4 Loan Forgiveness Programs for Teachers

teachers do you have student loans?

1. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program

Forgives the remaining balance on your Federal Direct Loans after 120 qualifying payments (10 years).

View complete program details at StudentAid.gov/publicservice.

Here are some highlights:

  • This program has the broadest employment qualification requirements of the federal programs listed—it doesn’t require that you teach at a low-income a public school, or even be a teacher. Most full-time public and private elementary and secondary school teachers will meet the employment requirements.
  • You must have Direct Loans. If you have other types of federal loans, like FFEL or Perkins Loans, you must consolidate in order for those loans to qualify. To check which types of loans you have, log in to StudentAid.gov.
  • You should repay your loans on an income-driven repayment plan if you want to get the most value out of the program. You can apply for an income-driven repayment plan on StudentLoans.gov.
  • In order for payments to count toward the 120 needed to get forgiveness, they need to be full payments, made no more than 15 days late, and made after October 1, 2007.
  • Loan amounts forgiven under PSLF are NOT considered taxable by the IRS.

To confirm whether you qualify for the program, submit this form ASAP.


2. Teacher Loan Forgiveness

Forgives up to $17,500 of your Direct or FFEL Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loans after 5 complete and consecutive years of teaching at a qualifying school.

View complete program details at StudentAid.gov/teach-forgive.

Here are some highlights:

  • You must have been employed as a full-time teacher at an eligible school for five complete and consecutive academic years, and at least one of those years must have been after the 1997–98 academic year.
  • Certain highly qualified special education and secondary mathematics or science teachers can qualify for up to $17,500 in forgiveness. Other eligible teachers can qualify for up to $5,000.
  • PLUS loans and Perkins loans are not eligible to be forgiven through this program.
  • Any time you spent teaching to receive benefits through AmeriCorps cannot be counted toward your required five years of teaching for Teacher Loan Forgiveness.
  • You apply for teacher loan forgiveness after you have completed the five-year teaching requirement.

Print and complete the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application.


 3. Perkins Loan Cancellation for Teachers

Forgives up to 100% of your Federal Perkins Loan Program if you teach full-time at a low-income school, or if you teach certain subjects.
View complete program details at StudentAid.gov/teach-forgive.

Here are some highlights:

  • This program can only forgive your Federal Perkins Loans. Check to see if you have Perkins loans at StudentAid.gov.
  • If you are eligible for this program, up to 100 percent of the loan may be canceled for teaching service, in the following increments:
    • 15 percent canceled per year for the first and second years of service
    • 20 percent canceled for the third and fourth years
    • 30 percent canceled for the fifth year
    • Each amount canceled per year includes the interest that accrued during the year.
  • To find out if a school is classified as a low-income school, check our online database for the year(s) you have been employed as a teacher.
  • Even if you don’t teach at a low-income school, you may qualify if you teach mathematics, science, foreign languages, bilingual or special education, or different subject determined by your state education agency to have a shortage of qualified teachers in your state.
  • Private school teachers can qualify if the school has established its nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and if the school is providing elementary and/or secondary education according to state law.

To apply for Perkins Cancellation, contact the school(s) where you obtained the Perkins Loan. Each school has its own process.


 4. State-Sponsored Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Tons of states offer loan forgiveness programs for teachers—especially if you teach in a high need area. The American Federation of Teachers has a great searchable database you can use to find state and local forgiveness programs you might qualify for.


You may qualify for more than one of the programs listed above. In some instances though, your decision to take advantage of one program may impact your ability to take advantage of another. For example:

  • You must have Direct Loans in order to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. If you have any Perkins Loans, you may be tempted to consolidate them into the Direct Loan Program in order to make them eligible for PSLF. However, if you do that, you’ll no longer qualify for Perkins Cancellation. You may be better off leaving your Perkins Loans out of the consolidation loan so you can take advantage of both programs.
  • 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. For example, if you make payments on your loans during your five years of qualifying employment for Teacher Loan Forgiveness and then receive loan forgiveness for that service, the payments you made during that five year period will not count toward PSLF.

As you’re trying to decide which option(s) are right for you, consult your federal loan servicer. They can give you advice based on your specific situation.


Nicole Callahan is a Digital Engagement Strategist at the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.

Photo by Getty Images.

