Public school teachers in Tyler, like their colleagues throughout the country, are accustomed to earning a modest salary. In many cases, salaries would rightly be called “low,” especially for those working in schools in low-income areas.
The federal government often provides grants to young college graduates to help encourage them to take these jobs, but it turns out that some of these grants are getting converted into thousands of dollars in debt. Known as TEACH Grants, they are available for teachers who commit to teaching approved subjects in approved low-income schools for a period of four years. The grants can provide as much as $16,000 over the term of the commitment. If a teacher breaks the commitment, the government can require that the sum be paid back, effectively turning it into a loan instead of a grant.
According to a recent report, however, around 12,000 teachers (1 out of every 3) who had their TEACH Grants converted into loans did not break the terms of their commitment. Rather, they made some minor error in the annual grant paperwork, like a missing date or signature on a line somewhere. And the next thing they knew, they were notified that they were on the hook to pay back the funds, that their grants had been converted into debts that the government was now out to collect.
Suddenly finding oneself thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in debt can feel like a cruel joke. In fact, financial paperwork errors can affect many Tyler residents in similar ways; perhaps one intended to choose a certain option on a loan or credit card application and only found out about an error after it was too late. Now you are locked into interest rates, debt amounts or repayment terms that you cannot manage.
For some in this kind of situation, Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be an option to consider. With an automatic stay, Chapter 7 halts debt collection efforts while allowing filers to discharge unsecured debt and obtain a fresh financial start.
Source: National Public Radio, “Why Teachers In High-Need Areas Are Now Saddled With Debt,” Chris Arnold, March 28, 2018