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:
- Teacher loan forgiveness for Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans, and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans
- Teacher cancellation for Federal Perkins Loans
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.