Everything You Need to Know About Financial Aid Resources for Teachers

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We know that preparing to become a teacher can be expensive. Sometimes it’s tough to pay all of the bills on time, including student loans. But there are resources and programs out there that teachers can take advantage of and we’ve gathered them all here in one place just for you.

Under certain circumstances, you can get your federal student loans forgiven or even canceled.

First, if you’re still in school and considering teaching, you might be eligible for a TEACH grant. A Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant is different from other federal student grants because it requires you to take certain kinds of classes in order to get the grant, and then do a certain kind of job to keep the grant from turning into a loan. The TEACH Grant Program provides grants of up to $4,000 a year to students who are completing or plan to complete course work needed to begin a career in teaching.

There are also two types of loan forgiveness programs specifically for teachers:

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is intended to encourage teachers to enter into and continue in the teaching profession. For the purposes of financial aid, a ‘teacher’ is a person who provides direct classroom teaching, or classroom-type teaching in a non-classroom setting. And, yes, Special Education teachers are eligible, too! To qualify, you must teach full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years.

If you have a loan from the Federal Perkins Loan Program, you might be eligible for loan cancellation for full-time teaching at a low-income school, or for teaching in certain subject areas. You might also qualify for deferment.

Finally, there’s also the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF), which is available to those who are employed by a government or non-profit — and if you are a teacher that might include you! Presuming you are able to meet specific conditions, PSLF forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 monthly payments under certain repayment plan options while working full-time for a qualifying employer. So, if you have Direct Loans, this might be an option for you.

Additionally, if you receive loan forgiveness under the federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program after completing five years of qualifying teaching service, you might then also qualify for PSLF. However, you may not receive a benefit under both the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program for the same period of teaching service. So, for example, if you make payments on your loans during your five years of employment for which you then receive Teacher Loan Forgiveness – those payments would not be able to count toward PSLF.

And one last thing: with all that information, there’s one more important resource to know about — your loan servicer! A loan servicer is a company that handles the billing and other services on your federal student loan. These folks will work with you on repayment plans and loan consolidation and will assist you with other tasks related to your federal student loan.

Dorothy Amatucci is a Digital Engagement Strategist at the U.S. Department of Education.

9 Comments

  1. I’m returning to school to become an educator after having to drop out 6 years ago- I vaguely remember using some of these programs to help me pay for school, but because it was a private institution, it wasn’t enough to cover all of it. This is why I had to drop out. Of course that means I’ve been repaying it all of this time, but what will that mean if I succeed this time? I doubt I’ll get any sort of reimbursement, but didn’t know if there might be something hopeful to look forward to in this situation.

    • In order to be eligible for any of these programs, you must meet our basic eligibility criteria. This includes being a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen.

      If you already completed college and are seeking PSLF: If you are a full-time employee of a foreign not-for-profit organization that does not operate in the United States and is not a 501(c)(3) organization under the Internal Revenue Code, you will NOT qualify for PSLF.

  2. What about those who teach at community colleges? Often the job is part-time, but you work at multiple institutions because the pay is so poor. What can be done for us?

    • We assume you’re referring to Public Service Loan Forgiveness? As long as the combined number of hours you work for each employer equals at least 30 hours per week, you would qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Just know that each employer must be a qualifying employer for the employment to be included in determining whether you are employed on a full-time basis.
      For example, if you worked for one qualifying employer for 10 hours per week and you concurrently worked for a second qualifying employer for 20 hours per week, this would meet the 30 hours per week requirement. For more, see answer #33: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/public-service-loan-forgiveness-common-questions.pdf

  3. But what about those of us who consolidated our loans into an FFEL loan? I’ve been making my monthly payments consistently for 13 years (and have been a public school teacher for all 13) , but because I consolidated my undergraduate & graduate loans, I don’t qualify for the PSLF. I know I could consolidate them now into a Direct Loan, but I’d have to repay it in 10 years- so no forgiveness there.

    Does anyone know if PSLF will start accepting FFEL loans or are those of us with them just excluded?

    • If you have FFEL Program loans, you may consolidate them into a Direct Consolidation Loan to take advantage of PSLF. However, only payments you make on the new Direct Consolidation Loan will count toward the required 120 qualifying payments for PSLF. Payments made on your FFEL Program loans before they were consolidated, even if they were made under a qualifying repayment plan, do not count as eligible PSLF payments.

  4. Thanks!
    Very informative, succinct and helpful article of financial resources for teachers.

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