Did you know that as a teacher, you may have a higher chance of qualifying for Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness? If you are a teacher and looking at what options you have towards student loan forgiveness, you will want to give this article a look. Through our comprehensive guide, we break down all the options you have as a teacher to qualify for student loan forgiveness and how you can make your student loan debt a thing of the past. Let’s tackle your student loan debt together.
Teachers today have one of the hardest jobs across the country. Their job consists of helping to teach the future leaders of our county and provide these students with the information they need to get out there in the world and make something of themselves. With this in mind, it is important first to understand a few things about the space. Teachers around the country are currently being underpaid, where the average teacher in America makes almost $39,000 according to research done by Payscale. Thankfully, we are starting to see more and more teachers pay being increased across the nation. Teachers, when compared to other careers, have the largest set of options towards student loan forgiveness.
When you consider that student loan debt per person is hovering right around $37,000 per person, you can see that there is very little room as a teacher to have money for yourself or your day to day living expenses. Throughout this article, we will be providing you with four main ways you can qualify for student loan forgiveness as a teacher. If you are not a teacher but still looking for student loan forgiveness programs, we have created a comprehensive list of these programs that can be found under our resources tab in the navigation.
Before we dive any deeper into teacher student loan forgiveness, we will be highlighting the four main ways you can qualify for these programs. The four main programs that will allow you to be considered for teacher-student loan forgiveness are:
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- Teacher Loan Forgiveness
- Perkins Teacher Loan Forgiveness
- State-Based Loan Repayment Assistance Programs
Not ever student loan forgiveness program is the same. Below we break down the benefits of each of these programs and help you make a decision as to what best will fit your needs. Let’s get started with Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
1) Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Public Service Loan Forgiveness or PSLF for short is one of the best ways you will be able to qualify for student loan forgiveness. In order to fully qualify for this program, you must successfully pay on your federal student loans for 120 (10 years) qualifying payments.
One of the biggest benefits compared to other student loan forgiveness options is that the teachers do have by far the most options to qualify for this program. One of the biggest things here is you may not be required to be attending a Title 1 school, which many other programs may require to be considered for PSLF.
Another positive here is that you don’t have to be a teacher to qualify for this program, in fact, any other faculty or staff member will qualify as eligible for teacher-student loan forgiveness. This will include faculty, staff, janitor, teacher’s aid, and many other positions throughout the school. That’s enough of the basics, let’s dive deeper here to cover eligibility and who will qualify.
Who Qualifies As Eligible?
As with some of the other programs highlighted below, you will need to qualify for PSLF. Eligibility will vary based on state and school districts so do keep that in mind. The general guideline in order to be considered consists of the following:
- Must be a full-time employee for one of the following:
- Local Government
Additionally, other businesses that have the following license type will also qualify 501(c)(3).
Which loans are eligible:
The following loans will qualify as eligible through his student loan repayment program.
- Direct PLUS
- Direct Consolidation
- Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized
* As a side note, if you currently have Federal Perkins Loans and/or Family Education Loans (FFEL), these loans are only eligible for PSLF if you at first go through the student loan consolidation process via a Direct Consolidation Loan.
Requirements to be considered for PSLF:
The following are required in order to be considered for PSLF. As a side note, we typically see most users go with the income-driven repayment play. The reason behind this is due to the ability to maximize the amount of debt you will qualify for in regards to forgiveness,
- A minimum of 120 loan payments must have been made consecutively and on time.
- You must be a full-time employee and work for either the State, Federal, or other Local Governments
- All paid loans must be direct loans. Other loans outside of direct loans will not count towards this program
- Finally, you must qualify through one of the following student loan repayment programs
- Pay As You Earn Repayment (PAYE)
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
- Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
- Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
- Standard Repayment (SR)
For more information regarding if you qualify for any of these programs, please reach out to your place of employment.
How to apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness?
- Complete and submit the required Employment Certification Form. As stated earlier you will need to submit this every year for your records and in the case of job changes.
- The FedLoan Servicing sector will take a look at all of your information in order to see if you qualify for their program. Within the review process, you may be asked to submit financial statements such as w-2s, work history, pay stubs, and other historical documentation.
- Once FedLoan has approved you for their program, they will provide you with how many payments you have made in the past qualify for PSLF. They will also provide you with how many additional payments will need to be made in order for you to fully qualify for student loan forgiveness.
2) Teacher Loan Forgiveness
The second option that teachers have is called Teacher Loan Forgiveness. Through this program, teachers may be able to qualify for up to $17,500 towards either Direct or Stafford Loans. Find more information below:
Which loans qualify as eligible?
- Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Direct Student Loans
- Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Student Loans
* As a side note, any form of PLUS Loans (such as a Parent PLUS Loan) is not eligible for the Teacher-Student Loan Forgiveness program.
What are the requirements to be considered for this program?
In order to be qualified for this program, you will need to meet the following criteria:
- You must teach at a low-income school according to your district or state.
- Have no student loans originating before Oct. 1, 1998
- The loans that you have can not be in default
How long will it take to qualify for this program?
For this program, it will typically require five complete and consecutive academic years to qualify for this program. This coincides with the above requirements of working for a low-income school, no loans before Oct. 1, 1998, and finally having no loans in default.
More information on Teacher Loan Forgiveness:
The award amount for this program depends on the role that you have within the district. There are two tiers within the teacher loan forgiveness program.
In the event that you are an elementary school teacher and you are a full-time or full-time secondary school teacher, you may be eligible to qualify for up to $5,000 towards your student loans. The one caveat here is that you must be teaching in an area related to your college major.
