Minnesota Fills Teacher Shortage By Offering Student Loan Repayment Assistance

September 22, 2016

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Need to attract young workers? You aren’t alone. The State of Minnesota is struggling with a massive shortage of qualified teachers – and has decided to do more to attract young, recently-graduated teacher applicants by sweetening their benefits package with a student loan repayment assistance program.

Thus far, the program has been a terrific success, attracting at least 3,000 applicants from 350 school districts. These applicants are competing for 1,000 ‘scholarships,’ in the form of a $1,000 payment to their student loan servicers. The scholarships are under the auspices of the Minnesota Teacher Shortage Loan Program¬†under the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.

To qualify, teachers must currently hold a Minnesota teachers license, be currently employed by a school district providing classroom instruction, teach in a designated shortage area, and, of course, have outstanding qualified educational loan debt.

The awards are for up to $1,000 in student loan repayment assistance per year, for up to five years, for a total benefit of $5,000.

With this program, Minnesota schools join a rapidly expanding number of employers who have elected to appeal to Millennials and other recent graduates by offering student loan repayment assistance as an employee benefit, though the “scholarship” structure that the Minnesota Office of Higher Education has chosen is unusual.

Currently, between 3 and 4 percent of all employers provide student loan repayment assistance to employees as part of their compensation package, according to the Society for Human Resources Management. But that number is accelerating nationwide.

More information, including a list of currently identified shortage areas, is available here.