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Legislation offers incentives for future teachers

Indiana’s highest-performing high school and college students could get some of their student loans paid back by the government if they teach in some of the state’s neediest subjects and areas.

Under legislation proposed by Indianapolis Democratic Representative Justin Moed, the state would pay back nine thousand dollars in student loans after a graduate of an Indiana college teaches three years in a Hoosier school. 

To be eligible, participants have to graduate in the top 20 percent of their high school class or achieve an SAT or ACT score in the top 20th percentile and earn at least a 3.5 GPA in college.  Moed says his bill is a way to incentivize Indiana’s top students to join the teaching profession.

“It gets them to stay here in Indiana and teach at a school in an area of need, whether it’s STEM – science, technology, engineering or math – special needs or a geographic shortage area,” Moed said.

The program would apply to students who are high school seniors or younger, beginning next year.  As a result, Moed says the program wouldn’t start paying out money until eight years from now…meaning this year’s bill doesn’t have an appropriation tied to it.

“We’ve got, then, the next eight years to figure out the details,” Moed said. “Is this going to be…how wide of a net are we catching of students that are actually looking at doing this?  And then we can base the appropriation based on that.”

Moed says there are other details that also need to be worked out in the coming years, such as how the state will advertise the program to students and connect them with the jobs they’ll need to fill.  But he says by passing the initial legislation this year, it essentially starts the clock for students who could take advantage down the line.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.