Section 19A. There shall be a student loan repayment program known as the attracting excellence to teaching program, for the purpose of encouraging outstanding students to teach in the public schools of the commonwealth by providing financial assistance for the repayment of qualified education loans, as defined below. The program shall be administered by the board of education in accordance with guidelines promulgated by the board of higher education. The program shall be subject to appropriation.
The term ''qualified education loan'' shall mean any indebtedness including interest on such indebtedness incurred to pay tuition or other direct expenses incurred in connection with the pursuit of an undergraduate or graduate degree by an applicant, but shall not include loans made by any person related to the applicant.
The council shall promulgate guidelines governing the attracting excellence to teaching program. These guidelines shall include the following provisions:
(1) eligibility for the program shall be limited to persons who have graduated in the top 15 per cent of their undergraduate classes or who have graduated with honors designations, as certified by the institution attended by any such applicant;
(2) eligibility shall be limited to persons entering the teaching profession after July first, nineteen hundred and ninety-four;
(3) the commonwealth shall repay a participating teacher's student loan at a rate not to exceed one hundred and fifty dollars per month for a period not to exceed forty-eight months;
(4) repayment shall be made to the participating teacher annually upon the presentation by the participating teacher of satisfactory evidence of payments under the loan;
(5) payments by the commonwealth shall cover only loan payments made by the participating teacher in the months during which the participating teacher teaches in public school in the commonwealth;
(6) the program may or may not be limited to teachers who teach in school districts designated by the board of education;
(7) the program shall set forth an affirmative action policy and specific annual affirmative action goals. The council shall annually publish a report detailing its efforts to publicize the loan repayment program in order to advance the goals of this affirmative action policy and its success in meeting those goals.
Expenses for administration of the program may be retained in an interest bearing trust fund to be established by the board of education and expended for the costs of administering the program without further appropriation, and any funds remaining in the trust fund at the termination of the program shall be returned to the General Fund.