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An Introduction to Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program and How to Apply

What is the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program?

Nowadays, a large number of students in The USA take student loans to pay for their academic education. Student loan repayment usually comes in six months after student finishes school.  However, professionals in some particular occupations can expect to have their student loans forgiven, and teaching profession is one of these. Teacher loan forgiveness program (TLFP) is a supportive loan cancellation program introduced by the US Congress. Given that teaching is considered as a very responsible and demanding profession, the intention of this program is to reward those working as school teachers for their important commitment and to encourage them to stay in teaching profession. Teachers with student loan debts now can save significant amount of money with launching this program. To qualify for a US federal loan forgiveness program, applicants have to work on full-time bases as teachers for five consecutive academic years in schools where teacher earnings may not be high. These schools are called “low-income” schools as they have a lot of students from low-income families. A list of selected schools can be found in the Department of Education’s online Teacher Cancellation Low Income Directory. The Department of education publishes this list of designated school boards every year.

The details of teacher loan forgiveness program vary by state and federal government regulations. For example, some states like Georgia have their own programs for teacher loan debts forgiveness which gives the opportunity to more categories of teachers to get their student loan cancellation. In Georgia foreign language teachers can also benefit from this program, since they are eligible for TLFP in this state.

The teacher loan cancellation program only is valid to the exceptional balance at the time the application was accepted. Preceding payments are not to be refunded. The particular loan provider makes a decision on student loan forgiveness plan, and it is not possible to be automatically approved for debt forgiveness. The maximum forgiveness amount is up to $5,000 (increases to $17,500 for teachers who teach special education or math and science in secondary schools).

Teachers Loan Forgiveness Programs

Stafford Loans Program

Stafford Loans Program is a federal program intended to support people entering teaching profession. Consolidated Stafford Loans are made throughout the Direct Loan or Federal Family Education Loan programs. To qualify, teacher must be a new borrower of the Federal family Educational Program or Direct Loan Borrower on or after 1st of October 1998. In addition, teacher must not have received refund from the AmeriCorp Program under Subtitle D of Title 1 of the National community Service Act of 1990 for the loan she is seeking cancellation for.  Furthermore, he or she must not be in failure to pay on the loan.

How to qualify?

To be eligible for the Stafford Loan Forgiveness Program applicant must:

  • Have worked as a teacher for at least five successive academic years in an elementary or secondary public or nonprofit school that was nominated a “low-income” school by the US Department of Education
  • Must be employed on full-time basis
  • Must have his teaching service began on or after October 30, 2004
  • Have no less than one of the teaching years after the 1997/98 academic year
  • Student loan must be made before the end of the fifth year of qualified teaching
  • Those teaching in elementary schools, must provide evidence they have knowledge of teaching skills in elementary curriculum areas
  • Teachers working in secondary schools must certify that they are teaching a subject applicable to their university major
  • Highly-qualified teachers of secondary school key subject areas: math and science or teachers of special education who work with disabled children may qualify for the forgiveness maximum to $17,500

Perkins Loan Cancellation Program

The Perkins Loan cancellation plan has less strict requirements concerning loans that can be canceled than Stafford Loans program, although normally comprise Perkins Loans made on July 1, 1972, or after. Perkins Loan forgiveness program allows teachers to receive forgiveness benefits increasingly. Fifteen percent of teacher’s Perkins Loan credit gets canceled after first two years of teaching service; twenty percent gets canceled after third and fourth year and thirty percent after the fifth and any following years.

How to qualify?

To meet the criteria for the Perkins Loan Cancellation Program applicant must:

  • Have worked as a teacher for at least five following academic years in an elementary or secondary public or nonprofit school that was designated a “low-income” school by the US
  • Department of Education, where at least 30% of students come from the “low-income” families
  • Have taught  in the specific subject area or has been a special education teacher; in that case there is an exemption of the “low-income” rule
  • Have worked in a private, but strictly non-profit school, servicing “low-income” students
  • Must be considered as a full-time professional by the employing school
  • Have taught in the field of science, math, bilingual education and foreign languages or in a subject designated as a teacher deficiency area by the state education agency.

How to apply

  • You can apply for Teacher loans forgiveness program after you have taught for five consecutive years in “low-income” school
  • You can submit the application by filing out online Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application Form (2012). Applications and regulations are available on the Department of Education website under Student Financial Aid.
  • You must get your teaching certification from the school’s administrator (usually principal or vice principal) in order to qualify for teacher loan cancellation
  • After your loan forgiveness application is completed, send it to your loan servicer (if you have a direct loan) or to the Department of Education (if you have a federal loan) for the further processing.
  • If your service provider finds that you are eligible for TLFP, you will be mailed a confirmation for the forgiveness balance.

Applying procedure in five steps

  1. Visit the studentaid.ed.gov and choose “Repayment Information”, than select “Cancellation and Deferment Options for Teachers”. In case you have received application from your lender, go to step 3.
  2. Determine if you meet the eligibility criteria
  3. Print a copy of Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application and complete the necessary information in sections 1 and 2. Sign your name in the field where it asks for the borrower’s signature
  4. Have your Chief Administrative Officer fill out the information in section 3
  5. Mail the application to the address given in section 9. In case the address is missing, contact your loan provider.

Benefits and drawbacks of Teacher Loans Forgiveness Program

The main advantage of teacher loan cancellation is that it saves low-income school working teachers a considerable amount of money, especially for teachers who borrowed a minimum amount of student loan. This is beneficial for “low-income” schools also giving the fact that they usually have difficulty hiring highly qualified teachers. On the other side, one of the main disadvantages of this program is time. Namely, teachers are obligated to complete five uninterrupted year teaching period to qualify, which means that they must extend their endurance in order to meet the criteria. In addition, most of these designated schools are often located in deprived and dangerous parts of the city.

To sum up

Teacher Loans Forgiveness Program is US government project intended to reward teachers who have preferred to work in high-demanding teaching areas. The major purpose of this program is to reward those working as school teachers for their commitment to profession.

To qualify for either Stafford or Perkins Loan cancellation programs, the main requirement for applicants is to have five comprehensive academic qualified teaching years. Stafford Loan cancellation program requires teachers to complete consecutive five years of teaching, while with Perkins Loan forgiveness teachers receive forgiveness benefits increasingly. The limit of possible forgiveness is $5,000, but teaching science and math at secondary school or teaching special education which includes work with children with disabilities increases applicant’s prearranged forgiveness maximum to $17,500.

Only full time teacher can qualify for either, Stafford or Perkins Loan cancellation programs. To qualify for teacher loans forgiveness program, teachers must get certification of their teaching from the school administrator.

Many US states, such as Georgia have their own teacher loans cancellation programs. Such programs regularly work adding together to federal loan forgiveness programs. Moreover, they create opportunity to more teachers to get their student loan cancelled.

Apply for your teacher loan forgiveness today

There are many “low-income” school boards across The USA today who are in need for qualified teachers to provide quality education to their students. If you meet the criteria and you have passion for teaching in one of these schools, apply for the teacher loan forgiveness program and have your student loans forgiven. Once your loan forgiveness is accepted, your student loans are fundamentally erased, together with any interest sustained.

We strongly recommend potential applicants to check their state’s Education Department to get information if the state provides such loan forgiveness program.

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