Student Loan Forgiveness for Teachers

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Susan Kelly

Dec 31, 2022

Although teaching is a respectable occupation, most people see it as something other than one of the most comfortable jobs available. However, it does provide a benefit that many other occupations do not: the cancellation of student loans.

These programs do not apply to private loans; if you have private loans, speak with your lender about the many flexible repayment alternatives available. Here is all you need to know about requesting the federal government to forgive your student debts.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

  • To be eligible, you must have worked as a full-time teacher for a minimum of 5 consecutive years in a low-income secondary or elementary school that meets the requirements.
  • Those who have federal Direct or Stafford loans are eligible for this program.
  • Teachers of secondary mathematics or science or teachers of special education who previously worked in either elementary or secondary education may be eligible for loan forgiveness of up to $17,500.
  • Full-time elementary or secondary school teachers with high qualifications who did not teach subjects such as mathematics, science, or special education are eligible for loan forgiveness of up to $5,000.

Best for

Teachers with teaching credentials do not have significant student loan debt. The program provides loan forgiveness faster, although it is less generous than the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

How to get it

Use the Teacher Cancellation Low Income Directory to see whether the school where you are employed qualifies for the program. The subject areas will determine the sum forgiven from your debt and the grade levels you teach. Forgivable loans of up to $17,500 are available to secondary school teachers who teach science, mathematics, and special education. Forgivable loans of up to $5,000 are available to secondary and elementary school teachers who teach other subjects.

To be eligible, applicants must fill out the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application and deliver it to their respective loan servicers after their fifth consecutive year of teaching. One of the form sections will need to be filled out by either your superintendent, principal or human resources officer. You will need one person from each qualifying school you worked at over the last five years to fill out that part. If you worked at numerous qualified schools during that period.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

  • To be eligible, you must have worked for the government or a nonprofit organization for a minimum of ten years.
  • Borrowers who have direct loans from the federal government are eligible. To qualify for this program, you must first combine any other forms of federal student loans you may already have.

Get 100% of your remaining federal student debt canceled once you've made 120 on-time payments. These payments don't need to be made one after the other; you may still qualify even if you have had periods of deferral or forbearance, for example.

Best for

Teachers who have a significant amount of debt or who wish to change jobs but are concerned about losing their eligibility for loan forgiveness. A teacher, for instance, might go into an administration post at their school or another nonprofit organization and still be eligible for PSLF program. Make your 120 required payments using an income-driven repayment plan to get the most benefit from the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

How to get it

Send FedLoan Servicing, the corporation that manages PSLF program, an employment certification form from each of the jobs you've had during the time that you made your 120 payments against your student loan. It is recommended that you complete these steps whenever you change employment; however, it is possible to do so retrospectively. The Department of Education will transfer your student loans to FedLoan Servicing if you do not currently have them serviced by the company.

After completing 120 qualifying payments, you can apply for PSLF. The PSLF program began in 2007, meaning no debtors can qualify for forgiveness via it until at least October 2017 since the application is not yet online.

Perkins Loan Cancellation

  • You must be employed full-time at a qualifying public or nonprofit school listed in the Teacher Cancellation Low Income Directory to be eligible. Alternatively, you may teach a subject with a designated teacher shortage, such as special education, mathematics, science, a foreign language, bilingual education, or another topic.
  • Only borrowers who have federal Perkins loans are eligible for this program.
  • You might get up to one hundred percent of your federal Perkins loans canceled.

Best for

Teachers who are recipients of federal Perkins loans. However, this program, which was never very large, to begin with, is being phased down. Beginning on September 30, 2017, undergraduate students will no longer be eligible for Perkins loans, and graduate borrowers will only have until September 30, 2016, to participate in the program.

How to get it

Submit your application through the institution that granted you Perkins loans. 15% of your amount will be forgiven after the first and second years of teaching, 20% after the third and fourth, and 30% after the fifth year, provided you meet the eligibility requirements.


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