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Are You Eligible for Teacher Loan Forgiveness?

There’s no question that teaching is one of the most essential careers in our society. As an educator, you worked hard in the classroom to obtain your degree, and now you’re working hard teaching kids in your own classroom. Unfortunately, paying off student loans may seem impossible on a teacher’s salary, and paying those debts may make it harder to keep up with your other financial obligations. Fortunately, there are teacher loan forgiveness programs as well as other options that can help you move forward.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness program is a federal program for teachers in low-income schools that erases up to $17,500 in federal direct student loans or Stafford loans. The qualifications to receive the forgiveness grant include:

  • Five years of consecutive, full-time employment as a “highly qualified” teacher, meaning you must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and full state certification;
  • Work at an elementary or secondary school that serves low-income students;
  • Be in good standing (ie: not in default) with your loans.

The full $17,500 forgiveness is only available to highly qualified educators who teach math or science at a secondary level or special education teachers. Other teachers who fulfill the other requirements can have up to $5,000 in loans forgiven.

To apply, submit the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application to your loan servicer and follow the additional steps.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is available to teachers and other public service workers, such as those working in nonprofits or government positions, like social workers, hospital nurses, or accountants for city or state government. To qualify, you must:

  • Make 120 monthly qualifying student loan payments (at least 10 years).
  • Work full-time at a federal, state, local, or tribal institution or a nonprofit organization;
  • Make 120 qualifying payments (10 years’ worth) toward your loans;
  • Have federal student loans in income-driven repayment.

If these qualifications are met, the government will then forgive the remaining balance on your loans. If you have been making payments using a different payment plan, it’s still important to look into forgiveness, as the Department of Education has allowed borrowers to count payments as long as they have been employed by an eligible employer.

Before applying for this program, you can check if you are eligible using the PSLF Help Tool and employment certification. This will make sure you’re on the right track to having your loans forgiven.

Receiving Both Forgiveness Programs

Many people ask if they can receive both a Teach Loan Forgiveness and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness. You can, assuming you qualify for both, but the two employment periods must be separate. For example, you can apply and be forgiven loans using the Teacher Loan Forgiveness after five years. In order to get the Public Service Loan Forgiveness, you must make 120 more qualifying payments.

Other Student Loan Assistance Programs

In addition to teacher loan forgiveness, if you are struggling to make payments, you should apply for the following:

  • Income-driven Repayment Plans (IDR) are based on your household income and family size, and payments are generally based between 10 and 20 percent of your discretionary income. After 20 or 25 years (depending on your plan), the remaining balance is forgiven. If you plan on applying for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, you’ll need to get into this plan regardless.
  • Student Loan Forbearance allows you to pause your student loan payments for a temporary period of time. While interest will accrue on these loans, it will allow you to remain in good standing and avoid default.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Bankruptcy Attorney in Florida

If you are struggling with other debt, including credit cards, medical bills, or other loans, as well as student loan payments, bankruptcy may help you to get your finances in order. While you can’t discharge student loans, bankruptcy can help you discharge other debts so you can pay off student loans more quickly. To learn about your options, reach out to us today at [phone] or fill out the form below to get started.

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