Teachers and Student Loans

Teachers and student loans unfortunately go hand in hand. Education degrees and certification cost a tremendous amount of money and leave many of our area teachers drowning in debt.

And a relatively new Tennessee law now makes those student loans even harder to bear. If a K-12 public school teacher can’t pay their student loans, this law requires their license be denied, suspended, or revoked.

The law went into effect on January 1, 2013. It’s the new normal for teachers in Memphis, where city schools would love to have experienced, well-educated teachers in the classroom.

When Teachers Struggle, We All Lose

This law creates a terrible cycle. If the school system struggles, it can’t pay teachers very much. And if they aren’t paid very much, they teachers can’t pay back their student loans. As a result, we lose some of our best educators, which makes the school system struggle even more.

In my opinion, this law helps no one but the banks. It hurts children and the teachers who dedicate their lives to education. And it could ultimately cause an even worse shortage of qualified teachers for struggling school districts.

It’s nearly impossible to get an education without student loans at this point. Education degrees are vastly too expensive for future teachers to afford. The universities, banks, and government know this when giving out the loans in the first place. And it’s nearly impossible to pay teachers the very high pay their incredible work deserves. So we’ve created a system that punishes our teachers for being poor as a result of the sacrifice they make to teach our kids.

Fortunately, the government does offer some loan forgiveness plans for teachers. And Tennessee has a couple of programs as well. But not everyone will qualify, and forgiveness after a few years of work doesn’t change the punishment in place if you struggle now to pay back what you owe.

I would never encourage someone to default on their loans. It’s always right to pay back your debts if at all possible. But it’s clear one of our most important professions has become a financial and career gamble.

How We Can Help Struggling Teachers

If you’re a teacher behind on your student loans and overwhelmed with debt, we may be able to help.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to put your loan payments into an affordable plan. You can pay off the debt at a rate designed around your finances. Many of our clients also use bankruptcy to take care of other debts, which can free you up to handle student loans more easily.

Our Memphis bankruptcy lawyers look at every case with individual care. We want teachers out there teaching, and so we can help clear out all of your other debt so those student loans aren’t as much of a burden anymore.

If you’re a teacher struggling with debt, contact us today to discuss your situation for free with an attorney.