The federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program allows eligible teachers in low-income schools or educational service agencies to waive up to $17,500 in federal student loans after five consecutive years of experience.
Educators considering the initiative must meet specific criteria and carefully fill out an application.
But just because you apply, doesn’t mean it’s automatically approved. It’s important to understand how you qualify, as well as the steps you can follow when completing a Teacher Loan Forgiveness application.
Who is eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program?
How to fill out the Teacher Loan Forgiveness application
What happens after I submit my Teacher Loan Forgiveness application?
Other loan forgiveness options for teachers
To qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, you’ll need five consecutive years as a full-time teacher in a low-income school or educational service agency. (Your application won’t be processed if you haven’t already completed the five years.) Only federal student loans can be forgiven.
A teacher, per the program requirements, is someone who directly teaches a classroom or who provides classroom-style teaching outside of the traditional setting.
Teachers who qualify must have:
- Served full time for at least five consecutive years, with one of those being after the 1997-98 academic year (time served as an AmeriCorps volunteer doesn’t count)
- Become highly qualified, meaning someone who has earned a bachelor’s degree and full state teacher certification without having any certification requirements waived
- Taught in a school or agency listed in the U.S. Department of Education’s annual Teacher Cancellation Low Income Directory
Loans that qualify include:
- Federal direct loans or Stafford loans, either subsidized or unsubsidized
- Portion of direct or Stafford loans consolidated with a federal direct consolidation loan
You must not have already had a direct loan or Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) balance when you took out these loans. You must also have borrowed the loans before your five years of service were complete.
How much you qualify for:
- Up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness: Math and science teachers in secondary schools and special education teachers at elementary or secondary schools
- Up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness: Other teachers
If you’re in default on a loan, you must make satisfactory repayment arrangements before becoming eligible for Teacher Loan Forgiveness.
Step No. 1: Contact your student loan servicer
Your student loan servicer can provide you with a Teacher Loan Forgiveness application and let you know the address where you should send the completed form.
If you want to get a head start or see what’s on the form, you can find the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program application online.
After receiving the Teacher Loan Forgiveness application from your servicer, you may fill it out on your computer or print it out (but don’t get started yet).
Step No. 2: Read the application thoroughly
Begin by reading the entire application — this is made clear on the form. Then, fill out the section requiring your contact information and Social Security number.
Step No. 3: Fill out the sections labeled ‘to be completed by the borrower’
In section 2, you verify that you qualify for the loan forgiveness program by selecting the type of school in which you taught and the subject. This will detail the amount of forgiveness for which you may qualify.
In section 3, you disclose if you’ve applied for or received loan forgiveness under this program before. If you haven’t, you can move to the next portion of the application.
In section 4, you sign your name affirming that you understand the rules of the program and that you’re authorizing your student loan servicer to put your loan into forbearance until your application is approved or denied.
You may opt to make regular payments during this period, but it may lower your amount of loan forgiveness if you’re approved for the program.
Step No. 4: Get your school to fill out its portion of the form
Next, you need the chief administrative officer of your school or educational service agency (sometimes a principal or human resources official) to verify that you meet the qualifications. They’ll fill out details about the school where you teach.
Step No. 5: Return the completed application
If you received the form from your loan servicer, they may have already filled out the address for where you should send the completed application. If not, you’ll need to contact them.
Your servicer has 60 days to process the Teacher Loan Forgiveness application and send it to the guarantor of your loan. The guarantor then has 45 days to approve or deny the application.
If you have more than one loan servicer, you may request and complete an application for all of them. After your first application, you’ll include the information in section 3 of your subsequent applications.
If Teacher Loan Forgiveness isn’t the right fit, there are other loan forgiveness programs that might help you.
1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program allows certain government and nonprofit employees — including teachers — to discharge their student loans after 10 years of service.
