October 5, 2021

How Does Student Loan Forgiveness Work for Teachers?


Teachers with student loans have four options for student loan forgiveness. These various programs may depend on where you work and the types of student loans that you have.

Generally, you may apply for student loan forgiveness if you work in approved educational institutions and have federal student loans. Here is a closer look into your forgiveness program options as a teacher with student loans.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

You may be eligible for student loan forgiveness between $5,000 and $17,500 of student loan forgiveness under the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. This program forgives:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans
  • Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans

You may be eligible for this program if you were a full-time teacher for five complete and consecutive academic years. In addition, you must have served your educator duties in a low-income school or educational service agency.

You can only apply for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program once you have completed the five-year teaching requirement in an approved institution. Note that any time you spent teaching for AmeriCorps benefits does not count toward the five-year requirement.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

The PSLF Program has broad employment qualification requirements that include most public sector workers. However, you do not need to be a public-school teacher in a low-income area to apply for this student loan forgiveness program.

This program only forgives Direct Loans. You may consolidate your FFEL and Perkins Loans into a new single policy and turn them into a Direct Consolidation Loan.

You must make at least 120 qualifying payments on these loans to qualify for student loan forgiveness through this program. Your payments may not be consecutive, but the program only accepts payments made after October 2007. Your student loan payments must be through an income-driven repayment plan.

Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation for Teachers

You may qualify for up to 100% cancellation on your federal Perkins student loans through Perkins Loan Cancellation if you are a full-time teacher at a low-income school. You may confirm whether your school classifies as low-income through the U.S. Department of Education’s online database.

You may also qualify for this student loan forgiveness program if you teach a specific subject. Some state education agencies will determine what subjects qualify based on shortages of qualified teachers for a particular subject.

This program cancels student loans over five years incrementally. Only teachers with existing Perkins loans may seek this forgiveness option because no new Perkins loans are available.

State-Sponsored Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

A lot of states offer student loan forgiveness for teachers working full-time in high-need areas. Confirm whether your state offers local forgiveness programs by checking the searchable database from the American Federation of Teachers.

Conclusion: How Does Student Loan Forgiveness Work for Teachers?

Student loan forgiveness for teachers works by assessing where you teach and what student loans you carry. In general, you may qualify for student loan forgiveness if you teach at approved educational facilities. Approved facilities tend to involve underserved areas.

In addition, the federal government offers most of the student loan forgiveness programs available to teachers. You can only apply for student loan forgiveness if you have federal student loans. Be sure to review the loans you carry as a teacher to determine whether you qualify for any student loan forgiveness program.

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