Are you considering going to college in order to obtain your teaching credentials? Are you already a college student who is majoring in education? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you are in luck! There are a variety of loan forgiveness programs that were created to help teachers pay back their student loans from college. The majority of these programs are available through the federal government, but most states have their own specific programs as well. Thus, if you spend some time planning how to finance your education, you can graduate with minimal debt if you plan to be a teacher.
What Federal Programs are Available?
There are two main federal programs that aim to forgive teacher student loans. Below is a brief description of each program. Be certain to note that the program type is loan specific, meaning that all loans are not eligible for both programs.
Teacher Cancellation: This program is open exclusively to student borrowers who will obtain (or who have already obtained) funding through the Federal Perkins Loan Program. This program was created in order to attract high quality teachers to low-income schools and for high need subject areas. In order to be eligible for this program, teachers must work in an elementary, middle, or high school system as a full-time teacher. The school must serve mainly low-income students. Alternatively, teachers who agree to teach a high need field, such as a foreign language, math, or science can also be eligible for loan cancellation. Special education teachers can also qualify for this program.
Teachers must be employed for at least one year in order to be eligible for loan cancellation. At the beginning of the year, teachers can find a list of low-income schools that are eligible for this program, at this link.
You may wonder how much money this program can save you. This program is one of the best, because it permits up to 100% forgiveness of your student loan! The exact amount that you can earn depends on the number of years that you teach in a low-income school or high need area. However, you can have 15% of the total loan canceled per year for the first and second years that you serve. During the third and fourth years of service, an additional 20% of the loan is canceled per year. In the fifth year of service, up to 30% of the loan can be canceled. The cancellation amount also includes any interest that accrued during that year. Additional information about the Teacher Cancellation Program for the Federal Perkins Loan Program can be found here.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness: This program is geared to recruit new teachers and retain students who are already majoring in education. It is only open to students who take out Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized loans as well as Federal Stafford Loans. In order to be eligible for forgiveness through the program, the applicant must have taught at an elementary or secondary school on a full-time basis for at least five years. In addition to the basic requirements, the teacher must also hold full state teaching certification for the duration of their five-year service. Only teachers who teach at low-income schools are eligible for this award.
In order to apply for this award, the teacher is required to fill out an application, which can be found here. The application is called the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application. A chief officer at the school where you have served is required to vouch for your service. Thus, you should only complete this form after you have completed your five years of service. You can combine service from more than one school, provided that the total time at eligible schools is at least five years. In this case, you will need a signature from an administrative officer at each school to show that you are eligible. Once you have filled out the application in its entirety and obtained all necessary letters from the schools where you served, you must submit this paperwork to your loan servicer or loan holder. If you have multiple loan servicers or loan holders, you should make a copy of the application and send it to each of them.
The amount you can receive through this program depends entirely on the amount of loans you took out to fund your education and the amount remaining on these loans. However, students can receive up to a total of $17,500 in loan forgiveness through this process.. Keep in mind, this award can only be applied to loans that are considered Federal Stafford Loans or Direct Loans. Additional information about the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program can be found at this website.
What Other Teacher Forgiveness Programs are Available?
While the federal programs are wonderful, they only apply to students who took out certain types of loans to fund their education and who agree to work in an underserved school. There are many reasons why you may not be eligible for the federal programs. Perhaps you are unable to commute to a low-income school or were offered a job somewhere else. Perhaps you accepted a job at a private school, which is not an eligible school under the federal loan forgiveness guidelines. However, there are other options to consider!
Most states have resources to encourage teachers to work in their state. As such, they offer loan forgiveness to teachers in a certain county or in a certain subject. For example, the state of Texas offers a variety of state resources, which can be found here. Mississippi provides students with the option to earn up to $3,000 per year (for a maximum of four years) as loan forgiveness. Iowa provides students with 20% of the student’s eligible loan or a maximum of $6,658 for teaching in their state. There are plenty of other programs out there on a state-by-state basis. All it takes is a little bit of research.
Image Copyright Marco Antonio Torres.