Young school teacher helping boy with study on laptop in classroom

The Colorado Department of Higher Education announced on Tuesday that it will accept applications to forgive $5,000 annually for five years in student loans for educators.

“This program changes the calculus for current and aspiring educators so more choose to serve and stay in our classrooms,” said Executive Director Angie Paccione in a statement.

This year, Senate Bill 19-003 repealed a program established in 2001 to provide loan forgiveness for math, science and special education teachers — or those who worked in high-poverty rural schools — but that the General Assembly had neglected to fund for several years.

Now, the law has expanded the program to include up to 100 new participants annually, allowing principals and other school service providers to join, and changed the eligibility criteria to apply to employees in hard-to-staff schools or in content-shortage areas. The General Assembly appropriated $524,000 in the next fiscal year for the initiative.

Applicants whose loans qualify under state guidelines must have completed their educator training in Colorado. If there are more than 100 applicants, CDHE notes that a lottery selection will occur.

Colorado’s announcement comes weeks after state Attorney General Phil Weiser joined 19 other states and the District of Columbia in support of plaintiffs suing the U.S. Department of Education over its administration of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. The lawsuit alleges that the department unfairly denied loan forgiveness to more than 99% of educators who applied.

The deadline to apply for state loan forgiveness is Feb. 21, 2020.

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