Student Loan Forgiveness Programs for Teachers
Teaching can be a great way to earn student loan forgiveness. This article lays out some programs that offer this deal.
Teachers may love what they do, but they often don’t love the student loan debt they have as a result of their schooling.
The good news is that there are a number of student loan forgiveness programs for teachers. If you’re a teacher, understanding what’s available to you can go a long way toward helping you move forward and get out of debt a little faster.
Federal student loan forgiveness programs for teachers
First of all, there are federal student loan forgiveness programs for teachers designed to help teachers pay off some or all of their loan balances. In order to qualify, though, you have to meet certain conditions. Here are some of the more prominent federal programs.
Perkins Loan cancellation
If you have a Federal Perkins Loan, you can have it canceled after you complete teaching at a low-income school, or if you teach certain in-demand subjects. Cancelation works starting your first year of service and continues through your fifth year, and includes accrued interest for that year.
- 15% for the first year
- 15% for the second year
- 20% for the third year
- 20% for the fourth year
- 30% for the fifth year
As you can see, at the end of your fifth year, 100% of your Perkins Loans could be canceled. This program only applies to Perkins Loans, though, so you need to look to other programs for the rest of your student loan balances.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
One of the most popular student loan forgiveness programs for teachers is the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program. If you have federal student loans and you teach for five consecutive years at a qualifying school, you can receive forgiveness for up to $17,500 of your loan balance.
As part of this program, as long as your loan balance is less than what you’ll be forgiven, you can also apply for a special Teacher Loan Forbearance program. This way, you can teach for five years without making student loan payments and then have the amount forgiven later.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Teachers are also eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). When you teach at a qualifying public or even some nonprofit private schools, you could potentially have your loans forgiven after you make 120 qualifying payments.
PSLF often works well in conjunction with income-driven repayment. With income-driven repayment, you can make qualifying payments based on your monthly income — including payments of $0 per month, if your income is low enough. After 10 years, your remaining balance is entirely forgiven, and you don’t even have to pay taxes on the forgiven amount.
Planning out how to best use PSLF to help you manage your student loan debt can be a good way to do what you love while getting rid of student loan debt.
State student loan forgiveness programs for teachers
Even if you don’t end up qualifying for federal-level student loan forgiveness programs for teachers, you might still be able to get some portion of your student loans forgiven with the help of state programs.
State student loan forgiveness programs often focus on areas of particular need, whether it’s a geographic location or a subject. States use these programs to encourage teachers to stay in their state for a specific period of time.
You might not have the same amount of forgiveness, but you could potentially receive it faster. The American Federation of Teachers offers a database of searchable options that include state programs for teacher student loan forgiveness.
What about private student loan forgiveness for teachers?
Many of the student loan forgiveness programs for teachers focus on federal student loans. So, if you have private loans, you might not be eligible to have those forgiven. You can get your federal student loans taken care of, but you might still have private loans.
There are some alternatives, though. Some state teacher loan forgiveness programs do include private student loans. Additionally, if you work for a private school or some other employer, your private employer might be willing to help you pay down your private student loans.
Refinancing your teacher student loans
Another option is to refinance your teacher student loans. If you have federal loans, you can consolidate them and take advantage of programs like income-driven repayment and federal student loan forgiveness programs for teachers. Refinancing might not make sense in these situations, especially if you’re working a low-pay job related to teaching.
On the other hand, though, if you won’t qualify for PSLF, or if you have some debt remaining after participating in Teacher Loan Forgiveness, you might benefit from refinancing. Additionally, because private student loan forgiveness for teachers is difficult to come by, it can also make sense to refinance your private loans.
With refinancing, you replace your current loans with one bigger loan. Often, refinancing results in a lower interest rate and can help you tackle your debt faster. A program like Juno can help you compare different offers from lenders and figure out what’s likely to best fit your situation. When refinancing student loans with the help of Juno, you might have access to special rate discounts and deals that aren’t available elsewhere. This can save you money over the long haul while helping you get out of debt faster.
Refinancing isn’t for everyone, though. Carefully consider your options and compare offers to find what works best for you. Working with a company like Juno, though, can help you move forward and find a better potential situation.
Because teachers are in high demand, there are a number of federal and state programs that try to incentivize teaching. Before you assume that you’ll have to try to repay all of your student loan debt on a teacher’s salary, take a look at the student loan forgiveness programs for teachers. You might be surprised to find that you’re eligible to have at least some of your loans forgiven, providing you with a way to do what you love and still afford the other parts of life.
Miranda has 10+ years of experience covering financial markets for various online and offline publications, including contributions to Marketwatch, NPR, Forbes, FOX Business, Yahoo Finance, and The Hill. She is the co-host of the Money Tree Investing podcast and she has a Master of Arts in Journalism from Syracuse University
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