If you teach full time in a low-income or educational service agency for five complete and consecutive academic years, while meeting other qualifications, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness for teachers on your Direct and Unsubsidized Loans, or your Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans.
What qualifies someone as a teacher? A teacher provides direct classroom education, including classroom-type teaching that may be in a non-classroom setting (Student Aid).
There are basic requirements every teacher must meet in order to be considered “highly qualified”, which is necessary for this specific loan forgiveness. Depending on whether you work as an elementary, middle or secondary school teacher, you may have additional requirements to meet. According to Student Aid, in order to be eligible for Loan Forgiveness for Teachers, you…
- Have been employed as a full-time teacher for five consecutive and complete years at an elementary, middle or secondary school, or educational service agency for low-income students.
- Should not have an outstanding balance on the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program or Direct Loans.
- Ensure your loans have been made prior to the end of your five academic years of qualifying teaching service.
How To Apply
Submit a completed Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application to your loan servicer AFTER you’ve finished your five years of qualifying teaching.
Do I Qualify?
In order to be considered a “highly qualified” teacher for loan forgiveness, according to Student Aid, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree and received full state certification as a teacher.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that additional requirements are necessary for elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers to qualify. Whether you are new to the profession — or not new — review the guidelines at Student Aid to confirm your eligibility.
Important details when you’re determining whether or not you qualify for Teacher Loan Forgiveness:
- Federal Perkins Loans are not eligible for this forgiveness.
- PLUS loans for parents, graduate or professional students also are not eligible for this particular type of forgiveness.
- If you’re in default on the loan you are trying to have forgiven, it is not eligible for Teacher Loan Forgiveness (unless you made satisfactory repayment arrangements with the holder).
- If you had your certification of license taken away, even temporarily, you disqualify from this forgiveness (College Life Today).
How Much Loan Forgiveness Can I Receive?
If you did not teach science, math, or special education, then you may receive up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness due to being a highly qualified full-time elementary or secondary school teacher. However, to receive up to $17,500 in forgiveness, you must have:
- Had a full-time position as a math or science teacher, educating at a secondary school.
- Been a special education teacher primarily teaching special education to children with disabilities; this position should correspond with your area of training.
- Worked at a school that serves low-income students.
Depending on the subject area you teach, the maximum forgiveness amount is either $17,500 or $5,000. If your eligible loans are both in the FFEL Program and Direct Loan Program, the full amount may be a combined maximum forgiveness amount for both programs.