Whether you’re an undergraduate student just earning your degree in education, or a teacher who might be looking into options to pay back their student loans, you’ve probably found yourself wondering, do teachers get student loan forgiveness?
Many teachers are eligible for student loan forgiveness, but it depends on a few different factors. If you teach for a low-income school district and maintain high standards of education for five years, you can be eligible for up to $17,500 of student loan forgiveness through the federal government. Many states offer additional programs that can offer teachers even more student loan forgiveness!
Do you have some student loan debt that you need some help with? Keep on reading to learn how teachers can get student loan forgiveness!
Which Government Programs Offer Student Loan Forgiveness to Teachers?
Several different government programs offer loan forgiveness to teachers. Each of the programs functions a little differently, and you must meet different requirements to receive them.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program
Under this government program, eligible applicants can have up to $17,500 of their student loan debt canceled. To be accepted, applicants must have been employed full-time by a low-income school district for 5 consecutive years, and they must meet the rigorous requirements of being considered a “highly qualified” teacher (read more about these below).
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program
This program is perfect for people who have already been paying off their student loans. Even better, you don’t need to meet a lot of the restrictive requirements of other student loan forgiveness programs!
This program has very broad employment requirements, so you won’t need to work in a low-income school to be eligible for aid. Most secondary and elementary teachers are already eligible without even knowing it!
To qualify for this aid program, you must have direct loans that you have made 120 consistent payments on over 10 years. If you qualify, the rest of your federal direct student loan debt will be eliminated.
Perkins Loan Cancellation for Teachers
In your time as a student, you may have used Perkins loans to help you cover the costs of college. Depending on where you work and the subjects you teach, you may be eligible to have 100% of your Perkins loans canceled over five years.
To qualify for Perkins loan cancellation, you must either work in a low-income school or teach one of several different subject areas. These subject areas include math, science, foreign languages and more, meaning that almost any teacher that used Perkins loans as a student is eligible for loan forgiveness. Even private school teachers can get this type of loan forgiveness, so check the website to find out if you can apply!
What States offer Teachers Student Loan Forgiveness?
Federal aid programs are not the only way that teachers get student loan forgiveness! If you don’t meet the requirements of federal aid programs, you can also get help from state government programs. Many states offer student loan forgiveness to teachers that can be hugely beneficial to teachers who are willing to teach in low-income or low-ranking schools.
One of the best states where teachers get student loan forgiveness is New York! New York values its teachers and offers student loan forgiveness to help find high-quality staff for school districts in need.
Through the Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), eligible New Yorkers can receive up to $5000 per year ($20,000 total) to help cover the cost of their student loans. To apply, you must have been a resident of New York for 12 consecutive months before submitting your application, and you must be employed full-time by a school district in need of highly qualified teachers.
Like New York, California also values its teachers and has good options to help them pay for their student loan debt. Through the California Student Aid Commission, California teachers are eligible for up to $19,000 to put towards their student loan debt.
The best part about this program, called APLE, is that it is available to current teachers and undergraduate students. Other requirements include teaching in a poorly ranked California public school, teaching for four consecutive years and keeping your subject certifications up-to-date through rigorous standardized exams.
Texas is another state that offers student loan forgiveness to teachers. While this program might not offer quite as much as other states, this can still be a great resource for teachers who need help with their student loans. By enrolling in this program, teachers can get up to $2500 to help cover the cost of their loans.
The best part about this program is that there are very few requirements you must meet to apply. To enroll, you must teach in a “shortage teaching field” or a “shortage community” which you can find on their website!
Through the Teacher Shortage Employment Incentive Program (TSEIP), Oklahoma offers math and science teachers reimbursement on their student loans. The amount applicants receive can vary, but nearly all types of student loans can be covered under this program.
To apply, applicants must meet several requirements. First, you must apply before you graduate and you may not be certified to teach before you apply. You need to submit several forms to prove your eligibility. Once your application is approved, you will receive money to pay for your student loans.
An interesting part about this program is that you don’t even need student loans to apply for it. As long as you are a math or science teacher that went through the application process, you will receive a lump sum after five years instead of student loan forgiveness.
How do you Qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness?
The requirements to qualify for student loan forgiveness can vary depending on your location. Most state loan forgiveness programs require teachers to teach in low-income school districts for at least a few consecutive years.
If you want to apply for federal student loan forgiveness, you must meet some additional requirements that vary on the type of loan you have and the type of teacher you are. Federal programs require that you are a “highly qualified teacher,” so you must pass frequent, rigorous exams to test your strengths as an educator. Certain loans can also only be repaid with certain programs, so do your research about the types of loans you have before you start applying!
What is a “Highly Qualified Teacher?”
One common requirement for student loan forgiveness is that applicants must be “highly qualified teachers.” While it isn’t clear right away what makes a teacher highly qualified, some guidelines provide a clear definition.
Officially, there are a few different requirements that you must meet to be considered a highly qualified teacher. The basic requirements, according to The Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA), include having “attained at least a bachelor’s degree, received full state certification as a teacher and not had certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis.”
There are further requirements that depend on the level of students you are teaching. If you are an elementary school teacher, you must pass a state test that determines your knowledge of elementary subject areas like math, reading and writing. If you are a secondary education teacher, you must hold a degree or a state certification in each subject area you want to teach.
The list of requirements goes on for teachers who are not new to the field of education. Teachers who have been teaching for a while must meet all of the requirements that new teachers must meet, in addition to taking regular state tests on competency in your subject area.
How Much of your Student Loan Debt can be Forgiven?
While the amount of student loan debt that can be forgiven varies depending on the program you enroll in, you can generally expect anywhere from $5000 to $20000 in loan forgiveness between state-funded loan forgiveness programs and government loan forgiveness programs.
One thing to watch out for while applying is the limitations on how much aid you can receive. A lot of state programs will not give you help if you are already receiving aid through a federal program, but some programs will only give you aid if you already have money from a federal program.
Don’t be discouraged by all of the requirements! Apply for different programs to maximize the amount of debt that can be forgiven.
Conclusion – How Can Teachers Get Student Loan Forgiveness?
Student loan forgiveness for teachers can be incredibly beneficial to nearly all educators. While most programs require that you teach in low-income school districts or teach specific subjects that are lacking teachers, you can find some aid that nearly all teachers are eligible for!
Now that you know all of the different ways teachers get student loan forgiveness, apply to some programs and find out just how much money you could receive!
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