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.
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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 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.79% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.64% 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 July 31, 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 7/31/2020. 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.
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 $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 September 9, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 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 September 10, 2020.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. 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 0.16% effective Sep 1, 2020 and may increase after consummation.