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A summary of each program along with the pros and cons for:
- Teacher Loan Forgiveness
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- Perkins loan discharge
- State programs
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
The Teacher loan forgiveness programs forgive up to $17,500 of direct or Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) for STEM and special needs educators.
If you did not teach mathematics, science, or special education, this program will only forgive $5000.
Qualifications at a glance
- Teach full-time for 5 years in a qualifying low-income (Title I) elementary or secondary school. Here is the directory to search and see if your school/ESA or education service agency qualifies.
- Be considered a highly qualified teacher.
- Originated loans after Oct 1st, 1998.
- Be in good standing with your loans- no defaults.
Full eligibility requirements are available on the federal website.
Pros: quicker to access forgiveness than PSLF, the next featured program but it also forgives a smaller amount.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness for teachers
Teachers can qualify for both the teacher loan forgiveness program and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF).
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is the most generous of the options to eliminate direct student loans after 10 years of service.
The government commits to writing off any debt that remains after you make a minimum of 120 payments on time. These payments are also based on your income. However, the program is tricky and there are many pitfalls. Check out the pitfalls of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program here.
You are required to make 120 qualifying monthly payments while working a minimum of 30 hours per week for a nonprofit or government entity. In addition, you must file two forms of paperwork annually ON-TIME and keep track of your payments.
The benefit is that the amount that is forgiven after 10 years is not taxable!
Requirements to make sure you qualify:
- Work 30 hours a week for a nonprofit or government entity. It doesn't matter if you have a side-hustle, as long as you work 30 hours a week for a nonprofit or government organization.
- Have direct loans or consider consolidating into a direct consolidated loan and file into an income-driven plan. Income-driven plans include: Pay As You Earn(PAYE), Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), Income-Based Repayment (IBR) or Income-Contingency Repayment (ICR)
- If you are unsure you qualify, get started on the LoanSense application, we will tell you if your loans qualify, assist you in filing in under 10 minutes and help you get on track and on time.
Summary: May forgive a lot of student debt but you need to file two pieces of paperwork annually.
Perkins loan discharge for teachers
Teachers qualify to cancel 100% of all Federal Perkins loans if they serve full-time in a public or nonprofit elementary or secondary school system.
The Perkins loan discharge is for those who meet the following requirements:
- Teach in schools that serve low-income families. Here is the directory to see if your school qualifies.
- Teach special education, STEM, languages or bilingual educations
- Serve in subjects that have a shortage of qualified teachers.
Remember PSLF forgives your direct student loans after 10 years of filing properly. Perkins loans, on the other hand, discharge a portion each year over 5 years.
Each loan servicer and your school financial aid officer should have details on the Perkins Loan discharge.
Here is the discharge percentage:
- 15 percent of the original principal loan amount for each of the first and second years;
- 20 percent of the original principal loan amount for each of the third and fourth years; and
- 30 percent of the original principal loan amount for the fifth year.
Unsure what to do? LoanSense guides you through all options and help you understand the best path for you. Start Now>>
The American Federation of Teachers published a database that helps you search for the best teacher loan forgiveness programs based on your state/city, subject matter, grade level, and position.
Arkansas’ State Teacher Education Program provides up to $3,000 per year to assist educators with repaying their federal student loans. Eligible individuals must teach in areas with a critical shortage or teach an in-demand subject.
$4000 is provided to licensed minority teachers.
The application is due June 1st. Click here for full eligibility requirements.
Delaware’s Teacher Corps initiative is for teachers who teach a critical need subject. With this program, for one year of teaching in a Delaware public school, you can get forgiveness equal to tuition for fall and spring semesters. First preference is given to those who intend to teach math, science and special education.
Click here for full requirements.
The state of Illinois will award up to $5,000 to help teachers who work in low-income schools. To be eligible, teachers must have served five years in a low-income school or serve 2 years full-time in a qualifying low-income child care facility.
Click here for more information about the Illinois Teachers Loan Repayment program.
Two years’ worth of your loan may be forgiven for each year that you are a full-time teacher, including a speech pathologist, in an eligible Maine school in an underserved subject area or underserved geographic area.
Click here to learn more about Educators For Maine (EFM) Loan Program.
If you’re a teacher (among other professions) in an underserved or low-income community in Maryland, you could receive up to $10,000 a year to repay your student loans through the Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program.
To qualify for aid, your annual gross salary cannot exceed $60,000 a year if you’re single, or $130,000 if you’re married.
Click here for more information about the Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program.
Teachers in Mississippi may receive up to $3,000 a year for a maximum of four years to pay their loans. Individuals must work in specific geographic areas or teach certain subjects to be eligible. Applications are open for 2020-21 until March 31, 2020.
Click here for more information about the Mississippi Teacher Loan Repayment Program.
Quality Educator Loan Assistance provides up to $3,000 at the end of your first year of teaching, then $4,000 at the end of the second year and $5,000 up until the third year to help you repay your loans. After the third year, state funding ends, but your school district could opt to offer you $5,000 at the end of your fourth year of teaching.
To qualify, you must be a full-time teacher working at a "critical quality educator shortage area.”
You can find more information about the Quality Educator Loan Assistance Program here.
If you teach in a designated high-risk position, considered to be in bilingual education, special education, and mathematics, among others in a public school, you could receive aid through the Teacher Loan Repayment Program. Awards consider your entire loan balance and are dependent on the school’s needs for your position.
The application opens on June 1st.
Click here for more information about the Teacher Loan Repayment Program.
The Teachers of Tomorrow program recruits and retains teachers in the schools with the largest need, focused on City School Districts of New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers. Eligible teachers can receive up to $3,400 per year for four years.
Click here for more information about Teachers of Tomorrow.
If you teach math or science in Oklahoma for at least 5 consecutive years, you could be eligible for reimbursement for certain education-related expenses or a cash benefit. Complete the TSEIP participation agreement by the time you graduate.
Click here for more information about the Teacher Shortage Incentive Program.
Tennessee Math and Science Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program offers $2,000 per academic year to math and science public school teachers and those seeking advanced teaching degrees in either subject. The amount will not exceed $10,000.
Click here for more information about the Tennessee Math and Science Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.
The Texas Loan Repayment Assistance Program recruit and retain teachers in areas that have a shortage of educators.
High need subject areas include:
- Bilingual/English as a Second Language (Grades PK-12)
- Career and Technical Education (including Technology Applications and Computer Science) (Grades 7-12)
- Mathematics (Grades 7-12)
- Special Education (Grades PK-12)
Eligible individuals can receive up to $2,500 towards their federal loans. Applications open in May and awards are taxable.
Click here for more information about the Texas Loan Repayment Assistance Program.
The Virginia Teaching Scholarship Loan Program (VTSLP) offers up to $10,000 per academic year to Education students studying in the state of Virginia who commit to a teaching career for two years in schools with 50% or more of the students are on free/reduced-price lunch.
These awards are contingent on teaching in Virginia schools for at least one year after graduation. Click here to learn more about the VTSLP scholarship.
Private Sector Educators that may still need help
You can ask your employer to assist in paying off your student loans. Otherwise, there are two options if you work in the private sector and need help managing your loans, you can enter into an income-driven repayment program or consider refinance. With the income-driven plan, you can still receive loan forgiveness after 20 or 25 years. Your forgiveness amount will have tax implications.
These programs include:
- Income-based repayment
- Revised Pay as you Earn
- Pay as you Earn
- Income-Contingency Repayment
Or you can consider refinancing your student loans. Before ever refinancing your student loans, you should fully understand the cons of refinancing as well. Check out the article on income-driven plan versus refinance.
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