Legislature(2001 - 2002)
02/07/2001 08:10 AM EDU
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 37 - STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS Number 1888 CHAIR BUNDE announced the next order of business as HOUSE BILL NO. 37, "An Act relating to reimbursement of certain student loans; and providing for an effective date." CHAIR BUNDE asked if there was any more public testimony. Hearing none, he closed public testimony. REPRESENTATIVE GUESS asked Representative Stevens if he would consider putting in a clause similar to the one in HB 43 on geographically underserved areas or subject shortage to target the problem. Number 1849 REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS responded that there are some excellent issues to discuss. The idea of identifying the needs geographically and the shortages in subject areas, as long as they are identified, could easily be pulled in to HB 37. In essence, 100 percent forgiveness, one way or the other, accomplishes the same thing whether it is a five-year forgiveness, freshman through graduate school, in HB 37 or beyond 60 hours in HB 43; in the end he thinks it is a similar dollar amount. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN reminded the committee: If they take 100 applicants in year one, by the time we get to year three, that may be down to 20 or 25 because we've lost all these people who are not going to finish. So now we're talking about only using about whatever ratio ... that would be the group that would end up with effectively 50 percent of their loan pre-paid, not this big group that dropped out, and that's the difference between the two bills. REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS clarified that the student would not receive forgiveness unless he/she was teaching in HB 37. He commented: A lot of the discussion that has occurred is under the assumption that if you don't actually graduate, you somehow have failed.... There's a tremendous advantage to our state when people take any classes at the university or college. This does not apply, but still I ... keep hearing this that it's a failure, and you're not contributing to society if you don't actually get a college degree. That's really not true. REPRESENTATIVE JOULE referred to the comment about the university providing about 30 percent of the state's needs for teachers. He asked if that percent takes out the 50 percent who completed the teaching degree but chose not to teach. REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked what information the fiscal note was comprised of. Number 1679 MS. REDMAN answered Representative Joule that the 30 percent total is those who are actually teaching. It does not count the 50 percent of the university graduates who are doing something else. It could potentially be higher. The 30 percent is of all teachers. At the elementary level, close to 68 percent of the need is being filled; the problem is in the specialty areas, many of which the university does not even offer, like foreign languages, physical education, and other specialty areas. REPRESENTATIVE JOULE referred to Ms. Redman's earlier points: "1) that we need to continue to invest in the University; and 2) that 50 percent of the people who did not go into teaching but received their degrees did it because they can get higher pay someplace else." He commented, "We seem to be missing the boat on 50 percent of the people who are already in the system because ... we can't be competitive on the wage market." MS. REDMAN replied that she had said, "Pay was one [reason]. It was the first thing in the polling we do, but the second issue is locale." It's a very significant issue that there are many graduates who want to teach in Anchorage, Fairbanks, or Juneau. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN clarified his comments: I'm not saying that if they don't qualify for this loan that they're failures; by no means do I imply that. I'm just saying that this is a single possibility to try and encourage students to go to school here and teach here, and if they don't do that, they just don't qualify for this loan forgiveness. That in no way means that they're failures. Even if they take one course, ... that's better than not taking any course. CHAIR BUNDE indicated that he would like some conclusion today about HB 37. The committee will hear HB 43 next week. He said that HB 54 is going to be a difficult challenge financially because it spends the Student Loan Corporation's money. Number 1470 REPRESENTATIVE STEVENS made a motion to move HB 37, as amended, from the committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal notes. There being no objection, CSHB 37(EDU) moved from the House Special Committee on Education.