If you currently are a teacher, or you are seeking a career in teaching, you understand that one of the main requirements is having at least a bachelor’s degree. To get a bachelor’s degree, you need to pay for college or find ways to have your college paid for, which typically means that you will have student loans, federal student aid, and/or scholarships.
Student loans need to be repaid unless your student loan debt is forgiven, canceled, or discharged by your job, or a special circumstance such as disability, or bankruptcy, you need to have a way to repay it.
In this guide, you will learn about your options for student loan forgiveness for teachers, basic requirements for teachers, how to be eligible for loan forgiveness, and what steps you need to take to apply.
f you want help exploring your loan forgiveness options, or have questions about your options, contact our office and speak with an experienced student loan advisor for assistance.
What Are Student Loan Forgiveness Options For Teachers?
If you are looking to have your student loans forgiven, canceled, or discharged, you should know what options are available to you.
Here are your options that can help you with your student loan debt:
Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program
This program is for individuals who teach full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years in a low-income school or educational service agency and meet other qualifications, you could be eligible for forgiveness of up to $17,500 on your Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and your Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans.
To qualify, you must meet the following requirements:
- Teach at a low-income school
- Not be in default with your student loans
- Not have any loans that originated before 1998
- Healthcare Social Worker
For this program, you can receive either up to $5,000 or up to $17,500 depending on your role as a teacher. For example:
If you are a full-time elementary or secondary school teacher, and you are teaching within your academic major you can receive up to $5,000. To receive up to $17,500 you must be a highly qualified full-time math or science teacher in an eligible secondary school. You can also receive this award if you’re a highly qualified special education teacher and if you meet certain requirements.
This program is for people in careers within the public service sector. After making 120 on-time, qualified monthly payments, the remaining balance of the loan is forgiven and the forgiven amount is not taxable by the IRS.
The eligibility requirements for this program include the following:
- Must be in certain public sector jobs and employed full time
- Must have made 120 payments starting from Oct. 1, 2007
- Payments must be made as part of certain repayment plans
- Not be in default
Perkins Loan Cancelation Program– If you have Federal Perkins student loan debt, this program will forgive up to 100% of the debt, up to $27,500, if you teach specific subjects or you are a teacher at a low-income school.
The requirements for this program include:
- Teach for a minimum of one-year
- Teach at a low-income school (search the directory)
- Teach special education
- Teach in mathematics, science, foreign languages or bilingual education
- Teach in a field that has a shortage of qualified teachers in your state
After 5 years, you will have 100% debt cancellation of your Federal Perkins Loans. Each year you will receive a percentage of your Federal Perkins Student Loan Debt forgiven. This is how it would look:
- First-year: 15% cancellation
- Second-year: 15% cancellation
- Third-year: 20% cancellation
- Fourth-year: 20% cancellation
- Fifth-year: 30% cancellation
State programs that offer loan forgiveness– Depending on the state you live and teach in, there could be additional programs that are provided by the state that will forgive your loans.
Who Is Considered A Highly Qualified Teacher?
There are basic requirements to be considered a highly qualified teacher. These qualifications vary depending on the type of teacher you are.
- Some of these requirements include the following:
- attained at least a bachelor’s degree;
- received full state certification as a teacher; not
- had certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis.
Highly qualified as an elementary school teacher who is new to the profession:
- Should demonstrate knowledge and teaching skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and other areas of the basic elementary school curriculum based on a state evaluation test.
As of September 2017, Perkins Loans are no longer available. However, if you received a Perkins loan before the program ended you could qualify for Perkins loan cancellation. This program will cancel anywhere from 50% to 100% of your debt from Perkins Loans.
Highly qualified requirements as a middle or secondary school teacher who is new to the profession:
- Pass a state academic subject test in each of the academic subjects in which you teach
- Complete an academic major, a graduate degree, course work equivalent to an undergraduate academic major, or advanced certification or credential in each of the academic subjects you teach.
Highly qualified requirements as an elementary, middle, or secondary school teacher who is not new to the profession:
- Meet the applicable requirements for an elementary, middle, or secondary school teacher who is new to the profession
- Demonstrate knowledge in all subjects that you teach based on a uniform state standard of evaluation.
How Do I Apply For Loan Forgiveness?
If you wish to be considered for student loan forgiveness for teachers, you need to complete an application and submit it to your loan servicer once you have completed your five years of service.
What You Should Know
You can receive forgiveness under the PSLF and the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. However, loan payments made during your 5- year service requirement do not count towards the 120-payments needed for PSLF.
We Can Help
You don’t have to let the cost of higher education prevent you from enjoying a career as a teacher. If you need help with determining the best route to take for student loan forgiveness for teachers, or you are unsure how to proceed, contact our office and speak with one of our professional student loan advisors.