Forgiveness Program

Teacher Loan Forgiveness

Becoming a teacher can be one of the most rewarding professions in the US, however the financial burdens placed on new teachers can be quite brutal if they took out student loans to cover their tuition. In addition, while the job satisfaction rating for teachers is very high, they often do not make the type of money in salary many other professions do especially in their early years.

However, there are teacher’s loan forgiveness programs you can take advantage of to help relieve your debt burden and add to your experience level, which can be beneficial in getting you the teaching job you desire. Essentially, there are two types of loan reduction programs, the type that forgive part or the entire debt that is owed and cancellation of your loan in total.

Debt Cancellation: Cancellation means that the balance you owe on your loan is removed and the loan itself no longer exists. However, this type of teacher cancellation program is only for students who used the Federal Perkins Loan. You can have the Perkins loan cancelled if you fulfill one of the following requirements.

Take a full time teaching position at a qualified low-income school. -Teach in one of the recommended subject areas. -It is also possible to have your loan deferred as well, depending on the circumstances. If you did use a Federal Perkins Loan, then you should check with the school you attended for more information as to how to have the loan cancelled or deferred. Teaching at a low-income school usually requires a set period of time before your loan is cancelled.

If you are a teacher, and also a new borrower (i.e., you did not have an outstanding balance on a Direct Loan or FFEL Program loan on Oct. 1, 1998, or on the date you obtained a Direct Loan or FFEL Program loan after Oct. 1, 1998), and you have been teaching full-time in a low-income elementary or secondary school or educational service agency for five consecutive years, you may be able to have as much as $17,500 of your subsidized or unsubsidized loans forgiven. Your PLUS loans cannot be included. For more information, go to Teacher Loan Forgiveness. If you have a Federal Perkins Loan, see Perkins Loan Cancellation for teacher cancellation in that loan program.


The following are general eligibility requirements for all borrowers seeking teacher loan forgiveness:
  • You must not have had an outstanding balance on a Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) or Federal Direct Loan Program (FDLP) loan as of October 1, 1998, or on the date you obtained a FFELP or FDLP loan after October 1, 1998.
  • You must have been employed as a full-time teacher for five complete, consecutive academic years at a qualifying location (effective for teacher loan forgiveness applications received on or after August 14, 2008) or a low-income eligible school. An eligible school is considered "low-income" according to certain criteria for funding under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and is listed in the Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits. At least 30 percent of an eligible school's enrolled students must qualify for services provided under Title I.
  • If the school where you performed your teaching service meets the criteria of an eligible school for any year of your qualifying teaching service, that year and all subsequent years of service at that school continue to qualify you for forgiveness — even if the school is no longer eligible. However, if the school where you performed your teaching service meets the eligibility criteria of an eligible school after you have started your service, you will not gain any retroactive qualifying teaching service for previous years of employment at that school.
  • You must have performed at least one of your five years of qualifying service after the 1997-1998 academic year.
  • The loan for which you are seeking forgiveness must have been made before the end of the fifth year of your qualifying teaching service.
  • If you are seeking loan forgiveness for a defaulted loan, you must make satisfactory repayment arrangements to re-establish your federal student aid eligibility.
  • You may not receive both teacher loan forgiveness and an AmeriCorps benefit for the same teaching service.
  • You may not receive more than a total of $5,000 ($17,500 for certain highly qualified secondary math and science teachers, and elementary and secondary special education teachers) in loan forgiveness for outstanding principal and accrued interest under both the FFELP and the FDLP.

If your qualifying teaching service began before October 30, 2004, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • If you performed your teaching service at an eligible elementary school, you demonstrated knowledge and teaching skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and other areas of the school's curriculum.
  • If you performed your teaching service at an eligible secondary school, you taught in a subject area that is relevant to your academic major.
  • During your qualifying teaching service as a public school teacher* at an eligible elementary or secondary school, you met the definition of "highly qualified" as provided in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
If your qualifying teaching service began on or after October 30, 2004, and you performed your teaching service as a public school teacher* at an eligible elementary or secondary school, you must have met the definition of "highly qualified" as provided in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

You must meet both of the following criteria for five consecutive, complete academic years of your teaching service:

  • If you performed your qualifying teaching service as a public school teacher* at an eligible elementary or secondary school, you must have met the definition of "highly qualified" as provided in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
  • You must have either:
    • Been employed as a mathematics or science teacher at an eligible secondary school.
    • Been employed as a special education teacher whose primary responsibility was to provide special education to children with disabilities at an eligible elementary or secondary school. In addition, if you are a special education teacher, you must have taught children with disabilities that correspond to your special education training.
You must meet both of the following criteria for five consecutive, complete academic years of your teaching service:

  • If you performed your qualifying teaching service as a public school teacher* at an eligible elementary or secondary school, you must have met the definition of "highly qualified" as provided in the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
  • You must have either:
    • Been employed as a mathematics or science teacher at an eligible secondary school.
    • Been employed as a special education teacher whose primary responsibility was to provide special education to children with disabilities at an eligible elementary or secondary school. In addition, if you are a special education teacher, you must have taught children with disabilities that correspond to your special education training.