OU offering debt-free education for teachers

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NORMAN, Okla - Every year, hundreds of students graduate from the University of Oklahoma.

But, too often, they are plucked away by surrounding states offering higher salaries.

"What we are trying to do is keep good teachers here for the future of our state," said Jonathan Johnson.

Jonathan Johnson is among three dozen students that have been selected for a unique program at OU.

The College of Education is offering an incentive for graduates to stay and teach here.

"If we can get them to stick here, for a couple years, my bet is they will put roots down and will help grow Oklahoma communities," Gregg Garn, dean of the OU College of Education, said.

It's called the "Debt Free Teachers Program."

Basically, grads can have up to $5,000 of their debt forgiven for each year they commit to teach in Oklahoma.

They must also agree to work in a "high need" area.

"Special Ed, world languages, Pre k, science and math are the five areas where they struggle for staffing every single year," said Garn.

OU will forgive up to $20,000 in student debt.

"It not only helped me stay out of debt, but also keeps qualified teachers in Oklahoma," Johnson said.

Officials say it's one way to level the playing field in the competitive game of quality education.

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