Student Loan Forgiveness for Teachers

Katie Taylor Updated: April 30, 2019

If you’re working as a teacher, you know the power that comes from making a difference in kids’ lives. But you might also know the anxiety that accompanies high student loan bills on a teacher’s salary.

Even though teacher salaries aren’t on par with other professional fields in the United States, education degrees can be pricey.

Fortunately, both the federal government and many state governments have created programs that provide financial support—often in the form of loan forgiveness—to educators.

Understanding the details of various student loan relief programs can seem daunting, so we’ve outlined the primary offerings for teachers looking for ways to manage their debt load.  

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

Under this federal program, if you teach full-time for five consecutive academic years in a school or educational service agency that serves low-income students, you may be eligible for forgiveness of a portion of your Direct or Federal Stafford loans. Unfortunately, PLUS loans are not eligible.

Forgiveness is capped at $5,000 for most teachers, though special education, math, and science teachers may receive more (up to $17,500).

To benefit from the program, educators must be “highly qualified.” For many teachers, state certification or a teaching license satisfy the requirement, but teachers new to the profession may have to complete additional testing.

Don’t worry if you’ve consolidated your Direct and Federal Stafford loans through a Direct Consolidation Loan. You may still be eligible to have that portion of your consolidation loan forgiven.

You can apply for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program here. Close readers will see that this form expired in July 2017. The U.S. Department of Education has promised that the form will remain viable until a new form is created.

See also 5 Student Loan Forgiveness Scams to Look out for in 2018.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

While the public service loan forgiveness program is not limited to teachers, educators benefit greatly from the program, which forgives all remaining student loans for eligible borrowers after 10 years of on-time payments under an income-driven repayment plan.

Unlike most of the other forgiveness options for teachers, to qualify for PSLF, you don’t have to teach a particular subject or work in a specific geographic area. Public educators may be eligible for PSLF simply by working for a government organization.  

If you teach in a school that makes you eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, you may receive the benefit from both.

To participate in the PSLF program, you must submit a certification form from your employer. The U.S. Department of Education recommends that you send in the form as early as possible when you begin making loan payments.

Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation

Like PSLF, the Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation program is not limited to teachers—it applies to many professions. But educators with outstanding Perkins loans may be eligible to have up to 100% of their loans forgiven.

To qualify, a teacher must provide education in a public or nonprofit school and:

  • teach in a critical shortage area (such as math or science)
  • work with students with disabilities, or
  • work in a school that serves low-income students.

If you qualify for Perkins Loan Cancellation, you could receive forgiveness for 15% of your loans your first and second years, 20% your third and fourth years, and 30% your fifth year.

To apply for loan cancellation, contact the school that provided the loan.

Imagine Life Without a Student Loan Payment... Start Saving Now!

State Teacher Forgiveness Programs

Many states also provide forgiveness or repayment assistance options to encourage new teachers to enter into particular shortage areas.

For instance, New York’s loan forgiveness program provides up to $24,000 forgiveness to educators working with special populations, such as students who need bilingual education, those who are hearing impaired or have speech or language disabilities, in specific high-need districts. A teacher must commit to six consecutive years teaching in New York to benefit from the program.

Other states—like Arkansas, Maine, and Iowa—also have programs. Check with your state Department of Education to see if you might be eligible for student loan forgiveness.

If you need help managing your student loans now, learn about ways you can lower your monthly payments.

Refinance & Save Today With These Leading Lenders

#1 - Nitro Recommended View More Details

Special offers for medical resident and fellow refinance products

  • Fixed rates: 4.39% - 9.24% APR
  • Variable rates: 2.50% - 9.24% APR
  • Minimum credit: 650
View More Details
Visit Splash View Loan Disclosure

Splash Financial is a leader in student loan refinancing with some of the lowest fixed in the industry which can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loans. No application or origination fees and no prepayment penalties. Splash Financial is in all 50 states and is intensely focused on customer service. Splash Financial is also one of the few companies that offers a great medical resident and fellow refinance product. You can check your rate with Splash in just minutes.

  • Low interest rates – especially for graduate students
  • No application or origination fees. No prepayment penalties.
  • Co-signer release program - you can apply for a cosigner release form your loan after 12 months of on-time payments
  • Specialty product for doctors in training with low monthly payment

Click here to see more of Splash's offerings and to see how you can save money.

#2 View More Details

SoFi is the leading student loan refinancing provider. 

  • Fixed rates: 3.99% - 8.24% APR
  • Variable rates: 2.49% - 7.99% APR
  • Minimum credit: 650
View More Details
Visit SoFi View Loan Disclosure

$30 billion+ in refinanced student loans. SoFi has some of the lowest interest rates and, unlike the other lenders we reviewed, there's no maximum on the amount you can finance. Some state restrictions may apply.

  • Serious savings: Save thousands of dollars thanks to flexible terms and low fixed or variable rates.
  • No hidden fees, no catch: No application or origination fees. No pre-payment penalties.
  • Fast, easy, and all online: Simple online application and access to live customer support 7 days a week.
  • Access to member benefits: SoFi members get career coaching, financial advice, and more—all at no cost.
  • 98% of surveyed members would recommend SoFi to a friend

Save thousands on your student loans and pay off your loans sooner. Find your rate.

#3 View More Details

Works with 300+ community lenders for higher approval chances

  • Fixed rates: 2.49% - 7.75% APR
  • Variable rates: 1.90% - 5.25% APR
  • Minimum credit: 660
View More Details
Visit LendKey View Loan Disclosure

Connecting student borrowers to a network of over 300 community lenders with low interest rates. By partnering with these lenders, LendKey is able to give consumers direct access to the best rates available from the most borrower friendly institutions. As the servicer of all loans obtained through its platform, you can rest easy knowing your personal information will be safe and that the best customer service team will be ready to answer your questions from application until your final payment.

LendKey Student Loan Refinance review

  • Lightning fast rate check - 2-minute rate check with no impact on your credit score
  • More lenders, more options - see the best offers from over 300+ community lenders for higher approval chances
  • Life of loan relationship - With LendKey, your personal information will never be sent or passed on to third parties. Their customer service team is with you from the moment you land on their website until you've completely repaid your loan.
  • Unmatched benefits- Community lenders put people over profits and offer unique benefits like cosigner release after 12 on-time payments, interest only repayment options to keep monthly payments low, the largest unemployment protection period in the market, and more.

Get a personalized quote from LendKey now.

#4 View More Details

Best for borrowers who want to customize their repayment schedule to pay off debt fast.

View More Details
Visit Earnest View Loan Disclosure

Using technology, data, and design to build affordable products, Earnest's lending products are built for a new generation seeking to reach life's milestones. The company understands every applicant's unique financial story to offer the lowest possible rates and radically flexible loan options for living life.

  • Commitment-free 2 minute rate check
  • Client Happiness can be reached via in app messaging, email, and phone 
  • No fees for origination, prepayment, or loan disbursement
  • Flexible terms let you pick your exact monthly payment or switch between fixed and variable rates
  • Skip a payment and make it up later
  • Online dashboard is designed to make it easy to apply for and manage your loan

Click here to apply with Earnest and to see how much you can save.

I reduced my student loan payment by $152 per month, by refinancing thru Nitro

Save Money Now