Teachers and educators could have up to $17,500 forgiven from their federal student loans.
Teachers that have taught full-time for more than five consecutive academic years could have up to $17,500 in federal student loan debt.
Depending on the subject that the educator is teaching will determine how much of their loans will be forgiven. Teachers that teach subjects such as mathematics, science, and/or special education could be forgiven $17,500. For educators who teach other subjects, they could be forgiven $5,000 of their federal student loans.
To qualify for this forgiveness, an educator must fall in the category of a “highly qualified” teacher. This entails that the educator has at least a bachelor’s degree, has a full state certification as a teacher, and hasn’t had any certifications or license requirements waived, revoked, or suspended for any reason. While being categorized as “highly qualified” seems to be straightforward, being a “teacher” is also falling within the same lines. To be considered a teacher, one must provide direct classroom teaching in a non-classroom setting. Special education teachers are considered teachers as well.
The academic school that the educator teaches at also comes into play when qualifying for loan forgiveness. Teachers must be teaching in a low-income school (Title 1) to qualify for the forgiveness. To see if their school falls under that category, it can be found under the Teacher Cancellation Low Income Directory (TCLI Directory).
Teaching after the academic year of 1997/1998 is also a qualification that must be passed when applying for and receiving cancelation of the amount of debt corresponding to the educator. This only counts for one year, so the other four years of teaching can be before the academic year of 1997/1998. While a teacher must have taught for five consecutive years, missing one year can still be considered if the educator completed one-half of the academic year or your employer considers that you have fulfilled your contract requirements for the academic year.
If a teacher was unable to complete a whole academic year because they went back to post-secondary education in an area of study directly related to the performance of teaching service, has a condition covered under FMLA, or was called to serve for more than 30 days in the United States Armed Forces, then it will count towards their five consecutive years.
The benefit of Teacher Loan Forgiveness is that it gives back to the ones that help shape the future. It pushes more educators to teach in the realm of STEM education and pushes more people to become teachers when knowing they can be reimbursed for their past scholarly work. Pushing more people to become teachers would help the current teacher shortage currently occurring. If an educator also qualifies for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PLSF) program, then the forgiveness given towards that can be combined with Teacher Loan Forgiveness as well. Educators can submit the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application to their student loan lender(s) once completing the required qualifications.