DENVER (KDVR) – A state bill that advanced in the Capitol on Thursday would offer students striving to enter the teaching workforce the financial security needed to do so. It would do this by reallocating $50 million in federal pandemic relief funds toward the creation of programs designed to ease new educators’ financial woes.

Early Friday morning, HB22-1220, alternatively known as the “Removing Barriers To Educator Preparation” bill, will undergo House Floor Work in the House Chamber following its preliminary approval in the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

“We are taking a multi-pronged approach to address Colorado’s teacher shortage, and that includes breaking down financial barriers to entering the profession,” said Rep. Barbara McLachlan.

The bill would fund two stipend programs for two years, forgive a portion of student loans for qualified student educators, and remove hurdles between prospective educators and temporary educator licenses.

HB22-1220: Proposed stipends

According to the bill, if fully approved, one of the two financial support systems that it would establish is the “student educator stipend program,” which would give money to eligible students partaking in educator preparation programs or academic residencies.

  • An eligible student educator in a 16-week academic residency could receive $11,000.
  • An eligible student educator in a 32-week academic residency could receive $22,000.

The second stipend system it would establish is the educator test stipend program, which would award funding to approved programs of preparation.

After being awarded the funding, those recipients would then use it to pay eligible student educators participating in their specific program, essentially cutting out the need for those students to have a second or third job to pay the fees and costs accrued during the pursuit of an educational certificate.

HB22-1220: Proposed student loan forgiveness

Additionally, the bill includes $10 million in funding destined for loan forgiveness for recently hired educators. Around 2,000 teachers that entered the field of academia during the pandemic could each be eligible for $5,000 in loan forgiveness.

“Colorado is facing a critical teacher shortage and pandemic pressures have heightened the situation,” said Rep. Cathy Kipp of Fort Collins. “Our bill saves teachers money through loan forgiveness and student educator stipends so more talented educators can enter the profession without the financial burden.”

HB22-1220: New path toward ‘initial teacher license’

Current Colorado law allows those student educators who qualify but have yet to meet every requirement needed to apply for the applicable initial educator license and get a temporary educator eligibility authorization from the Colorado Department of Education. The new bill would expand this to student educators participating in approved alternative teacher programs.

“To prepare students for success, we need more teachers in the classroom and this bill will boost their workforce,” explained Kipp.

Lead sponsors of the bill are Kipp, McLachlan, Sen. Rachel Zenzinger and Sen. Don Coram.