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 Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
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. Mortgage lending is not offered in Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association.
ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (“APR”)
There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties associated with the loan. Lender may assess a late fee if any part of a payment is not received within 15 days of the payment due date. Any late fee assessed shall not exceed 5% of the late payment or $28, whichever is less. A borrower may be charged $20 for any payment (including a check or an electronic payment) that is returned unpaid due to non-sufficient funds (NSF) or a closed account.
For bachelor’s degrees and higher, up to 100% of outstanding private and federal student loans (minimum $5,000) are eligible for refinancing. If you are refinancing greater than $300,000 in student loan debt, Lender may refinance the loans into 2 or more new loans.
ELIGIBILITY & ELIGIBLE LOANS
Borrower, and Co-signer if applicable, must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a valid I-551 card (which must show a minimum of 10 years between “Resident Since” date and “Card Expires” date or has no expiration date); state that they are of at least borrowing age in the state of residence at the time of application; and meet Lender underwriting criteria (including, for example, employment, debt-to-income, disposable income, and credit history requirements).
Graduates may refinance any unsubsidized or subsidized Federal or private student loan that was used exclusively for qualified higher education expenses (as defined in 26 USC Section 221) at an accredited U.S. undergraduate or graduate school. Any federal loans refinanced with Lender are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment.
All loans must be in grace or repayment status and cannot be in default. Borrower must have graduated or be enrolled in good standing in the final term preceding graduation from an accredited Title IV U.S. school and must be employed, or have an eligible offer of employment. Parents looking to refinance loans taken out on behalf of a child should refer to https://www.laurelroad.com/refinance-student-loans/refinance-parent-plus-loans/ for applicable terms and conditions.
For Associates Degrees: Only associates degrees earned in one of the following are eligible for refinancing: Cardiovascular Technologist (CVT); Dental Hygiene; Diagnostic Medical Sonography; EMT/Paramedics; Nuclear Technician; Nursing; Occupational Therapy Assistant; Pharmacy Technician; Physical Therapy Assistant; Radiation Therapy; Radiologic/MRI Technologist; Respiratory Therapy; or Surgical Technologist. To refinance an Associates degree, a borrower must also either be currently enrolled and in the final term of an associate degree program at a Title IV eligible school with an offer of employment in the same field in which they will receive an eligible associate degree OR have graduated from a school that is Title IV eligible with an eligible associate and have been employed, for a minimum of 12 months, in the same field of study of the associate degree earned.
The interest rate you are offered will depend on your credit profile, income, and total debt payments as well as your choice of fixed or variable and choice of term. For applicants who are currently medical or dental residents, your rate offer may also vary depending on whether you have secured employment for after residency.
The repayment of any refinanced student loan will commence (1) immediately after disbursement by us, or (2) after any grace or in-school deferment period, existing prior to refinancing and/or consolidation with us, has expired.
POSTPONING OR REDUCING PAYMENTS
After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship.
We may agree under certain circumstances to allow a borrower to make $100/month payments for a period of time immediately after loan disbursement if the borrower is employed full-time as an intern, resident, or similar postgraduate trainee at the time of loan disbursement. These payments may not be enough to cover all of the interest that accrues on the loan. Unpaid accrued interest will be added to your loan and monthly payments of principal and interest will begin when the post-graduate training program ends.
We may agree under certain circumstances to allow postponement (deferral) of monthly payments of principal and interest for a period of time immediately following loan disbursement (not to exceed 6 months after the borrower’s graduation with an eligible degree), if the borrower is an eligible student in the borrower’s final term at the time of loan disbursement or graduated less than 6 months before loan disbursement, and has accepted an offer of (or has already begun) full-time employment.
If Lender agrees (in its sole discretion) to postpone or reduce any monthly payment(s) for a period of time, interest on the loan will continue to accrue for each day principal is owed. Although the borrower might not be required to make payments during such a period, the borrower may continue to make payments during such a period. Making payments, or paying some of the interest, will reduce the total amount that will be required to be paid over the life of the loan. Interest not paid during any period when Lender has agreed to postpone or reduce any monthly payment will be added to the principal balance through capitalization (compounding) at the end of such a period, one month before the borrower is required to resume making regular monthly payments.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of June 23, 2020 and is subject to change.
2 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Splash Financial loans are available through arrangements with lending partners. Your loan application will be submitted to the lending partner and be evaluated at their sole discretion. For loans where a credit union is the lender, or a purchaser of the loan, in order to refinance your loans, you will need to become a credit union member.
The Splash Student Loan Refinance Program is not offered or endorsed by any college or university. Neither Splash Financial nor the lending partner are affiliated with or endorse any college or university listed on this website.
You should review the benefits of your federal student loan; it may offer specific benefits that a private refinance/consolidation loan may not offer. If you work in the public sector, are in the military or taking advantage of a federal department of relief program, such as income based repayment or public service forgiveness, you may not want to refinance, as these benefits do not transfer to private refinance/consolidation loans.
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 May 1, 2020.
Fixed APR: Annual Percentage Rate [APR] is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rate options range from 2.88% (without autopay) to 7.27% (without autopay) and will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. Rates are subject to change without notice. Fixed rate options without an autopay discount consist of a range from 2.88% per year to 6.21% per year for a 5-year term, 3.40% per year to 6.25% per year for a 7-year term, 3.45% to 5.08% for a 8-year term, 3.89% per year to 6.65% per year for a 10-year term, 4.18% per year to 5.11% per year for a 12-year term, 4.20% per year to 7.05% per year for a 15-year term, or 4.51% per year to 7.27% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. The fixed interest rate will apply until the loan is paid in full (whether before or after default, and whether before or after the scheduled maturity date of the loan).
Variable APR: Annual Percentage Rate [APR] is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Variable rate options range from 1.99% (with autopay) to 7.10% (without autopay) and will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. Our lowest rate option is shown with a 0.25% autopay discount. Our highest rate option does not include an autopay discount. The variable rates are based on the Variable rate index, is 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 April 27, 2020, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.43763%. The interest rate on a variable rate loan is comprised of an index and margin added together. The margin is a fixed amount (disclosed at the time of your loan application) added each month to the index to determine the next month’s variable rate. Variable rate options without an autopay discount consist of a range from 2.01% per year to 6.30% per year for a 5-year term, 4.00% per year to 6.35% per year for a 7-year term, 2.09% per year to 3.92% per year for a 8-year term, 4.25% per year to 6.40% per year for a 10-year term, 2.67% per year to 4.56% per year for a 12-year term, 3.44% per year to 6.65% per year for a 15-year term, 4.75% per year to 6.93% per year for a 20-year term, or 5.14% per year to 7.10% for a 25-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. Variable interest rates 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 co-signer. The maximum variable rate may be between 9.00% and 16.00%, depending on loan term. The floor rate may be between 0.54% and 4.21%, depending on loan term. These rates are 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.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 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 3.19% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.43% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.43% 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 June 15, 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 6/15/2020. 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.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). 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 0.2% effective May 10, 2020.