Skip Navigation
We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, provide ads, analyze site traffic, and personalize content. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies.
NEA Report

How Student Debt Relief and Loan Forgiveness Can Help Solve Educator Shortages

Educators frequently are required to have advanced degrees. The debt of that education can be crippling.
HE Month!
Published: 09/30/2022
This resource originally appeared on

For educators, the student debt burden is especially cruel.

Teachers typically earn a bachelor’s degree and teacher certification to enter the classroom, and in some states, they must earn a master’s degree within a few years to continue their careers. Some ESPs are also required to earn college degrees and certification, or they must undergo training in their specific field of work.

To get this postsecondary education, more than half of teachers (53 percent) and more than a quarter of ESPs (29 percent) have taken out student loans. Among those who took out loans, more than a quarter of teachers and ESPs took out at least $65,000, with younger educators and educators of color more likely to have higher levels of debt than their peers.

This debt has had a variety of negative consequences for educators. In a 2020 survey, the NEA found that

  • Educators who were currently holding student loan debt were more likely to report difficulties building up emergency savings and maintaining their own well-being.
  • They were also more likely to have difficulties paying for basic needs, such as food, housing, and medical care.

Some educators are still paying off their student debt as they take out loans for their children’s education or in their retirement.

Student debt relief and forgiveness solutions that can help recruit and retain educators include:

For citations and more details, read NEA's full report on educator shortage solutions

Use Your Educator Voice.

We are THE voice for educators in South Carolina. See what membership can mean for you!
Six aspiring educator members from SC State University pose for a photo. Three student members are in the front, all are smiling, and the student in the right corner is flashing a peace sign. There are three students in the back row, also smiling, with the person to the furthest right flashing a peace sign. In the background, there are blue and pink neon lights and the image of The SCEA logo in white is just barely visible in the spaces between people.

You Belong!

To help you start your career off right, The SCEA will pay your for your dues in The SCEA and NEA Aspiring Educator program. Don't wait.

Your Voice. Our Power. Their Future.

The SCEA is an affiliate of the largest professional association of educators in the country. As the leading advocate for the schools South Carolina students deserve, The SCEA works to promote quality public education and to support public school employees.