You must have direct loans or loans that you consolidated into direct loans. You can potentially qualify for both Teacher Loan Forgiveness and PSLF. However, the five years that count toward Teacher Loan Forgiveness can’t be counted toward PSLF. You’ll need an additional 10 years of service.
It’s worth noting that less than 1% of applicants have received forgiveness through PSLF (according to the latest data), so you need to very carefully review the requirements.
2. State programs
Many states offer student loan forgiveness for teachers with shorter tenure requirements than Teacher Loan Forgiveness.
The Teach for Texas Loan Repayment Assistance Program, for example, requires just one year of full-time teaching in a shortage field. Mississippi offers student loan forgiveness for educators who hold their “Alternate Route Teaching License” and teach in a shortage area.
You can search for state-based programs on the American Federation of Teachers’ website.
3. Federal Perkins loan cancellation
The federal government will cancel Perkins loans — need-based federal student loans issued by your school — for teachers under criteria similar to Teacher Loan Forgiveness. Full-time teachers must serve low-income or special needs students or work in subjects with teacher shortages. Teachers can have up to 100% of their Perkins Loans canceled after five years.
Perkins loans could no longer be made by schools as of Sept. 30, 2017, but there are still plenty out there being repaid.
Jordi Lippe-McGraw contributed to this report.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2022!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|2.49% – 11.72%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.30%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|4.13% – 7.39%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.49% – 7.99%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.49% – 7.99%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.24% – 8.24%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.48% – 7.98%||Undergrad |
|1.74% – 7.99%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.69% – 9.92%8||Undergrad & Graduate|
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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. Fixed loans feature repayment terms of 5 to 20 years. For example, the monthly payment for a sample $10,000 with an APR of 5.47% for a 12-year term would be $94.86. Variable loans feature repayment terms of 5 to 25 years. For example, the monthly payment for a sample $10,000 with an APR of 5.90% for a 15-year term would be $83.85.
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 September 6, 2022.
2 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 $9 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 April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
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 09/09/2022 student loan refinancing rates range from 4.13% APR – 7.39% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.99% APR – 9.93% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
4 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.
You can choose between fixed and variable rates. Fixed interest rates are 3.99% – 8.74% APR (3.74% – 8.49% APR with Auto Pay discount). Starting variable interest rates are 2.74% APR to 8.24% APR (2.49% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Variable rates are based on an index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) plus a margin. Variable rates are reset monthly based on the fluctuation of the index. We do not currently offer variable rate loans in AK, CO, CT, HI, IL, KY, MA, MN, MS, NH, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, and VA.
5 Important Disclosures for Navient.
6 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
Fixed rates range from 3.99% APR to 8.24% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 3.24% APR to 8.24% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR 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. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.
7 Important Disclosures for Purefy.
Purefy Student Loan Refinancing Rate and Terms Disclosure: Annual Percentage Rates (APR) ranges and examples are based on information provided to Purefy by lenders participating in Purefy’s rate comparison platform. For student loan refinancing, the participating lenders offer fixed rates ranging from 2.73% – 7.99% APR, and variable rates ranging from 1.74% – 7.99% APR. The maximum variable rate is 25.00%. Your interest rate will be based on the lender’s requirements. In most cases, lenders determine the interest rates based on your credit score, degree type and other credit and financial criteria. Only borrowers with excellent credit and meeting other lender criteria will qualify for the lowest rate available. Rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice. Terms and conditions apply.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens.
Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69%-9.92% (3.69%-9.92% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.49%-10.11% (4.49%-10.11% APR).
Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 6.39%- 9.60% (6.39% – 9.60% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 6.58% – 9.79% (6.58% – 9.79% APR).
Graduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69% – 9.16% (3.69% – 9.16% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% – 9.35% (4.49% – 9.35% APR).
Education Refinance Loan for Parents Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69%- 9.09% (3.69%- 9.09% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% – 9.28% (4.49% – 9.28% APR).
Medical Residency Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.69% – 9.16% (3.69% – 9.16% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% – 9.35% (4.49% – 9.35% APR).