program, which was created by the Legislature in 2021. The program provides repayments of teacher loans for up to three years. .
Rewards are paid to teachers at the end of the school year, and the amount varies depending on the teacher’s school district. First-grade teachers with a valid five-year state educator license who work in a critical shortage geographic district will receive $4,000 in loan repayment, while teachers who do not receive it will receive $1,500. $.
A school district is declared geographic area of teacher shortage if it has 60 or more teaching positions and 10% or more of them do not hold an appropriate license. Without a proper license includes teachers teaching off-field, teachers teaching without a certificate, and long-term substitute teachers.
A school district with fewer than 60 teaching positions becomes a geographic shortage area if 15% or more of its teaching staff are not properly licensed.
Second-grade teachers who received funding last year can also reapply. Second-grade teachers in geographic shortage districts will receive $5,000 in loan repayment; those in an area with no shortage will receive $2,500.
The deadline to apply is September 15.
To qualify, teachers with undergraduate loans must be a graduate of a regionally accredited university and cannot be past due or in default.
Teachers who have received funding from other state loan programs targeting the education profession – such as the Critical Needs Teacher Forgivable Loan Program, Teacher Forgivable Loan Program William Winter or the Forgivable Loan Program for Teacher Education Researchers – are not eligible.
According to the OSFA website, teachers who are ineligible may be eligible for civil service loan forgiveness.
The William Winter Teacher Loan Repayment Program was proposed by Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, last year as a way to ameliorate the current teacher shortage in the state. This replaced a slew of teacher loan programs that the legislature created in the 1990s but left unfunded in recent years.