Teachers need a whole lot more than a few narrowly targeted and not particularly generous student loan forgiveness programs.
Student loan forgiveness programs for the benefit of teachers include Public Service Loan Forgiveness and:
- Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation for Teaching Service
- Stafford Loan Forgiveness for Teachers
- State, local and private loan repayment assistance programs
Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Teachers
Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation for Teaching Service
*Required Teaching Service
If you have a loan from the Federal Perkins Loan Program, you may qualify for cancellation (discharge) of some or all of that loan if you have served full-time in a public or nonprofit elementary or secondary school system as a:
teacher in a school serving students from low-income families; or a
special education teacher; or a
teacher in the fields of mathematics, science, foreign languages, or bilingual education, or in any other field of expertise determined by a state education agency to have a shortage of qualified teachers in that state.
Database of Low-Income Schools
Each year, the U.S. Department of Education publishes a list of low-income elementary and secondary schools. To find out if a school is classified as a low-income school, check the Department of Education website and go through their database.
Length of Teaching Service Determines Amount of Cancellation
Up to 100 percent of the Federal Perkins Loan may be canceled for teaching service, in the following increments:
- 15 percent canceled per year for the first and second years of service
- 20 percent canceled for the third and fourth years
- 30 percent canceled for the fifth year
You don’t need to be certified or licensed to receive Perkins cancellation benefits.
How to apply for Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation
The Federal Perkins Loan is a “campus-based loan,” so unlike most federal loans, the school you attended when you borrowed the loan is responsible for administering the Federal Perkins Loan. To apply for cancellation, ask your school’s financial aid office about its process.
Stafford Loan Forgiveness for Teachers
The Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program for Teachers is intended to encourage individuals to enter and remain in the teaching profession. Teachers can receive some amount of loan forgiveness if they teach for five consecutive academic years in schools or educational service agencies that serve low-income families, and meet a whole bunch of other requirements. The amount of forgiveness depends upon a lot of things (see below), and can be as much as $17,500.
Required Teaching Service
To be eligible:
- You must have been employed in an elementary or secondary school listed in the Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefit or an elementary or secondary school operated by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) or operated on an Indian reservation by Indian tribal groups under contract with BIE.
- You must have been employed as a full-time teacher for five complete and consecutive academic years after the 1997–98 academic year (AmeriCorps service cannot be counted).
- You must be a “new borrower.” You are a “new borrower” only if you did not have an outstanding balance on a federal student loan as of Oct. 1, 1998, or on the date that you obtained a Direct Loan or FFEL Program loan after Oct. 1, 1998.
- The loans for which you are seeking forgiveness must have been made before the end of your five academic years of qualifying teaching service.
- You must not be in default on the loan.
Type and Timing of Teaching Service Determine Amount of Forgiveness
To be eligible for the maximum award of $17,500, you must be certified by the chief administrative officer of the school where you were employed as:
- a full-time mathematics or science teacher in a secondary school, or a highly qualified full-time teacher of mathematics or science to secondary students at an educational service agency; or
- a highly qualified full-time special education teacher who taught children with disabilities at an elementary or secondary school or educational service agency. In addition, you must have taught children with disabilities that corresponded to your area of special education training, and you must have demonstrated knowledge and teaching skills in the content areas of the elementary or secondary school curriculum.
If you don’t meet the above requirements, you may be eligible for smaller amounts of forgiveness–up to $5,000 if you were:
- a full-time elementary school teacher at an elementary school or educational service agency who demonstrated knowledge and teaching skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and other areas of the elementary school curriculum; or
- a full-time secondary school teacher or teacher of secondary students at an educational service agency who taught in a subject area relevant to your academic major; or
- if your five years of qualifying teaching service began on or after Oct. 30, 2004, and you were a highly qualified full-time elementary or secondary school teacher at a low-income elementary or secondary school or educational service agency
More details about the definition of a “highly qualified teacher”
To be considered a highly qualified teacher for Stafford Loan Forgiveness for Teachers, a public elementary or secondary school teacher must:
- have obtained full state certification as a teacher or passed the state teacher licensing examination, and holds a license to teach in that state, except that when used with respect to any teacher teaching in a public charter school, the term means that the teacher meets the requirements set forth in the state’s public charter school law; and
- have not had certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis.
In addition to the above—
An elementary school teacher who is new to the profession is considered highly qualified if he or she also:
- holds at least a bachelor’s degree; and
- has demonstrated, by passing a rigorous state test, subject knowledge and teaching skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and other areas of the basic elementary school curriculum (which may consist of passing a state-required certification or licensing test or tests in reading, writing, mathematics, and other areas of the basic elementary school curriculum).
A middle or secondary school teacher who is new to the profession is highly qualified if the teacher also:
- holds at least a bachelor’s degree; a
- has demonstrated a high level of competency in each of the academic subjects in which the teacher teaches by:
- passing a rigorous state academic subject test in each of the academic subjects in which the teacher teaches (which may consist of a passing level of performance on a state-required certification or licensing test or tests in each of the academic subjects in which the teacher teaches); or
- successful completion, in each of the academic subjects in which the teacher teaches, of an academic major, a graduate degree, course work equivalent to an undergraduate academic major, or advanced certification or credentialing.
An elementary, middle, or secondary school teacher who is not new to the profession is highly qualified if the teacher also:
- holds at least a bachelor’s degree; and
- meets the applicable standards of an elementary, middle, or secondary school teacher who is new to the profession; or
- demonstrates competence in all the academic subjects in which the teacher teaches based on a high objective uniform state standard of evaluation that:
- is set by the state for both grade-appropriate academic subject matter knowledge and teaching skills;
- is aligned with challenging state academic content and student academic achievement standards and developed in consultation with core content specialists, teachers, principals, and school administrators;
- provides objective, coherent information about the teacher’s attainment of core content knowledge in the academic subjects in which a teacher teaches;
- is applied uniformly to all teachers in the same academic subject and the same grade level throughout the state;
- takes into consideration, but is not based primarily on, the time the teacher has been teaching in the academic subject;
- is made available to the public upon request; and may involve multiple, objective measures of teacher competency.
Teaching at an educational service agency may qualify if the consecutive five-year period includes qualifying service at an eligible education service agency performed after the 2007–08 academic year.
How to apply for teacher loan forgiveness?
Contact us at the Student Loan Center by calling our toll free line: 877-433-7501 and we will gladly help you in the application process.