33 Comments

  1. I’m a SPED teacher. I worked in a DoDEA school for 2 years from 2012-14, as a part time SPED teacher/History teacher at a school on the Navajo Nation (not BIE) but Title 1, and I’m in the 2nd year of a Title 1 school in Memphis.

    I’ve already had some Perkins Loans cancelled.

    What are my options for forgiveness with these Stafford loans?

    I’m currently in a graduate program for Ed Administration.

    • You can look into Teacher Loan Forgiveness or PSLF for your Direct (Stafford) loans.

  2. I have 5 years of teaching experience in a low-income district, however, 4 years are in one low-income school and one is in another low-income school. My 5 years are consecutive, just in two districts. Am I eligible for TEACHER LOAN FORGIVENESS and if so, how should I properly fill out the paperwork when there is only room for one school on the application?

    • If you taught at more than one school during the same academic year, the chief administrative officer from one of the schools may complete the certification section. If you taught at different schools during different academic years, the chief administrative officers from all of the schools must certify your eligibility. If you need more than one chief administrative officer’s certification, the additional certifications may be provided on a separate piece of paper and submitted with your completed application. Return the completed application to your loan holder or loan servicer. If you are applying for forgiveness of loans that are held by different loan holders or loan servicers, you must submit a separate form to each of them. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/teacher#how-do-i-apply

  3. If I have consolidated my loans with my husband, who is not in public service, does this disqualify me from loan forgiveness?

    • Generally, you probably won’t be eligible. It would be best to talk to your loan servicer for details because every situation is different depending on the type of loan you have and what forgiveness program you’re seeking. Here is one example:

      Question: Can a joint FFEL Consolidation Loan that I obtained with my spouse be consolidated into a Direct Consolidation Loan so that one or both of us can qualify for PSLF?

      Answer: No. The law no longer permits joint consolidation loans to be made, so joint FFEL Consolidation Loan borrowers may not jointly reconsolidate their FFEL Consolidation Loan into a Direct Consolidation Loan. In addition, a borrower may not individually reconsolidate a joint FFEL Consolidation Loan into a new Direct Consolidation Loan to take advantage of PSLF.

    • Regarding PSLF: Parents who received a Direct PLUS Loan may qualify for forgiveness of the PLUS loan, if the parent
      borrower—not the student on whose behalf the loan was obtained—is employed by a qualified employer.

      To benefit from PSLF, a parent PLUS borrower must consolidate their parent PLUS loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan, and then repay the consolidation loan under the Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR) plan, which is one of the qualifying PSLF repayment plans.
      https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service#eligible-loans

  4. I have been in a deferment state with my loans because I have not been successful acquiring a contracted teaching position. Are there any forgiveness programs for me?

  5. The Nations who are having respect for their teachers have found the real place on earth. The era is of US and only because states peoples have a great contribution for teachers respect, facilitations and care.

    Very much appreciated

  6. I am a 2nd year teacher and currently paying back my student loans for obtaining my bachelors degree. I am looking at completing a masters program. If I get student loans for my masters degree that are lumped into the same category as the ones from my bachelors, how does the 120 payments work? I am currently already paying, but am about to accrue more. Do they count the payments I have already made, or do I start all over after I finish my masters?

    • Your loans for the masters degree will not be automatically combined with your undergrad degree loans. Even if they are all Direct loans, they will be treated separately for PSLF. If you receive new Direct Subsidized Loans or Direct Unsubsidized Loans when you return to school, you will not be able to make qualifying PSLF payments on those loans while you are in school. Any new Direct Loans you receive will not enter repayment until the end of the six-month grace period. Although you could voluntarily make payments on your new Direct Loans while you are in school or during your grace period, those payments would not count toward PSLF.

      After you finish your master’s, you can consolidate (combine) your undergrad and graduate loans. But, only payments made on your new Direct Consolidation Loan will count toward PSLF.
      https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/consolidation

      Payments that you made on Direct Loans prior to consolidation do not count toward the 120 required payments for PSLF. You will need to make 120 qualifying payments on the new Direct Consolidation Loan. For this reason, if you have made qualifying PSLF payments on your Direct Loans and you are thinking of consolidating those loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan along with loans you received under other federal student loan programs, you should leave your Direct Loans out of the consolidation and consolidate only your loans from other federal student loan programs.

  7. I am a teacher in a critical shortage and low income school. When I looked into loan forgiveness I was told I would qualify except for the fact that I began college in 1996 and therefore have loans beginning in 1996. Is there any help for me?!? I have plenty of loans after 1996, as I didn’t graduate until 2001. It is very unfair!!

