Do you have college debt? Is it Stafford, Direct or FFEL? Are you a teacher? If you answer yes to the following questions, then you could qualify for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.
As a teacher, you work in one of the more difficult occupations one can have and for a much lower salary too. The federal government recognizes this fact and is here to help you out for your invaluable service to our nation’s youth. In fact, when you apply the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program to your job, you could be earning an extra $1000 – $3,500 per year. It’s a great way for the federal government to reward you for your service and for you to make an income, at least for a while, that is more on par with other occupations.
What is it?
The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program can forgive up to $17,500 of your debt when you work at a Title I school and are certified in a subject that is considered an “area of need.” Listed below are the qualifying criteria for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.
- You must be a certified teacher
- You must teach full time in a Title I School
- To qualify for the maximum amount of forgiveness, you must teach a subject that is an “area of need”
- You must teach for five consecutive years
- You must fill out the appropriate paperwork with the required signatures
If these criteria apply to you, then you can qualify for up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness. Considering that the national average for student loan debt in 2011 was around $25,000, this is a big chunk of your debt that can be wiped out, and you can pay off your remaining debt even faster or lower your monthly payments.
Before going on, there are still a few more requirements that you must meet in order to qualify for this type of loan forgiveness. They include the following:
- You cannot have an outstanding FFEL or Direct Loan Balance before October 1, 1998.
- You must have taken out your first loan after October 1, 1998.
- You must not be in default on any federal loans.
- The loans must be taken out prior to the completion of your five years of service.
How To Qualify
Highly Qualified, Certified Teacher
You must hold a valid teaching certificate in the State where you are employed. You must also hold a Bachelors degree from an accredited college or university. Different states have different criteria for “highly qualified,” in many cases the final word is up to district authorities concerning certifications and placement.
Teaching at a Title I School
A Title I school is a school where the majority of the students are low SES (socio economic status) and qualify for free and reduced lunch. A complete list of Title I schools is located on the following website:
Many Title I schools are inner city schools in property poor districts, where teacher shortages are high. Many students in these districts meet the criteria for free and reduced lunches or their families are below or close to the poverty level. Teacher shortages abound in Title I schools because it is considered a difficult place to work.
Teaching in an Area of Need
Teachers that are certified in Math and Science can qualify for the maximum amount of student loan forgiveness if they teach in these subject areas at Title I schools. The U.S. government realizes the importance of math and science in the classroom and is committed to getting highly qualified and certified teachers in these areas.
Teaching for Five Consecutive Years
As a certified teacher, you must teach full time in a Title I school for five consecutive years before you qualify for loan forgiveness. If you teach for five consecutive years at different Title I schools, this will also satisfy the requirement.
Filling Out the Paperwork
You must fill out the appropriate applications for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program after your five consecutive years are complete. Part of the paperwork will include getting signatures from various supervisors and from the chief certifying officer for your school district confirming your employment for the specified time period at a Title I school. It is your responsibility to stay on top of this paperwork especially if you transfer to another school district. Certified paperwork will need to be filled out from each school district’s chief certifying officer. Copies of the required paperwork can be found on the following government website:
Your school district’s chief certifying officer can give you additional details if you need to know more about how to apply for the teacher loan forgiveness program.
How Much Money Do I Qualify For?
This October date is significant in determining how you qualify for loan forgiveness and how much of your loan will be forgiven. Let’s consider the criteria for both before and after October 30, 2004.
|Before October 30, 2004||After October 30, 2004||$|
|Elementary teachers demonstrating knowledge and teaching skills in any number of areas of the curriculum or Secondary teachers teaching in a subject related to their degree.||Highly qualified full time elementary or secondary school teacher.||$5,000|
|Highly qualified Math or Science teacher at the secondary level or Highly qualified special education teacher teaching students with disabilities in the area of their training.||Highly qualified full time secondary teacher in the areas of Math and Science at an eligible school or Highly qualified special education teacher teaching students with disabilities in the area of your training.||$17,500|
As you can see, regardless of the date, to be eligible for the maximum amount of $17,500 in loan forgiveness, you must be a highly qualified secondary school teacher teaching in the areas of Math of Science. Other teachers are eligible, but for only $5,000 in loan forgiveness.