JUNEAU (AP) -- A student loan forgiveness bill aimed at teachers cleared its first hurdle in the Legislature on Wednesday.
House Bill 37, which would forgive half an Alaska Student Loan for a graduate who teaches in Alaska five years, passed the House Special Committee on Education. The bill sponsored by Rep. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, next goes to the House Health and Social Services Committee.
The Alaska Student Loan Corp. estimates the measure would cost the state $170,000 the first year and $850,000 a year after five years.
The Special Committee on Education is still looking at House Bill 43, which would forgive part of a teacher's loans, but only if the teacher went to college in Alaska and taught in a subject area or a geographic area where there's a teacher shortage.
Committee Chairman Con Bunde said the panel will take another look next week at that bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Joe Green, R-Anchorage. The Student Loan Corp. hasn't estimated what the most recent version of it will cost.
Bunde cut off discussion Wednesday of a third student loan bill, but didn't rule out bringing it up for another look if the sponsor changes it. House Bill 54, by Rep. John Davies, D-Fairbanks, would provide a lower interest rate for students who return to Alaska to work. It's not limited to a single profession.
Bunde said he didn't like the bill because it would take money from the loan corporation. Corporation Executive Director Diane Barrans said that would push up costs for other borrowers.
Davies said he would amend it to make clear the interest rate subsidy would be paid for out of the state's general fund.
The Student Loan Corp. estimates Davies' measure would cost $250,000 the first year and $4.1 million a year after 15 years.
Students shouldn't start making career plans based on any of the bills yet. They all have to clear at least two more House committees and the full House, go through the same process in the Senate and be signed by the governor.
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