    • You should evaluate what types of loans you have and see if these options are applicable to you. Talk to your loan servicer if you need more info about your account.

      For PSLF: In order for payments to count toward the 120 needed to get forgiveness, they need to be full payments, made no more than 15 days late, and made after October 1, 2007.

      For Teacher Loan Forgiveness: You must have been employed as a full-time teacher at an eligible school for five complete and consecutive academic years, and at least one of those years must have been after the 1997–98 academic year.

      To apply for Perkins Cancellation, contact the school(s) where you obtained the Perkins Loan. Each school has its own process.

  8. As a fulltime nurse educator for a health system and a parttime professor for a community college – am I eligible for any form of Student Loan fogiveness for my Master’s program loan?

    • You will have to evaluate your loans, what type of loans they are, and see if these programs are applicable to you. This blog is specifically for Federal student loans. Private loans are not eligible. Ask your employer if they meet the criteria for a qualifying employer for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Please click on the links for more information for each specific program.

  9. Hi,

    I’m 34 and I’d like to finish my degree. I’m currently unmarried with two kids and live with their father as a stay at home Mom. He may or may not claim me as a dependant on his taxes. If he doesn’t claim me as a dependant do I need to claim his income on my fafsa? Any other advice on my situation and filling out the fafsa would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!

    • It doesn’t matter if someone else claims you on their taxes. That is not related to your FAFSA. The FAFSA will ask you about tax information from 2015. If you filed taxes, try to use the IRS Data Tool which will automatically fill in your tax questions. If you did not file 2015 taxes, you can select “Not going to file.” Simple! Since you are 34, you will be considered an “independent” student. If you are married, you will have to report your spouse’s financial information.

      More tips here: https://blog.ed.gov/2016/09/8-steps-filling-fafsa/

  10. I’m very skeptical of all these companies calling me pushing me into this program. I asked what is in it for them. At first he said nothing but then the 49$ a month goes to the “company ” for 36 months to keep you in the program. That is 1800$ to a “paper work company” that shuffles the papers to the education department. I’m not convinced this is legit. Can someone assure me?

  11. Are you able to do a combination of any of these Programs if you have all of the loans eligible? For example, the PSLF Program, Teacher Loan forgiveness, and the Perkins loan forgiveness?

    • There are a few regulations regarding forgiveness overlap. Overall, it really depends on your unique situation and for you to decide what is best for you.

      For Teacher Loan Forgiveness, the application states this:
      You must not have received benefits through loan forgiveness under the Direct Loan Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program for the same teaching service for which you are seeking forgiveness on your Direct Loan and/or FFEL program loans.

      For PSLF, Perkins Loans do not qualify. You’ll have to consolidate your Perkins loans if you want to pursue PSLF. Consolidating your Perkins loans means you will no longer have Perkins loans! You’ll have a brand new Direct Consolidation Loan, which means you won’t be able to take advantage of the Teacher cancellation for Federal Perkins Loans if you consolidate first. You’ll have to evaluate your loans and your options. Talk to your loan servicer if you’d like more info.

  12. Would it be better for me to spend the rest of my life stressing out over an exorbitant amount of student loan debt that I will literally never be able to pay off, or to strap myself onto the head of a rocket and blast myself into the deepest regions of outer-space? I seriously can’t figure it out!

    • Parents who received a Direct PLUS Loan may qualify for forgiveness of the PLUS loan, if the parent borrower—not the student on whose behalf the loan was obtained—is employed by a public service organization. To benefit from PSLF, a parent PLUS borrower must consolidate their parent PLUS loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan, and then repay the consolidation loan under the Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR) plan, which is one of the qualifying PSLF repayment plans.
      https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/public-service#eligible-loans

  13. Are their any loan forgiveness for administration because I’ve been at a 100% Free Lunch program school for 4 years?

  14. When I suggest to a student who is borrowing heavily to cut back on their loans because their tuition is already being paid for by grants and I know they couldn’t possibly pay off the $90 grand in loans they have borrowed already, let alone what they plan to borrow, this is the program they point to to rationalize their over borrowing. Do you see the problem here?

    • Students should only borrow what they need. Regarding PSLF: We cannot make any guarantees about the future availability of PSLF. The PSLF Program was created by Congress, and Congress could change or end the PSLF Program.

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