Some teachers who graduate from OU won't have to pay back a large chunk of their student debt. That's because of a new initiative created by the university to help keep quality teachers in Oklahoma.
Fifty percent of teaching students who graduate from OU will do so with as much as $21,000 in debt. The debt-free teachers’ initiative would completely change that.
“Every student that needs support that comes to the University of Oklahoma, we can give every teacher the ability to graduate without debt,” explains Autumn McMahon, Development Director for the Jeannie Rainbolt College of Education at OU.
The debt-free teachers’ initiative, possibly the first in the nation, is based on similar programs used to recruit doctors to rural areas. McMahon says a majority of teachers who graduate from OU leave for jobs in other states which pay much more.
In this program, graduates who enter high-need areas such as math, science, early childhood education and special education would qualify for up to $5,000 in debt forgiveness each year for four years if they agree to stay in Oklahoma and teach.
“So it keeps great teachers here. It keeps great teachers in front of our children,” said McMahon.
The program is funded by private donations and just in the past five months the university has raised $3.1 million, enough money to offer debt forgiveness to 10 teachers.
“To be able to say we believe in you, we have such faith in what you are going to do and what you’re going to change in Oklahoma, here let us help you, let us make your life a little easier,” said McMahon.
The fundraising goal for the initiative is $10 million dollars.