Note that the situation for student loans has changed due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and relief efforts from the government, student loan lenders and others. Check out our Student Loan Hero Coronavirus Information Center for additional news and details.
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Teachers with student loan debt can find relief from Teacher Loan Forgiveness, a program that forgives up to $17,500 in federal loans for qualifying teachers. But you can only apply for this award once, so you’ll need to use other strategies to deal with any remaining debt.
That said, it is possible to double up on the Teacher Loan Forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs — but this approach could take 15 years or more. Let’s address the following topics to learn more about pursuing multiple loan forgiveness programs to get rid of your student debt:
- You can’t apply for Teacher Loan Forgiveness twice, but …
- Pursuing Teacher Loan Forgiveness and PSLF is possible
- If you only choose one, consider the PSLF program
- Marriage can affect your repayment options
- Strategies for picking the right student loan forgiveness program for you
- Some final advice on choosing the right student loan forgiveness program
The Teacher Loan Forgiveness program offers relief for qualifying teachers who work in eligible low-income schools or educational agencies. This program provides the following awards:
- Up to $17,500 for highly-qualified math, science or special education teachers
- Up to $5,000 for highly-qualified teachers of other subjects
Along with meeting other criteria, you’ll need to work full-time for five years. Teacher Loan Forgiveness offers a one-time reward; you can’t apply for Teacher Loan Forgiveness twice after an additional five years of service.
That said, it may be possible to pursue the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program after you get Teacher Loan Forgiveness to cancel out the rest of your student debt.
PSLF goes even further than the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program, as it forgives all of your student loan debt after 120 qualifying payments (usually 10 years). To qualify, you need to work full-time for a qualifying employer during this time.
Qualifying employers include not-for-profit organizations and government organizations — so if you work at a public school, that would likely meet the requirements for PSLF.
Unfortunately, you can’t double up on both forgiveness programs at the same time. In other words, your payments for Teacher Loan Forgiveness won’t count as qualifying payments toward PSLF. After you’ve made five years of payments toward the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program, you’ll need to start over and make 120 new qualifying payments for PSLF.
So if you do decide to pursue PSLF after Teacher Loan Forgiveness, the entire process could take a minimum of 15 years. To see if your loans qualify for PSLF, check out this help tool from Federal Student Aid.
If you’re committed to working in a public school for at least a decade, it could be worth pursuing PSLF instead of the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program. That way, you can start making your 120 payments right away.
Start by filling out the PSLF Employment Certification Form each year that you work or change employers. (You’re not required to do this, but it’s helpful for you and your loan servicer to stay on top of your progress.)
You’ll also need to get your loans on an income-driven repayment plan. Unfortunately, you won’t know that your loan forgiveness application will be approved until you make 120 payments and work for 10 years. However, keeping track of your employers and student loan payments can help ensure your paperwork is in order and hopefully get your forgiveness application processed quickly.
If you decide that you don’t want to work in a school for 10 years, you could pivot and pursue the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program instead, since it only requires five years of service. To get forgiveness from this program, you’ll need to fill out the Teacher Loan Forgiveness application.
Married couples face a choice when it comes to repaying student loans and deciding whether to pursue forgiveness: Should they file taxes jointly or separately? Both options have advantages, and both can affect your repayment strategy in different ways.
For example, filing separately can reduce your monthly payments, particularly if your spouse doesn’t have any student loan debt. The reason is simple: Filing as an individual makes it appear as though you have a smaller income, meaning you’ll owe less under most income-driven loan repayment plans. And if you’re paying less each month, that’s more money that can be forgiven once you hit the five- or 10-year forgiveness mark.
Note that the REPAYE plan is an exception: It takes both your and your spouse’s incomes into account when calculating your student loan payment, regardless of whether you file separately. The other income-driven plans, however, will calculate your payment based on your income alone if you file separately, which could result in a lower monthly payment.
But this strategy has some downsides, too. Filing separately may mean paying higher taxes — especially if you earn more than your spouse. Depending on your income, you might end up paying more in higher taxes than you’re saving on your student loans.
But it’s impossible to know for sure until you crunch the numbers. Student Loan Hero offers calculators on everything from income-based repayment to Public Service Loan Forgiveness to help you consider your options.
Even if you’re technically eligible for multiple student loan forgiveness programs, such as Teacher Loan Forgiveness and PSLF, you’ll only be able to take advantage of one at a time. So how do you know which program to pursue?
If you’re unsure you can commit to 10 years of service, opting for a program with a shorter time commitment, such as Teacher Loan Forgiveness, might be better. Additionally, if your student loan payments are manageable on the standard 10-year plan, there may not be much benefit to pursuing a program like PSLF. Instead, you might consider making extra payments to pay off your loans faster or refinancing your student loans for better rates.
However, if your student loan debt far outweighs your annual salary and you are committed to a life of public service, PSLF may be a good fit. Unlike Teacher Loan Forgiveness, you can pursue a variety of jobs in the nonprofit or government sectors and still qualify for PSLF.
There are many student loan forgiveness programs, and you may qualify for more than one. But to pick one, you need to consider a few things:
- How much of your student loans will be forgiven?
- What are the eligibility requirements? (This is super important, as you may not qualify after you read the fine print.)
- What are the service requirements? (Consider time, location and employer.)
Maybe some loan forgiveness programs will help you lower your debt in a shorter amount of time, whereas other forgiveness programs may be more time-intensive but forgive all your federal student loans.
There’s no right or wrong answer — it just depends on how much time and service you are willing to commit in exchange for loan forgiveness.
One final note: Before pursuing student loan forgiveness, understand that the forgiven amount could be considered taxable income. If it is, you may be hit with a surprise tax bill.
But whatever you choose, make sure you qualify before committing to a certain path and ensure it’s worth the amount forgiven in exchange for your service. For all your forgiveness options, head to our complete list of student loan forgiveness programs.
Rebecca Safier and Dillon Thompson contributed to this article.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2021!
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1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of Feburary 1, 2021.
2 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 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% 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 October 26, 2020, 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 10/26/2020. 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 protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 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.
3 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.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 02/17/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.91% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% APR – 7.63% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
4 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
5 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
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.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of January 4, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.