What is the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program?

Sage Crary
Sage Crary
Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships, pursuing an MS in Ethics and Religion
Student Loan Forgiveness document placed on desk.

If you’re considering advancing your career through education, but you’ve been hesitant to take out student loans, this is for you. Under the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, you may be eligible to have up to $17,500 of your student loan balance written off (aka completely eliminated).

Once you graduate, if you teach full time for five consecutive years in a low-income school (or educational service agency), you may be eligible to have up to $17,500 of your Federal Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized loans eliminated (so yes, this could include any eligible student loan debt from your bachelor’s degree too!). However, there are a few things that you should keep in mind if you want to apply for this program.

First of all, does where you work qualify you for the program? If you are a teacher in a federally approved ‘low-income’ school district (or educational service agency), you may qualify. Every year the U.S. Department of Education puts out an updated list of all the approved schools. While this list may change annually, it’s always a good idea to check ahead when you are interviewing for where you want to work to see if your school qualifies. Check to see if your school qualifies.

Do You Qualify?

Second of all, do YOU as a borrower qualify? Any Federal Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized loan balances can qualify, as long as you are in good standing on your payments. If you are in default on your student loan debt, you will need to be back in good financial standing with your loans before the remaining balance can be forgiven. But if you make your payments on time, and you borrow only Subsidized or Unsubsidized loans, you should be in good shape for forgiveness. It’s also important to note that Direct Plus Loans and Perkins Loans do not qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.

The good news is that applying for this program is easy. After you’ve completed your five years of service at an eligible school, you can submit your Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application to your loan servicer (aka, who you send your payments to each month). However, it’s always a good idea to contact your servicer before you start your five years of teaching, just in case they have any specific annual requirements. Here’s current application for forgiveness. Your chief administrative officer (or HR Office) at your school will need to complete the certification section prior to your submission to the loan servicer.

There is also a little known secret: If you have more than $17,500 in qualified Federal Direct Student Loans, you could qualify for even MORE forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program as well! For more information on qualifying for both programs together, check out the Federal Student Aid page.

Interested in learning more about your financial aid options for graduate school? Explore our comprehensive funding e-guide here.

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