Nebraska Student Teachers Could Receive Full Tuition Waivers

In 2025, Nebraska student teachers may be eligible for 100% tuition waivers as per a legislative proposal currently before the session.

State Sen. Kathleen Kauth of Omaha has put forth Legislative Bill 953 to back students pursuing teaching degrees within the University of Nebraska and Nebraska State College System during their student teaching terms.

During a Feb. 13 Education Committee session on the bill, Kauth emphasized, “Encouraging and supporting prospective teachers will help us rebuild our teacher population.”

The initiative, slated to span six school years until 2030-31, is estimated to incur about $15 million in forgone tuition revenue. To counter this, up to $3 million in annual appropriations would prevent passing on costs to other students or programs, as mentioned by Kristen Hassebrook, a NU lobbyist.

Chancellor Paul Turman of the state college system underscored the importance of addressing financial barriers faced by student teachers in their final year of training, highlighting the disparities in stipends received by educators in different districts.

Winona Mitchell, a first-generation college student studying secondary education at UNL, testified on the financial stress student teachers endure, emphasizing that managing multiple jobs alongside student teaching is unrealistic.

Deb Rasmussen, hailing from Lincoln, and also president of the Lincoln Education Association, reflected on the financial challenges faced by student teachers and the evolving landscape of teaching since her own student teaching days in the 1980s.

Sen. Kauth emphasized the temporary nature of the proposed measure to alleviate financial pressures on prospective teachers, suggesting a potential extension if needed in the future.

Colby Coash of the Nebraska Association of School Boards commended LB 953 as a significant step towards addressing the teacher shortage crisis and expressed hope for its positive impact in the education sector.

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