Get Rid of your Student Loan Debt Once and for All – 6 Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs
If you are still struggling with student debt, have you looked into teacher loan forgiveness programs?
Here I outline 6 student loan forgiveness programs for teachers. Please check them out, you may qualify to get some or all of your student loans forgiven!
1) Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
The Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program was initialized in 2007 with the aim of encouraging more people to work in public service, including at schools. PSLF forgives William D. Ford Direct Loans (including direct PLUS loans, direct consolidation loans, direct subsidized loans, and direct unsubsidized loans).
However, PSLF will not start facilitating the forgiveness of any loans until October 2017. The reason for this timeline is that a condition of this program is that you must make 120 consecutive payments on your loans.
Please see the PSLF eligibility requirements here. To summarize the conditions for qualifying for this program, you must:
- Make the aforementioned 120 consecutive (10 years!), of on-time, full payments, starting no earlier than 10/1/2007
- Work full-time in the Peace Corps, Americorps, or a public service organization (schools qualify!) for the entire time the payments were made
This is definitely a difficult program to qualify for, but if you are still going to be in debt in October 2017 (or when you have otherwise made 120 consecutive payments after that) and meet the above conditions, than this program is well worth looking into. See the PSLF certification form here.
2) Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness
The goal of the Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness program is to encourage people to become (and remain) teachers. It is a generous program that allows for up to $17,500 in teacher loan forgiveness.
Here is a summary of the eligibility requirements for this program:
- Eligible loan types include unsubsidized student loans and direct subsidized loans
- The loans must have been established after 10/1/98, and at least one of the teaching years must be after the 1997-1998 school year.
- You cannot be in default
- You must work for five consecutive, full years as a teacher, at least one of the years at a qualifying school:
- The qualifying school must be in a Title I qualified district
- The qualifying school must have more than 30% of students qualified for Title I services
- The qualifying school must be listed in the government’s directory of qualifying schools.
- Teachers at a qualifying educational service agency are also eligible
In most cases, teachers are eligible to get $5,000 of their loans forgiven. “Highly qualified” math, science, and special education teachers may be eligible to receive up to the full $17,500 in teacher loan forgiveness.
3) Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation
With the Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation program you can get up to 100% of your Perkins loans forgiven, including any interest you have accrued! Teachers only have to teach full time for a year to receive benefits:
- You will get 15% of your loan cancelled after years one and two.
- For years three and four, you will get 20% more of the loan cancelled each year
- In the fifth year, you will get the final 30% of your Federal Perkins loan cancelled.
Here’s what qualifies for the Perkins loan cancellation program. You can:
- Teach in a school that serves students from low-income families (see if your school qualifies as “low-income” here) or;
- Be a special education teacher (including for infants and toddlers) or;
- Teach in a field that your state has defined as having a teacher shortage in, such as science, bilingual education, math, foreign language, etc. or;
- Teach at a private school that is a nonprofit or;
- Teach part-time at multiple schools, as long as you meet the other requirements or;
- Teach preschool or pre-K, only if your state classifies them as part of elementary education
To get the application form for this program, contact the office where you went to college that administers the Federal Perkins Loan program.
4) Stafford Loan Forgiveness
The popular Stafford Loan Forgiveness program provides qualified individuals up to $17,500 in teacher loan forgiveness.
However, it is a very difficult program to qualify for. You must:
- Work full-time for 5 consecutive years at a Title I qualified elementary or secondary school, with 30% of students who qualify for Title I services or at a school listed in the Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools
- Not be in loan default
- Not have taken out any direct loans or FEEL Program Loans before 10/1/98.
One big plus of this program is that teachers can take advantage one of the Federal Student Loan Forbearance programs during those five years. If you are having difficulties making payments, this is a great option and could really help your short-term finances.
5) Federal TEACH Grants
The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant program provides up to $4,000 per year to qualifying college students who will become teachers.
TEACH Grants are unique in that they are the only type of teacher loan forgiveness provided before debt is accumulated. Other loan forgiveness programs, of course, provide forgiveness after you have taken on student debt.
These grants will provide as much as $4,000 per year to college students who:
- Intend to teach at a school that serves primarily students from low-income families
- Are enrolled in a teaching credential providing program
- Plan to teach full-time for at least 4 years
- Plan to teach in a “high-need” field
6) State and City Sponsored Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs
Fortunately, there are also many state and city teacher loan forgiveness programs. Rather than list them here, I will share with you an excellent resource.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has put together a searchable database of state and city loan forgiveness programs, classroom donation programs, as well as various awards and grants.
In addition, your district school board should be able to point you in the direction of any city or county funded loan forgiveness programs.
Save Money on Your Student Loans and Get $100!
If you cannot get all of your loans forgiven with teacher loan forgiveness programs, please also consider student loan refinancing. One great company that you can reduce the cost of your student loans with is Sofi. Fixed rates start at 3.50% and variable rates start as low as 2.13% APR (with utoPay). Sofi members save an average of $14,000! Apply here and you will receive a $100 bonus when you refinance.
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