HOUSE BILL 360
54th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - second session, 2020
David M. Gallegos and Rachel A. Black and
James R.J. Strickler and Candie G. Sweetser
RELATING TO HIGHER EDUCATION; ALLOWING ALL NEW MEXICO PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS TO QUALIFY FOR LOAN REPAYMENT OF UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE DEGREES IN EDUCATION; ALLOWING FOR PRIORITY FOR DESIGNATED HIGH-NEED TEACHER POSITIONS IF PROGRAM FUNDS ARE LIMITED.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
SECTION 1. Section 21-22H-2 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 2013, Chapter 177, Section 2) is amended to read:
"21-22H-2. PURPOSE.--The purpose of the Teacher Loan Repayment Act is to increase the number of teachers in [designated high-risk teacher positions in] public schools through an educational loan repayment program. The act provides for repayment of the principal and reasonable interest accrued on loans obtained from the federal government for teacher education purposes."
SECTION 2. Section 21-22H-3 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 2013, Chapter 177, Section 3, as amended) is amended to read:
"21-22H-3. DEFINITIONS.--As used in the Teacher Loan Repayment Act:
A. "department" means the higher education department;
B. "designated high-need teacher positions" means teacher positions in specific public schools that are:
(1) for teachers who are endorsed and teach bilingual education;
(2) for teachers who are endorsed and teach early childhood education or special education;
(3) for teachers who are endorsed and teach science, technology, engineering, mathematics or career technical education courses; or
(4) for teachers who are minorities; and
(5) in a public school that is low-performing or serves a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students [and] as determined by the public education department;
C. "loan" means a grant of money to defray the [costs incidental to] tuition and fee costs of a teacher education, including bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees in one or more education fields that lead to employment as a teacher in a New Mexico public school, under a contract between the federal government and a teacher, requiring repayment of principal and interest; and
D. "student loan servicer" means a nonprofit organization that services student loans for the federal government."
SECTION 3. Section 21-22H-4 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 2013, Chapter 177, Section 4, as amended) is amended to read:
"21-22H-4. DEPARTMENT POWERS AND DUTIES--TEACHER ELIGIBILITY--QUALIFICATIONS.--
A. The department may grant a loan repayment award to repay loans obtained for the teacher educational expenses of a teacher upon such terms and conditions as may be imposed by rules of the department.
B. Applicants shall be licensed New Mexico teachers who are bona fide citizens and residents of the United States and of New Mexico and have taught at least three years in New Mexico. [High] If funds are limited, priority [shall] may be given to applicants who are teaching in designated high-need teacher positions in the state.
C. The department and the public education department shall jointly make a full and careful investigation of the ability and qualifications of each applicant and determine the fitness of [a] the teacher to participate in the teacher loan repayment program."
SECTION 4. Section 21-22H-5 NMSA 1978 (being Laws 2013, Chapter 177, Section 5, as amended) is amended to read:
"21-22H-5. LOAN REPAYMENT AWARD CRITERIA--CONTRACT TERMS--PAYMENT.--
A. Loan repayment award criteria shall provide that:
(1) for [high-priority] priority applicants, award amounts shall be dependent upon a specific public school's need for the designated high-need teacher position, as determined by the public education department, the teacher's total teacher education indebtedness and available balances in the teacher loan repayment fund;
(2) award amounts for other teachers shall be based on the need for a teacher position that can be filled by the applicant, as determined by the public education department, the teacher's total teacher education indebtedness and available balances in the teacher loan repayment fund;
(3) preference in making awards shall be to teachers who have graduated from a New Mexico public post-secondary educational institution;
(4) an award [amounts] shall not exceed six thousand dollars ($6,000) per year and may be modified based upon funding availability or other special circumstances; and
(5) the total amount of awards made to any one teacher shall not exceed the total teacher education indebtedness remaining for that teacher.
B. The following teacher education debts are not eligible for repayment pursuant to the Teacher Loan Repayment Act:
(1) amounts incurred as a result of participation in state loan-for-service programs or other state programs whose purpose states that service be provided in exchange for financial assistance;
(2) scholarships that have a service component or obligation;
(3) loans from a commercial lender;
(4) personal loans from friends or relatives; and
(5) loans that exceed individual standard school expense levels.
C. Every loan repayment award shall be evidenced by a contract between the teacher and the department acting on behalf of the state. The contract shall provide for the payment by the state of a stated sum each year to the teacher's federal government lender or student loan servicer not to exceed six thousand dollars ($6,000) per year and shall state the obligations of the teacher under the program, including a minimum two-school-year period of service, quarterly reporting requirements and other obligations established by the department. Execution of contracts shall occur prior to the start of a school year, and the two-school-year period of service starts at the execution of the contract.
D. The department shall make annual payments pursuant to contracts only after satisfactory completion of a full school year of teaching as certified by the public education department. The contract of any teacher who does not complete a full school year of teaching shall be voided, and the teacher shall forfeit any right to that year's payment pursuant to the contract.
E. Each contract shall be for an initial two-year period and may be extended for three additional two-year contracts. The department shall not enter into any contracts with a single teacher for more than eight years of repayment.
F. Loan repayment awards shall be in the form of payments from the teacher loan repayment fund directly to the federal government lender or student loan servicer of a teacher who has received the award and shall be considered a payment on behalf of the teacher pursuant to the contract between the department and the teacher. A loan repayment award shall not obligate the state or the department to the teacher's federal government lender or student loan servicer for any other payment and shall not be considered to create any privity of contract between the state or the department and the lender or student loan servicer.
G. The department, after consulting with the public education department, shall adopt rules to implement the provisions of the Teacher Loan Repayment Act. The rules shall provide:
(1) a procedure for determining the amount of a loan that will be repaid for each school year of service; and
(2) for the disbursement of loan repayment awards to a teacher's federal government lender or student loan servicer in annual installments after completion of each qualifying [full] school year of teaching."
SECTION 5. EFFECTIVE DATE.--The effective date of the provisions of this act is July 1, 2020.
- 7 -