AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would create a student loan repayment program for Texas peace offices who have served at least four consecutive years and commit to a career in law enforcement.
Senate Bill 16 (SB 16), which was written by Senator Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills), passed through the Senate by a unanimous vote of 31-0.
"Our men and women in blue put their lives on the line every day. They deserve our sincere appreciation for doing a tough, and too-often thankless, job," Sen. Hancock said. "This program is designed as a useful recruitment and retention tool for police departments and should be a real financial help to the heroes who serve our communities on a daily basis."
SB 16 directs the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to establish the program and its bylines by December 1, with certain eligibility requirements already outlined in the bill. For example, peace officers must have served four consecutive years as full-time employees – with exceptions for disability leave or active duty military service – and must agree to continued employment in law enforcement for at least four more years.
The outstanding balance and interest of eligible loans could be paid off over a four-year period at a graduated rate of up to $30,000 per officer.
Total funding available for the program would be allocated by each legislature for the subsequent biennium.