In the event that you are a highly qualified full-time science or math teacher in an eligible secondary school, you may be able to qualify for up to $17,500 towards your student loans. Special education teachers may also qualify for this program if they meet certain requirements and are highly qualified.
To be highly qualified according to your state, you must have full state certification as a teacher and/or pass the state teacher licensing exam. Along with this, you will need to hold a state license (with a few exceptions). For example, certain exceptions are made if you are an elementary teacher who holds a bachelor’s degree and can meet other state-specific requirements. Head over to the Federal Student Aid website for more information on this program.
3) Federal Teacher Cancellation for Perkins Loans
The third option that we recommend looking into is the Federal Teacher Cancellation for Perkins Loans. The Federal Perkins Loan program expired back in September 2017, but with that being said if you borrowed money through the program before its expiration date, you may still be able to qualify for the Federal Teacher Cancellation for Perkins Loans.
What are the requirements to be considered for this program?
You are required to teach for a minimum of one year and meet one of the following criteria:
- Teach at a low-income school (search the directory)
- Teach in the special education field
- Teach in mathematics, science, foreign languages, or bilingual education at a low-income district or school
- Teach in a field that has a shortage of qualified teachers in your state (determined by the state/ districts.)
How long will it take to qualify for this program?
In order to qualify for this program, you will need to complete a minimum of one full year teaching. If you meet these requirements you would be eligible to have 100% of your Perkins Loan debt canceled after five years.
More information on Federal Teacher Cancellation for Perkins Loans:
So long as you meet the above requirements, after just one year of teaching, you would be able to have 15% of your outstanding Perkins loan debt canceled after just five years of service.
To apply for this program and learn more about how you may qualify, head over to their requirements page on the Federal Student Aid Website.
States that offer Student Loan Forgiveness for Teachers
Each state may offer some form of student loan forgiveness but we wanted to highlight some of the states that have some of the best programs and perks. See the states listed below:
Arkansas’ State Teacher Education Program provides up to $3,000 to assist educators with repaying their federal student loans. Eligible individuals must teach in areas with a critical shortage or teach an in-demand subject.
Click here for more information about the Arkansas State Teacher Education Program.
Under Delaware’s Teacher Corps initiative, teachers who live and work in Delaware might be eligible for loan forgiveness if they teach a critical need subject. With this program, for one year of teaching in a Delaware public school, you can get forgiveness equal to one year of your loans.
Click here for more information about Delaware’s Teacher Corps Program.
For teachers willing to work in low-income areas, the state of Illinois will award up to $5,000 to help individuals pay back their loan debt. To be eligible, teachers must serve five years in a low-income school.
Click here for more information about the Illinois Teachers Loan Repayment program.
The state of Iowa offers student loan repayment assistance to Iowa educators teaching in designated shortage areas. The maximum reward is $17,500.
Click here to learn more about Iowa’s Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.
Eligible borrowers can have one year of their loan forgiven for each year of eligible service. But the service must be as an educator, speech pathologist, or child care provider. Certain borrowers can have as much as two years of loans forgiven if they work in an underserved area.
Click here to learn more about Educators For Maine (EFM) Loan Program.
If you teach in an underserved or low-income community in Maryland, you could receive up to $10,000 a year to repay your student loans through the Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program.
To qualify for aid, you cannot make more than $60,000 a year if you’re single, or $130,000 if you’re married.
Click here for more information about the Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program.
Teachers in Mississippi may receive up to $3,000 a year for a maximum of four years to pay their loans. Individuals must work in specific geographic areas or teach certain subjects to be eligible.
Click here for more information about the Mississippi Teacher Loan Repayment Program.
Through Quality Educator Loan Assistance, you could receive up to $3,000 per year up to four years to help repay your loans. To qualify, you must be a full-time teacher working in a rural area, a community with a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students, or a region with critical educator shortages.
Unfortunately, this program lost funding in 2017, and it’s unclear if or when it will return. If you’re a Montana resident, you could contact local legislators and request they fund the program for 2019. You can find more information about the Quality Educator Loan Assistance Program here.
If you teach in a designated high-risk teacher position in a public school, you could receive aid through the Teacher Loan Repayment Program. Awards are dependent on the school’s needs for your position and your total amount of debt.
Click here for more information about the Teacher Loan Repayment Program.
The New York State Education Department designed the Teachers of Tomorrow Program to recruit and retain teachers in the schools with the largest need. Eligible teachers can receive up to $3,400 per year for four years.
Click here for more information about the Teachers of Tomorrow Program.
The North Dakota University System provides teachers with $1,000 a year in loan forgiveness, up to a $3,000. Teachers must have a full-time position at a grade level or in an institution that is underserved.
Click here to learn more about North Dakota’s Teacher Shortage Loan Forgiveness Program.
If you teach math or science in Oklahoma, you could be eligible for reimbursement for certain education-related expenses or a cash benefit. The value of the repayment assistance program varies year to year.
Click here for more information about the Teacher Shortage Incentive Program.
The Texas Loan Repayment Assistance Program was designed to recruit and retain teachers in areas that have a shortage of educators. Eligible individuals can receive up to $2,500 towards their federal loans.
Click here for more information about the Texas Loan Repayment Assistance Program.
Keep in mind, state programs come and go more often than federal programs, so don’t delay if you’re eligible to apply.
Even though managing student loans on a teacher’s salary can be overwhelming, there is help out there. Programs that provide student loan forgiveness for teachers are designed to make repaying your debt a little easier.
Learn about other great student loan repayment assistance programs here.