If you are a teacher, you may be able to have up to $17,500 (for certain science, math, and special education teachers), or up to $5,000 (for other qualifying teachers) of your federal student loans forgiven through the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program.
The Teacher Loan Forgiveness program has very specific requirements that many teachers can’t meet. If you don’t qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program, you may be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. Even if you do qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program, the PSLF program may still be a better option for you if you plan to teach or work in public service for at least ten years because there is no cap on the amount of loans you can have forgiven under PSLF.
Note: You can’t receive credit for Teacher Loan Forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) at the same time. That means, if you get loan forgiveness through the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program, the five-year period of service that supported your eligibility will NOT count toward PSLF. If you have more than $17,500 in student loans and are planning to teach or work in public service for at least ten years, you may want to consider PSLF instead of Teacher Loan Forgiveness. Learn more on our PSLF page.
Am I Eligible for Teacher Loan Forgiveness?
In order to qualify for Teacher Loan Forgiveness you have to:
- work full-time as a highly qualified teacher for five complete and consecutive academic years;
- have only Direct Loans or FFEL Stafford Loans that were issued after October 1, 1998;
- work at an elementary school, middle, high school, or educational service agency that serves low-income students;
- be seeking forgiveness for loans that were made before the end of your five academic years of qualifying teaching.
To be eligible for up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness, you must meet all the requirements above and teach high school math or science, or special education. If you didn’t teach math, science, or special education, you may receive up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness if you meet the other requirements.
What is a highly qualified teacher?
The Department of Education has a detailed list of requirements in order to be considered a highly qualified teacher. These requirements may be slightly different depending on whether you are a new teacher and what level you teach (elementary school, middle, or high school). See the full list of requirements on the Federal Student Aid website.
In general, to be a highly qualified teacher, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree; be a state-certified teacher; not had your certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis; and show that you have a high level of competency in your subject area usually by passing a state licensing exam depending on how long you have been teaching and what level you teach.
How Do I Apply for Teacher Loan Forgiveness?
After you completed your five years of qualified teaching, you can apply for Teacher Loan Forgiveness by completing the Teacher Loan Forgiveness application and sending it to your loan servicer.
I’m a Teacher. Can I Get My Perkins Loans Canceled?
Maybe. Perkins loans may be fully canceled for full-time teachers working at low-income schools or teaching certain subject areas. See the full list of requirements for Perkins Loan Forgiveness on the Federal Student Aid website.
If you meet the requirements, contact your college or university that holds your Perkins Loans to ask for the application. You have to apply for Perkins Loan Forgiveness by submitting the application to your college or university.