Alabama to Provide Interest-Free Student Loans

By: Clarissa Stephens
By: Clarissa Stephens

Alabama Governor Bob Riley launched a new state-sponsored program that will provide interest-free loans to teachers, nurses, and members of the Alabama National Guard.

The focus of this new student loan program is recruitment and retention. Governor Riley wants to offer teachers, nurses, and those in military service an incentive to stay in the state of Alabama.

The cost of education has skyrocketed in the last decade. Now, a new state sponsored program is coming to the rescue.

Interest free loans are available through the Alabama College Loan Program.

The loans are financed by $100 million dollars in tax exempt revenue bonds issued by the Alabama Higher Education Loan Corporation.

State officials are hoping access to the affordable loans will help solve the shortage of teachers in many areas of the state.

"We have identified three critical areas where teachers are needed. They're need in collaborative special education, math, and science," says Robin Bynum, Ed.D., who is the Assoc. Dean at Troy Univ. College of Education.

A large portion of school leaders have reached the point of retirement and Bynum points this out, as another crucial area of need: to hire and train more effective administrators and counselors.

The new incentive is designed to both attract and keep people in the education profession. The governor hopes to do the same in the field of nursing.

Registered Nurse Pamela Bland heads up the critical care unit at South East Alabama Medical Center, and says there is a high demand for qualified nurses. "It's very important, it's imperative that we attract nurses to our state and community because we need more nurses to care for our aging population," she says. "If this program will enhance and attract caring and compassionate people to our profession, then that's great."

As you can see, for educators and medical personnel in the Wiregrass, this announcement comes as welcome news.

The ACLP will provide the interest-free loans to teachers who hold valid teaching certificates, as well as licensed nurses who've worked in Alabama for at least one consecutive year.

Members of the Alabama Army and Air National Guard called to active duty on or after September 11th are also eligible for the interest-free student loans.


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