Student Loan Forgiveness for Teachers

If you’re a teacher now, then you’re probably right in the midst of experiencing the troubles that many other teachers face–generally low starting salaries despite having a stack of student loans that seems like it could reach to the moon and back.

You’ve probably heard rumblings about teachers being eligible for forgiveness of their student loans.

Well, is it true? Can teachers have their student loans forgiven?

The answer, I’m happy to tell you, is yes!

(Insert your sigh of relief here).

Teachers can qualify for student loan forgiveness in a few different ways–and each of them are viable for different circumstances and plans. In this article, we’ll review each option and discuss how and when a teacher may want to take advantage of the program.

A teacher standing in front of a whiteboard.

1. Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness

Amount forgiven: $5,000-17,500

Period to qualify: 5 years

There is a specific student loan forgiveness program created just for teachers. Under this program from the U.S. Department of Education, qualifying teachers will receive a discharge of some portion of their outstanding student loans after 5 years of teaching.

There are a number of specific qualifications and criteria that come into play. Teachers must be employed by a Title I school that meets certain requirements designated under the program. Teachers in-demand fields like math and science can qualify teachers for a higher amount of forgiveness.

Over the 5 years leading up to qualification, students will need to continue to make payments as normal.

Read the full terms of the Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness Program

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2. Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness

Amount forgiven: Up to 100% of Federal Direct student loans

Period to qualify: 10+ years

Teachers can qualify as Public Service employees if they are employed by public schools and/or other tax-exempt, non-profit schools or teaching organizations.

Under this program, teachers can have the remaining balance of their federal direct loans forgiven after meeting the conditions for forgiveness. Teachers need to work an average of 30 hours per week (full time) for a qualifying employer in order to become eligible for this loan forgiveness program.

Students must make 120 qualifying payments on their student loans before they are eligible for forgiveness under this program–so, basically, 10 years worth of payments.

Learn more about Public Service Loan Forgiveness

3. Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation for Teachers

Amount forgiven: Up to 100% of Federal Perkins Loans

Period to qualify: 1-5 years

Teachers that received Federal Perkins Loans and meet specific teaching criteria (such as teaching in low-income schools/districts, teaching in-demand fields such as math and science, or teaching special education) can qualify to have 100% of the balance of their Federal Perkins Loans canceled (forgiven) after teaching for one full school year.

Teachers meeting these requirements will have these loans canceled according to a 5-year schedule:

  • 15% forgiven each of the first 2 years
  • 20% forgiven in both the third and fourth years
  • 30% forgiven the 5th year

Learn more about the Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation

4. Income-Based Repayment Student Loan Forgiveness

Amount forgiven: Up to 100% of Federal Direct Loans

Period to qualify: 20-25 years

Teachers who, for one reason or another, do not qualify under these other programs, may be able to have their loans forgiven by enrolling in income-based repayment plans.

Under these programs, teachers will need to make payments on their loans based on a percentage of their discretionary income. At the end of 20-25 years (depending on the program), the remaining balance will be eligible for full loan forgiveness.

Learn more about income-based repayment options