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Ruiz, Sarlo Bill to Establish Loan Redemption & Tuition Reimbursement Program for STEM Teachers Passes Senate

Trenton – Legislation sponsored by Senate Education Chair Senator M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Paul Sarlo, which would establish a loan redemption and tuition reimbursement program for STEM public school teachers, passed the Senate today.

“Our global economy is changing and the demand for professionals in the STEM field is increasing exponentially,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “In order for us to continue to grow our labor force we have to start right in our classrooms, by engaging students and nurturing their interest in these subjects. To accomplish this we must encourage more recent graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math to pursue careers in education.”

The bill, S-1832, would establish a loan redemption program and a tuition reimbursement program in the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA) for certain public school teachers who teach science, technology, engineering or math.

“The wage gap between individuals working in STEM careers outside of education versus those who teach science, technology, engineering or math is far wider than any other subject,” said Senator Sarlo (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This bill will create greater financial incentive to teach, rather than take a private sector job and in turn ensures that we have a robust pool of STEM teachers.”

Participants in either program would be eligible to receive up to $20,000 for loan redemption after they had taught STEM in a public school for at least four years.

Under the bill, HESAA would be required to submit an annual report to the Governor and to the Legislature on the program. The report would include information on the total number of participants, the impact of the program on attracting STEM teachers, and the number of participants who withdrew from prior to completing the program.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 31-0.