If you’re planning on becoming a teacher, you can pursue loan forgiveness. The Teacher Loan Forgiveness program is basically a reward to you for working income schools, but you have to meet all of the program criteria.
How To Qualify
- You have to work five years in a row (with one of the five years happening after the 1997/1998 academic year) in a school that must have been designated as low income and the school must also be eligible for federal funds under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 as amended.
- If you began teaching after October 30th 2004, you can potentially get up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness if you are considered to be a highly qualified elementary or secondary teacher.
- If you started teaching before October 30th 2004, then you would potentially qualify for $5,000 in loan forgiveness if you were a full time secondary school teacher who taught a subject consistent with your major or a full time elementary school teacher (teaching in the areas of math, reading, writing, or another area.)
- You can potentially get $17,500 in loan forgiveness for being a highly qualified teacher in math or science in a secondary school or if you are a highly qualified special education teacher at the elementary school or secondary school level and this was your major.
- If you are currently in default on your federal loans, you will want to bring your loans out of default (or have set up some kind of payment arrangements) before being able to potentially qualify.
The chief administrative officer at your school can certify your eligibility. You will make your application after you have finished teaching your fifth year of school (but be sure to research this and all other possible programs beforehand). The application is typically made with your lender.
You can’t have an outstanding balance on a Direct Loan before October 1st 1998 (can’t have taken out any loans after this time) or, at least, can’t have an outstanding balance on a Direct (or FFEL) loan after October 1st 1998 (must have paid off your older loan before having taken any new loan out after this time).
The loan that you want forgiven has to have been given to you before you finish your five years of teaching. You cannot double dip with benefits through AmericCorps – your five years can be potentially applied to one or the other program but not both (for these five years of teaching).
The school you work for has to be chosen by Ed (The U.S. Department of Education) in such a way that more than 30% of the school kids qualify for Title 1 assistance. Your school will be listed here. Schools that may also qualify (for being part of the Bureau of Indian Education Schools are also listed). Working for an Educational Service Agency may also qualify. The school you work for need only qualify for one of your five years. Other rules may apply.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness is available for Direct Subsidized (and Unsubsidized) Loans, Subsidized (and Unsubsidized) Federal Stafford Loans. Ed also provides the following definition of a teacher on their website: “A teacher is a person who provides direct classroom teaching or classroom-type teaching in a non-classroom setting.”