Kemp OKs student loan repayment for nursing faculty, medical examiners

Gov. Brian Kemp signed several bills Thursday related to higher education.  (Arvin Temkar/AJC FILE PHOTO)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Gov. Brian Kemp signed several bills Thursday related to higher education. (Arvin Temkar/AJC FILE PHOTO)

Gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday signed bills to help college nursing instructors and state medical examiners repay their student loans.

The bills are aimed at recruiting and retaining workers in those hard-to-fill jobs.

“The demand for a well-educated and skilled workforce has never been higher than it is today,” said Kemp, in a written statement. “Thanks to our partners in the General Assembly, we’re leading the way in training, growing, and retaining a workforce prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

Senate Bill 246 incentivizes nursing faculty members with at least a master’s degree in nursing to remain in teaching instead of leaving for potentially more lucrative nursing jobs. Officials have said one way to address Georgia’s nursing shortage is to make sure there’s enough teachers to train students who want to enter the profession.

Nursing faculty members who are currently employed and have been employed for at least a year in a nursing program within the University System of Georgia or the Technical College System of Georgia can get up to $100,000 in student loan repayments over five years.

Kemp approved House Bill 163, which will pay off up to $120,000 in student loans for Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiners over five years.

Another Kemp-backed bill, to help Georgia police officers repay their student loans, failed to pass the Legislature this session.

Kemp also signed House Bill 607, which could change the ACT test score that students need to qualify for the Zell Miller Scholarship.

Georgia students have needed to earn at least a 1200 on the SAT or a 26 on the ACT to be eligible for the merit-based award, in addition to having a 3.7 high school grade point average.

Going forward, the Georgia Student Finance Commission will decide annually what the required ACT score should be using a 1200 score on the SAT as the equivalent.

Lawmakers previously said that a student who scores a 1200 on the SAT is in roughly the 75th percentile of test-takers, while a 26 score on the ACT is about the 82nd percentile. To make the scores comparable, the required ACT score should be lowered to a 25.

Other bills signed by Kemp during the Coweta County ceremony at West Georgia Technical College include Senate Bill 86. It will create a three-year pilot program to provide funding for high school students to take courses in high-demand career fields through college dual enrollment programs.