Teaching is one of the most important professions, but it’s at risk of losing top talent due to low pay and long hours. However, student loan forgiveness for teachers could help reverse that trend.
Approximately 8 percent of teachers leave the field each year, according to the Learning Policy Institute. To compensate, districts would have to hire an additional 145,000 individuals to return schools to their pre-recession teacher-student ratios.
As of 2017, the average starting salary for a teacher was $38,727, according to PayScale. Education majors have lower salary potential compared to other majors.
Meanwhile, the average student loan debt for 2016 graduates regardless of major or profession was over $37,000. It’s clear that these numbers don’t favor a teacher’s ability to repay their student loans.
But there are teacher student loan forgiveness programs from the federal and state government can help.
It’s not easy to sift through all the details of student loan forgiveness for teachers, so we’ve broken it down for you. Here are the options available that will help you dig yourself out of debt.
Federal Teacher Cancellation for Perkins Loans
The Federal Perkins Loan program expired in September 2017. However, if you borrowed money through the program before its expiration date, you might still qualify for Federal Teacher Cancellation for Perkins Loans.
How much it’s worth: Up to $27,500.
Requirements: You must teach at least one year and meet one of the below requirements:
- Teach at a low-income school (search the directory)
- Teach special education
- Teach in mathematics, science, foreign languages, or bilingual education
- Teach in a field that has a shortage of qualified teachers in your state
How long it takes: Minimum one full year of teaching. 100 percent Perkins Loan debt cancellation after five years.
The details: After just one year of teaching, you can have 15 percent of your outstanding Perkins Loans canceled. This continues in varying amounts until you have all Perkins Loan debt canceled after five years.
To apply, contact the school that holds your Perkins Loans. To learn more about requirements, check out the Federal Student Aid website.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
How much it’s worth: Up to $17,500 towards Direct or Stafford Loans.
- Teach at a low-income school
- Have no student loans originating before Oct. 1, 1998
- Not be in default
How long it takes: Five complete and consecutive academic years.
The details: This one’s a little more complicated. The amount you can receive is based on your role. There are two tiers for Teacher Loan Forgiveness.
You can receive up to $5,000 if you’re a full-time elementary teacher or full-time secondary school teacher. But you must be teaching in an area related to your academic major.
You can receive up to $17,500 if you’re a highly qualified full-time math or science teacher in an eligible secondary school. You can also receive this award if you’re a highly qualified special education teacher if you meet certain requirements.
To be considered “highly qualified,” you must obtain a full state certification as a teacher or pass the state teacher licensing exam. You must also hold a state license (with a few exceptions).
Certain exceptions are made if you’re an elementary teacher who holds a bachelor’s degree and can meet other requirements. Visit the Federal Student Aid website for more information.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
How much it’s worth: 100 percent of your Direct Loan balance after 10 years. This amount varies depending on many factors.
- Must be in certain public sector jobs and employed full-time
- Must have made 120 payments starting from Oct. 1, 2007
- Payments must be made as part of certain repayment plans
- Not be in default
How long it takes: 120 qualified payments, which takes 10 years.
The details: This program isn’t just for teachers, although teachers can qualify. With this option, relief is more long-term than the other programs we discuss above.
This plan typically works best with other types of qualifying repayment plans. For example, you may be able to take advantage of payment plans like Income-Based Repayment (IBR). IBR will lower monthly payments and increase the amount of debt forgiven at the end of 10 years (if any).
However, if you miss any of the requirements, you’ll end up paying more in interest on your loans. To learn more about requirements, visit the Federal Student Aid website.
State programs that offer student loan forgiveness for teachers
These plans vary based on where you live and teach. It’s worth investigating if your state offers teacher student loan forgiveness. Some state programs include:
Arkansas’ State Teacher Education Program provides up to $3,000 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.
Click here for more information about the Arkansas State Teacher Education Program.
Under Delaware’s Teacher Corps initiative, teachers who live and work in Delaware might be eligible for loan forgiveness if they teach a critical need subject. With this program, for one year of teaching in a Delaware public school you can get forgiveness equal to one year of your loans.
Click here for more information about Delaware’s Teacher Corps Program.
For teachers willing to work in low-income areas, the state of Illinois will award up to $5,000 to help individuals pay back their loan debt. To be eligible, teachers must serve five years in a low-income school.
Click here for more information about the Illinois Teachers Loan Repayment program.
The state of Iowa offers student loan repayment assistance to Iowa educators teaching in designated shortage areas. The maximum reward is $17,500.
Click here to learn more about Iowa’s Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.
Eligible borrowers can have one year of their loan forgiven for each year of eligible service. But the service must be as an educator, speech pathologist, or child care provider. Certain borrowers can have as much as two years of loans forgiven if they work in an underserved area.
Click here to learn more about Educators For Maine (EFM) Loan Program.
If you teach 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, you cannot make more than $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.
Click here for more information about the Mississippi Teacher Loan Repayment Program.
Through Quality Educator Loan Assistance, you could receive up to $3,000 per year up to four years to help repay your loans. To qualify, you must be a full-time teacher working in rural area, a community with a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students, or a region with critical educator shortages.
Unfortunately, this program lost funding in 2017, and it’s unclear if or when it will return. If you’re a Montana resident, you could contact local legislators and request they fund the program for 2019. You can find more information about the Quality Educator Loan Assistance Program here.
If you teach in a designated high-risk teacher position in a public school, you could receive aid through the Teacher Loan Repayment Program. Awards are dependent on the school’s needs for your position and your total amount of debt.
Click here for more information about the Teacher Loan Repayment Program.
The New York State Education Department designed the Teachers of Tomorrow Program to recruit and retain teachers in the schools with the largest need. Eligible teachers can receive up to $3,400 per year for four years.
Click here for more information about the Teachers of Tomorrow Program.New York
The North Dakota University System provides teachers with $1,000 a year in loan forgiveness, up to a $3,000. Teachers must have a full-time position at a grade level or in an institution that is underserved.
Click here to learn more about North Dakota’s Teacher Shortage Loan Forgiveness Program.
If you teach math or science in Oklahoma, you could be eligible for reimbursement for certain education-related expenses or a cash benefit. The value of the repayment assistance program varies year to year.
Click here for more information about the Teacher Shortage Incentive Program.
The Texas Loan Repayment Assistance Program was designed to recruit and retain teachers in areas that have a shortage of educators. Eligible individuals can receive up to $2,500 towards their federal loans.
Click here for more information about the Texas Loan Repayment Assistance Program.
Keep in mind, state programs come and go more often than federal programs, so don’t delay if you’re eligible to apply.
Even though managing student loans on a teacher’s salary can be overwhelming, there is help out there. Programs that provide student loan forgiveness for teachers are designed to make repaying your debt a little easier.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.59% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.27% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.89% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of August 15, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/15/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.37% effective July 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.27% – 6.89%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.27% – 7.75%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.43% – 6.65%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.24% – 6.67%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.37% – 7.95%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.46% – 9.24%6||Undergrad & Graduate|