Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH)
When you marry into the military, you go in understanding that being relocated often, and on short notice, is always a possibility. Understandably, this creates some financial uncertainty, and makes career planning for military spouses more difficult.
Many military spouses serve their communities by teaching in local Title I schools. And like others who teach in qualifying schools, they can seek to have their federal student loans forgiven after five consecutive years of service. However, there are strict rules that can have an adverse affect on military spouses who choose to participate in the program. Under the program’s regulations, a teacher who is forced to leave in the middle of a school year due to a transfer of their spouse can no longer continue in the program, since they would fail to meet the consecutive years of service requirement. Currently, there are exceptions for family medical leave, being called to active duty and taking a break to continue your education. But, no such exception exists for relocated military spouses.
After a military spouse from Ohio told me about this shortfall a few months ago, I looked for a solution that would keep these excellent teachers in the loan forgiveness program, and serving these vital schools. My bill, H.R. 3684, the Preserve Teacher Loan Forgiveness for Military Spouses Act, would add an additional exemption should a military family receive a permanent change of station order. If the family relocates, the spouse would have one academic year to find a new teaching job in a qualifying Title I school. This solution is supported by the National Military Families Association and the Military Officers Association of America.
The good news is this is an area where Members of Congress from both parties and across the country agree. Joining me so far on this legislation are Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Steve Russell (R-OK), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Charles Boustany (R-LA), Michael Honda (D-CA) and Tom MacArthur (R-NJ).
To better illustrate why this is a problem in need of a solution, I want to share with you what Lindsay Willmann, a teacher originally from Lebanon, Ohio, told me.