Thursday, December 18, 2008

Does a First Year Teacher Earn Enough to Pay Off Student Loans?

Some politicians worry that the increasing cost of college and the increasing burden of student loans might deter college graduates from entering public service jobs such as teaching. In "Unbearable Burden? Living and Paying Student Loans as a First-Year Teacher," Neal McCluskey compares first-year salaries for teachers with the average student debt and concludes there is no need to worry.

The findings presented here reveal that first year teachers in even the least affordable of the 16 districts examined can easily afford to pay back their debts. Indeed, with just some basic economizing, a first-year teacher could not only pay back average debt, but could handle debt levels nearly three times the national average. This does not mean that current teacher salaries or student debt burdens are “right”—only markets can determine that—but it does mean that there is no need for policymakers to intervene in either teacher pay or student aid to assure that college graduates can afford to become public school teachers.

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