What is Teacher Loan Forgiveness?
Teaching has many benefits, but high salary is not always one of them. This is where teacher loan forgiveness comes in. If you’re struggling to pay back your student loans on your current income, there’s no time to waste. Unlike most other loans, student loans have a couple of forgiveness options if you have a teaching career. Learn all about what is teacher loan forgiveness and how it can help make your life easier. Take away the stress of student loans so you can focus on what really matters: your students.
Being eligible is the first step in loan forgiveness.
How do you know if you’re eligible?
First, you have to have a certain type of student loan, and they must be in good standing.
Federal direct loans (subsidized or unsubsidized), federal Stafford loans (subsidized or unsubsidized), and federal Perkins loans are the types of eligible loans.
You won’t qualify for forgiveness if your loans are in default unless you make repayment arrangements that meet certain standards.
There is also a time period required before you can be eligible for loan forgiveness. Once you have taught at a Title 1 school for five academic years in a row, you may qualify.
The kind of school you teach at is another factor. Loan forgiveness is specifically geared toward teachers at low-income schools. For at least one year of your teaching career there, your school needs to have been on the Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits (Title I list).
If you don’t meet all these requirements, don’t worry. There might be other forms of teacher loan forgiveness for you. Use a database like this one to start your search for options.
2. Loan Amounts
You might be wondering what is teacher loan forgiveness and just how much help you can get with your student loans.
It depends on a number of factors. If you work in an elementary school, you can get loan forgiveness of up to $5,000. To get this loan forgiveness, you may have to obtain verification that the subject you taught was relevant to your major. You may also have to demonstrate certain knowledge and teaching skills. You also have to be certified by the state.
If you teach math, science, or special education, the number is much higher. Loan forgiveness in these fields can go as high as $17,500. There is more demand for teachers in these subjects, so this loan forgiveness means the government is hoping to entice more people to teach them.
However, it does require more qualifications and certifications in these fields in order to qualify for this loan forgiveness.
No matter what, you must be a full-time teacher to get teacher loan forgiveness.
3. Application process
Now that you know whether or not you’re eligible, and how much you might expect to get, it’s time to look at the application process. First, you’ll need to print and fill out a Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application.
Most of the form will be done by you. However, you also need your school’s chief administrative official — likely the principal or dean — to do the certification section for you.
If the five years of teaching toward your teacher loan forgiveness were at different schools, you’ll need to get your eligibility certified by administrators from each of the schools you worked at.
When you have your application complete, you will submit it to your loan servicer.
Once this is done, it may take some time for your teacher loan forgiveness to come through. You might not hear back about your loan forgiveness for up to 45 days.
You might request a forbearance from your loan servicer so that you can get the highest amount of forgiveness possible. A forbearance allows you to temporarily stop making payments on your student loans.
You can get an incremental forbearance for each of the years that you teach. This allows you to not make extra payments on loan amounts that are likely to be forgiven anyway.
Incomplete academic years
If you didn’t complete one of your five minimum teaching years, you might still qualify. If you completed at least half of the year, and the employer considers you to have still fulfilled your contract, it can still count.
The reason for your incomplete year needs to be one of the following:
1) You went back to school at least half-time to study a subject directly related to your teaching service
2) You had a health issue covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
3) You were called to active duty as an armed forces reserve
A federal Perkins loan might also qualify for loan cancellation, which is a different kind of student loan. If you were teaching full-time at a low-income school, or if you taught certain subjects, you may qualify.
Cancellation can be applied for if you taught low-income students.
For example, if you taught special education, or if you taught math, science, or foreign languages. Other fields might also qualify, depending on where a state’s education agency sees as teacher shortages.
There is some overlap between teacher loan forgiveness and the cancellation program. So, if you qualify for one, it’s worthwhile to look into both.
State loan forgiveness
Each state may also have unique teacher loan forgiveness programs.
If you teach in a low-income area, chances are even better that your state has some loan forgiveness you can use. Use the database mentioned above to search for what your state has to offer.
Teacher loan forgiveness works both to get teachers into much-needed fields and to assist them with loans once they’re working. If you have more questions about what is teacher loan forgiveness, your loan servicer can help. Contact them to answer other questions about your eligibility and the application process.
If you’re considering a teaching career, it can be good to take these options into account as you decide what and where to teach.
If you’re years into your teaching career, you may already qualify for loan forgiveness.
And if you don’t qualify yet, knowing these steps and requirements might help you change that.
The more you know about loans and what is teacher loan forgiveness, the more empowered you will be to focus on your teaching career. Don’t wait–start thinking about your loan forgiveness now.
If you have any questions please feel free to drop a comment below!
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