ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced new legislation that would help Howard County public school teachers repay their student loans. This is the first student loan repayment program in Maryland for Howard County teachers. Photos of the event can be found here.
As we approach annual Maryland Educator Appreciation Day next week, it’s the perfect time to not only celebrate all that our educators do for us and our students, but to also acknowledge their sacrifices. Our educators deserve our respect and should not only be valued but feel valued. This $1.5 million dollar investment will help ensure that our educators can work to pay down their student loan debt faster and potentially reallocate those payments to other critical needs.
On Monday, the Howard County Council unanimously passed Council Bill 14, or the Student Loan Assistance Repayment Program for Teachers, which will provide $1.5 million over five years for student loan repayments.
“Educators support our community and bring us together, yet more and more future educators are pushed out of the workforce before they ever enter a classroom,” said Christiana Rigby, Howard County Council Chair. “In Howard County, we're supporting educators with increases in their take home pay and by establishing this loan repayment program. This program will help us retain a workforce that is vital to our community's success.”
“I am so pleased that Howard County is the first to implement this program that we enabled through state legislation in 2018,” said Delegate Courtney Watson. “We need to do everything we can to support our teachers, and this is one solid step in that direction.”
The specific award amount will be determined after a collaborative effort between the Howard County public School System (HCPSS), Board of Education, Howard County Educators Association (HCEA), and County government.
Educational loans can be a significant financial burden for many to entering and staying in the teaching profession. The Student Loan Assistance Repayment Program is a wonderful collaboration that explores opportunities ‘outside the box’ to retain our phenomenal teaching staff. I am grateful to the Howard County Delegation for passing the legislation needed for this opportunity, and to the County Executive and County Council members who supported the establishment of this program and who are committed to funding this program for years to come.
“Over the past 6 years, Dr. Ball and our County Council have been amazing partners. They want what is best for our county and are continually looking for ways to achieve our collective goals,” said Colleen Morris, HCEA President. “This student loan program is just one of many incentives that we need to entice new graduates to come to Howard County and we thank both the delegation for enabling the legislation and Dr. Ball for enacting it.”
Full time teachers with a minimum of five years of service within the HCPSS will be eligible for the program. Additional qualifications for teachers include a degree from an accredited college, board certification and no defaults on existing loans.
“The importance of this program cannot be overstated,” said Jessica Nichols, River Hill High School teacher. “This program eases the financial pressure of student loans on teachers while reminding them their county cares about them.”