The Complete Guide to Student Loan Forgiveness for Teachers

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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.

Requirements:

  • 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.

Requirements:

  • 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

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.

Delaware

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.

Illinois

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.

Iowa

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.

Maine

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.

Maryland

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.

Mississippi

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.

Montana

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.

New Mexico

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.

New York

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

North Dakota

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.

Oklahoma

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.

Texas

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 2018!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

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 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% 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 Month/Day/Year, 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 08/21/18. 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 hello@earnest.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent 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 Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.

Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.

Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.

Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.


3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance:Fixed rates from 3.899% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.470% APR to 6.990% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.470% APR assumes the current index rate derived from the 1-month LIBOR of 2.08% plus 0.64% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score.
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

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.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of October 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.22%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.32% (2.72%-8.32% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.75%-8.69% (3.75%-8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled. Applicants with an Associate’s degree or with no degree must have made at least 12 qualifying payments after leaving school. Qualifying payments are the most recent on time and consecutive payments of principal and interest on the loans being refinanced. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The cosigner (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a cosigner will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Estimated average savings amount is based on 14,659 Education Refinance Loan customers who saved on loans between August 1, 2017 and July 31, 2018. The calculation is derived by averaging monthly savings across Education Refinance Loan customers whose payment amounts decreased after refinancing, calculated by taking the monthly payment prior to refinancing minus the monthly payment after refinancing. We excluded monthly savings from customers that exceeded $4,375 and were lower than $20 to minimize risk of data error skewing the savings amounts. Savings will vary based on interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of loans to be refinanced. Borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if monthly payments are lower.

2.47% – 6.99%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 5.87%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.47% – 8.03%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.95% – 6.37%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 6.25%5Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.32%6Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.