South Carolina

Want to graduate college debt free? Teach in a rural area

The teacher shortage in poor, rural districts in South Carolina is so bad, the state is considering offering would-be instructors a way to graduate from college debt free.

But they'd have to teach eight years in the state's neediest districts to get up to $30,000 in loans erased. That's a much longer commitment than the state's existing program that doesn't require teaching in a rural school. It can erase $20,000. Yet, since 2013, it hasn't had enough applicants to spend all $5 million available yearly.

The teacher shortage is nationwide. States are offering to wipe away college loans or increase salaries, but the incentives haven't enticed enough teachers.

In South Carolina, colleges graduate 2,000 fewer teachers than needed. First-year teachers make just slightly more than graduates' average debt of $29,000.