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Funding a college education can be difficult for students these days.

Many students take on significant student loans to pay for their degrees. For those who go into the education field, lower salaries can make this debt seem impossible to crawl out from underneath. If this is you, student loan forgiveness for teachers may be an option you have not considered yet. Or – maybe you have thought about it but need a place to start looking for more information.

Whichever situation applies to you, here are five student loan forgiveness options for teachers.

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Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

This student loan forgiveness plan is specific to those employed as teachers. It may not cover the entirety of your student loan, but it could make a significant dent in what you owe and take some pressure off.

What It Does

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program forgives up to either $5,000 or $17,500 of student loan debt after five years of teaching.

Qualifications

You could qualify if:

  • You are a highly qualified teacher;
  • You have been teaching for five years in an elementary or secondary school OR educational service agency that serves students from low-income households; and
  • Your student loan was made before the end of your five qualifying years.

How much of your loan would be forgiven depends on your teaching area.

  • $17,500 for math, science, and special education
  • $5,000 for teachers in other areas.

Federal Family Education Loans (FFELs) and unsubsidized loans qualify for this program. Consolidated loans may also qualify, depending on the type of loan or loans you were paying off before you consolidated them.

For more information on qualifications and the application process, visit the Teacher Loan Forgiveness page on the Federal Student Aid website.

Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation Program

Like the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, the Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation Program is meant for teachers. However, this program is specific to Federal Perkins Loans. If at least one of the student loans you had to take out was a Perkins loan, this could be a good option to look into.

What It Does

This program discharges up to 100% of Federal Perkins Loans for teachers employed by public or non-profit elementary and secondary school systems. Percentages differ and depend on the number of full academic years you have worked as a teacher.

Qualifications

You are eligible for this program if:

  • You are or have worked in a full-time teaching position in a school that serves low-income students;
  • You are or have worked as a special education teacher; or
  • You are or have worked as a mathematics, science, foreign languages, or bilingual education teacher OR any other area of specialization where there is a shortage of qualified teachers (as determined by your state’s education agency).

There are certain provisions under which teachers employed part-time, preschool and prekindergarten teachers, and teachers employed by private schools may also qualify.

More specific information about the Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation Program and its eligibility requirements can be found here.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program is the broadest student loan forgiveness program available for teachers in the United States.

What It Does

The PSLF Program forgives a direct student loan’s remaining balance once 120 qualifying monthly payments have been made under one of the eligible payment plans.

Qualifications

You may qualify for this program if:
  • You are working in a full-time capacity (at least 30 hours a week) for the U.S. federal government, a U.S. state or local government, a U.S. tribal government, or a not-for-profit organization [501(c)(3) classification], and
  • You have made 120 qualifying monthly payments on your loans under an eligible repayment plan during the time(s) you have worked for a qualified employer.

Eligible Loans and Repayment Options

According to the Federal Student Aid website, any income-driven repayment plan is eligible. Standard, graduated, extended, and alternative repayment plans are not.

You cannot use this program if you have a Perkins loan or an FFEL that has not been consolidated into a Direct Consolidated Loan. The PSLF program is for direct loans.

You can find more information about the PSLF program here.

Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) Program

In 2018, the United States Congress passed a temporary expansion of the PSLF program called the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

What It Does

This program works similarly to PSLF but has slightly expanded the eligible repayment plans from the original.

Qualifications

You are eligible for the TEPSLF program if:

  • You meet all of the qualifications for the PSLF program
  • You have previously applied for the PSLF program and been denied because some of your loan payments were made under the wrong repayment plan
  • You have worked for at least ten years with a qualifying employer(s)
  • You need to have made at least 120 payments that qualify on the loan you are currently paying off

Please note that the types of loans that qualify for TEPSLF are the same as for the PSLF program. Those loans are ineligible if you are repaying a Perkins loan, an FFEL loan, or a private loan. You will have to consolidate them into a Direct Consolidated loan.

Also, the application process for this program is longer and may be more complicated than the PSLF program. You can find out the specifics here.

State and Local Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

In addition to the federal programs listed above, you may be able to take advantage of state or local student loan forgiveness programs in your area. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has a searchable database full of opportunities on its website. You can narrow down the search by:

  • Location;
  • District type, and
  • Subject area you teach

Click here to access the AFT database.

Conclusion

Has this list been helpful for you? Are there any options we might have missed?