One of the biggest challenges of starting your teaching career is paying for your training. College is expensive these days, and for many teachers the short-term solution to making school affordable is loans.
There are a variety of ways that government student loans for teachers can be forgiven. Most student loan forgiveness programs for teachers are partial forgiveness schemes. But a few programs have the potential to wipe out all of a teacher’s student loan debt, or almost all of it. Below, we’ll look at every form of student loan forgiveness you should know about as you work to launch your teaching career.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
Public Service Loan Forgiveness is a federal government program where a variety of workers, including teachers, may any remaining student debt forgiven after making 120 qualifying monthly payments.
120 monthly payments equals ten years, but it will likely take at least a little more than 10 years after graduation to earn this from of loan forgiveness. Qualifying payments can be made only after the end of any post-graduation grace periods for student loans. And the payments must be made while the teacher is working full-time at a qualifying employer.
What makes this program great is the very wide variety of work that counts as qualifying employment. Teachers working for any government employer or tax exempt nonprofit employer are eligible for this kind of student loan forgiveness. Nonprofit employers that are not tax exempt also count as qualifying employment if such organizations provide early childhood education, public library-related services, or other publicly available educational services. So just about any kind of full time work a teacher might find can potentially qualify them for this generous loan forgiveness program.
Other Federal Loan Forgiveness Programs for Teachers
The Public Service Program is for a variety of college graduates, including teachers. There are two additional federal loan forgiveness programs that are just for teachers. The two teacher-only federal student loan programs are called Teacher Loan Forgiveness and Teacher Cancellation. Like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, these two teacher-focused loan forgiveness initiatives are tied to qualifying employment in the field of education.
The teacher Loan forgiveness program cancels up to $17,500 of debt on Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized student loans (also called Stafford Loans) for teachers who spend five years teaching full-time in schools that serve low-income students. Teacher Cancellation also requires applicants to teach at low-income schools, but the required duration of teaching is shorter and the amounts forgiven is smaller. Teacher Cancellation beneficiaries need to teach for one year at a low-income school, and may receive cancellation of their Perkins student loans (usually a value of $5,000 or less) at the end of their teaching year.
State loan forgiveness programs
Every individual state has its own student loan forgiveness programs for teachers too. State programs are varied and numerous, with too many to list here. Some state programs offer very high coverage of student loans. For example, the state of New York provides up to $24,000 in loan reimbursement for qualifying teachers working in New York City. Other state forgiveness programs repay loan amounts that are smaller but still significant, with offerings of $2,500 in loan forgiveness through one Texas program, and $5,000 through another program in Illinois. To find out about programs in your state, talk to an academic advisor, contact your state’s department of education, or look through a teacher loan assistance search engine like this one from the American Federation of Teachers website.