NPR

Exclusive: Ed Department To Erase Debts Of Teachers, Fix Troubled Grant Program

The move follows an NPR investigation that found thousands of teachers had grants unfairly converted to loans.
Source: Lily Padula for NPR

For public school teacher Kaitlyn McCollum, even simple acts like washing dishes or taking a shower can fill her with dread.

"It will just hit me like a ton of bricks," McCollum says. " 'Oh my God, I owe all of that money.' And it's, like, a knee-buckling moment of panic all over again."

She and her family recently moved to a much smaller, older house. One big reason for the downsizing: a $24,000 loan that McCollum has been unfairly saddled with because of a paperwork debacle at the U.S. Department of Education.

But for McCollum and many public school teachers, it appears the nightmare is nearly over.

The Education Department is releasing a plan Sunday to help these teachers who have been wrongly hit with debts, sometimes totaling tens of thousands of dollars, because of a troubled federal grant program.

The move comes after an almost year-long NPR investigation that brought pressure on the department. In May, the Education Department launched a top-to-bottom review of the program. Amid continued reporting, 19 U.S. senators sent a letter, citing NPR, saying the problems should be fixed.

When NPR breaks the news to McCollum that the Department of Education is going to fix this, she is astonished.

"Are you

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