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February 21, 2007 :: State Boosts Financial Awards for Math and Science Teachers

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Oklahoma’s teachers can now receive more than $11,000 if they agree to teach math or science for at least five years after graduation, thanks to a recent increase to a financial incentive program by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

The State Regents added $800 to each teacher’s benefit as part of the Teacher Shortage Employment Incentive Program (TSEIP). With the increase, new teachers who complete a TSEIP agreement after December 2007 will receive $11,148.

“This program is a great idea, and this increase just adds to its appeal,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “We want our new teachers to stay in Oklahoma, and we want our students to improve in math and science. It’s a win-win for the whole state.”

State lawmakers created TSEIP in 2000 to attract and retain more teachers in math and science. The program reimburses student loan expenses for teachers who agree to the program during college, obtain a math or science education degree and teach in an Oklahoma secondary school for at least five years. In 2006, 42 Oklahoma teachers received the TSEIP benefit.

After completing their first five years of teaching, participants return documents to TSEIP, administered by the State Regents, and the incentive is applied toward eligible student loans.

Officials said that any money remaining after the teachers’ student loan expenses have been paid will be given to the individual teachers. For those teachers who do not have any loans to repay, they will instead receive the incentive as a cash award.

Officials requested an increase to the financial benefit so it keeps pace with the cost of college. The legislation that created TSEIP also requires a formula for its incentive amount, which is three times the average annual cost of undergraduate tuition and fees at a state college or university that offers teacher education programs.

Students interested in learning more about TSEIP should contact the education department at their respective college or university or visit the TSEIP Web site at www.okhighered.org/tseip. They may also contact the State Regents Teacher Education Program at (800) 858-1840 or e-mail ssarani@osrhe.edu.