With Payscale listing the average starting salary for a teacher at $38,960 and the average student loan debt for 2016 graduates over $37,000, it makes sense educators would look into ways to pay off their debts.
Luckily, there’s the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, but applying for this perk can be complicated.
Here is everything you need to know about the Teacher Loan Forgiveness application: How to fill it out, timelines, required documents, eligibility, and more.
What is the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program?
The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is meant to encourage college students to become teachers by forgiving up to a combined total of $17,500 of your Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, and Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans.
If you have PLUS or Perkins Loans only, you are not eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. However, your Federal Perkins Loans may qualify for cancellation, based on eligible employment or volunteer experience. Take a look at this cancellation chart to see how much of your Federal Perkins Loans qualify.
Who should fill out the Teacher Loan Forgiveness application?
First and foremost, eligible applicants must be full-time, highly qualified teachers for five consecutive academic years in certain elementary or secondary schools, or educational service agencies serving low-income families. However, there are also other requirements to consider before filling out the Teacher Loan Forgiveness application.
- You must not have a history of outstanding balances on Direct Loans or FFEL Program Loans.
- You are not eligible if you are in default on a loan unless you’ve made repayment arrangements.
- The loan(s) must have been made before the end of your five years of qualifying teaching service.
- Time spent with AmeriCorps does not count towards the required five years of teaching.
- The elementary or secondary school where you’re employed must be in a school district that qualifies for funds under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.
- There is a list of eligible schools in the Annual Teacher Cancellation Low Income Directory. If this directory is not available before May 1 of any year, use the previous year’s directory.
- Some elementary and secondary schools that are operated by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) or are on Indian reservations may not be in the directory, but they all still qualify as schools serving low-income students.
Who is a ‘highly qualified’ teacher?
According to Federal Student Aid, an applicant must meet these basic requirements to be considered a highly qualified teacher:
- They must have at least a bachelor’s degree.
- Applicants must have a full state certification as a teacher (including certification obtained through alternative routes to certification).
- There cannot be a history of “certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis.”
Some teachers — such as those who teach mathematics, science, foreign languages, or special education — may still qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program even if they’re not in a low-income school. These subject matters can be determined by your state education agency to have a shortage of qualified teachers.
How do you apply for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program?
Do you meet all of the requirements above? Great! You can now fill out the Teacher Loan Forgiveness application.
- First, you have to print out a physical application; you can’t fill it out online. You can find the application here.
- Fill out all sections that say “TO BE COMPLETED BY THE BORROWER.”
- Have the principal or dean at your school fill out section five, “CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER’S CERTIFICATION.”
- If you’ve worked for more than one school during the five years you are counting toward your loan forgiveness, an administrator from each school must fill out section five on the form. Provide any additional certifications on a separate piece of paper and submit with your completed application.
- Once you’ve completed the form, you must submit it to your student loan holder or servicer. If you don’t know this information, head to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS). This is where the U.S. Department of Education keeps a central database for student aid. You should be able to log in if you already have an FSA ID. Otherwise, create an account to track your loan and find info about your lender or servicer.
- If you have multiple loan holders or servicers, you must submit an application to each of them. Lenders and servicers will review applications and process them if applicants meet eligibility requirements.
When will you hear about the status of your Teacher Loan Forgiveness application?
The worst part is always the waiting game once you’ve applied. You might have to wait as long as three to four months to find out if your Teacher Loan Forgiveness application was accepted.
If you feel it’s taking longer than usual, you can always check in with your lender or servicer to make sure they have everything they need.
How much of your loan is forgiven if your application is accepted?
There are two tiers of the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program:
- Full-time elementary teachers or full-time secondary school teachers. If you’re teaching in an area related to your academic major or demonstrate knowledge and teaching skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and other areas of the elementary school curriculum, you can receive up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness.
- Highly qualified teachers. If you’re a full-time math or science teacher, or special education teacher in an eligible secondary school, you can receive up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness.
How is Teacher Loan Forgiveness different from Public Service Loan Forgiveness?
The Teacher Loan Forgiveness program and Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF) can often be confusing. If you’re a teacher, you may qualify for both. Or, if you don’t qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, you may still be eligible for PSLF.
The employment qualification requirements are much broader when it comes to PSLF. As a teacher, you are not required to teach at a low-income a public school. Even full-time public and private elementary and secondary school teachers could meet the employment requirements.
In addition to the eligibility differences, the terms of the loan forgiveness vary. If you qualify for PSLF, 100 percent of your remaining student loan balance is forgiven after making 120 qualifying payments and working in public service for ten years.
You can apply for both programs, but only one will be enacted when it comes to forgiving your student loans.
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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 3.89% 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 email@example.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.
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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.
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