The Teacher Loan Forgiveness program is considered one of the most highly beneficial programs. Educators are eligible for principal reduction and early forgiveness after only ten years.
Eligible borrowers working as teachers can qualify for principal reduction of $5,000 to $17,500 on their loans, along with full forgiveness after a decade’s term.  The balance that remains at the end of the full ten years will be erased and forgiven. The ten-year forgiveness is also a popular aspect of the public service loan forgiveness program, but in most cases, educators are lucky enough to qualify for both programs!
Eligibility Requirements

  • Your federal loans, either Direct Loans or Federal Family Education Loans, must have originated after October 1st, 1998. Loans from before this date do no qualify, unfortunately making many borrowers ineligible.
  • Subsidized or unsubsidized loans, and loans in default, do not count either. Those borrowers whose loans have defaulted are not eligible for forgiveness of that loan, except in cases where the borrower has made satisfactory repayment arrangements with the holder of the defaulted loan.  We aim to provide consolidation services to we can help you get out of default and thus guarantee that you qualify for forgiveness, and get the debt relief you deserve.
  • If you are an educator seeking forgiveness or principal reduction for a loan, that loan must have been made prior to finishing your five years as a teacher. Any time you spent teaching to receive benefits through AmeriCorps also does not count toward your required five years of teaching for Teacher Loan Forgiveness.
  • You must have completed five full academic years as a full-time teacher, and at least one of those years must have been after the 1997-1998 academic year.
  • You must have been employed in an elementary or secondary school that is a title 1 school that qualifies for funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. It must be determined that the school where you were employed is made up of a total population of children qualifying for title 1 services. This means that it is listed in the Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits.
  • If you teach at an elementary or secondary school operated by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), or operated on Indian reservations by Indian tribal groups under contract with BIE, you are also eligible for the purposes of this loan forgiveness program, since these schools qualify as schools serving low-income students. These schools are, however, not listed in the Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits.
  • Additionally, if you were teaching at an eligible education service agency after the 2007-2008 academic year, this period of time can also be applied to your total of five years of teaching.
  • If the school that employs you is eligible under the above conditions for one year, but not for all, they may still count towards your five consecutive years of teaching, or they may not.

How Does the Obama Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program Define “Teacher”?
A teacher is defined as any person who provides direct classroom teaching, or classroom-type teaching in a different type of setting that is not technically a classroom. For instance, Special Education teachers are considered teachers.
How Long Do I Need to Teach For?
You must have been a teacher for five full and consecutive academic years after the 1997-1998 academic year to be eligible.
Service Completed Before October 30th, 2004
If your five consecutive academic years of teaching began before October 30th, 2004, you may receive up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness. You are likely to be eligible if you meet the following requirements:

  • You were a full-time elementary school teacher in mathematics, reading, or writing, or another area of the curriculum.
  • You were a full-time secondary school teacher, teaching a subject related to your academic major.

On the other hand, teachers who meet these requirements may be eligible to receive up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness:

  • You were a highly qualified, full-time mathematics or science teacher in an eligible secondary school.
  • You were a highly qualified special education teacher whose primary responsibility was to provide special education to children with disabilities, and you taught children with disabilities that corresponded to your area of special education training. In addition, you must have had demonstrable knowledge in the content areas of the curriculum that you taught.

Service Beginning On or After October 30th, 2004
Unfortunately, not all teachers qualify based on the above requirements. The good news is that if your 5 consecutive years of teaching began after October 30th, 2004, you may still be eligible to receive up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness. You qualify if you were a highly qualified full-time elementary or secondary school teacher.
You could potentially receive up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness if, as certified by the chief administrative officer of the school where you were employed, you meet the following requirements:

  • You were a highly qualified, full-time mathematics or science teacher in an eligible secondary school.
  • You were a highly qualified special education teacher whose primary responsibility was to provide special education to children with disabilities, and you taught children with disabilities that corresponded to your area of special education training and have demonstrable knowledge in the content areas of the curriculum that you taught.

If You Were Unable to Complete an Academic Year…
Not every teacher’s situation is straightforward. Fortunately, if you were unable to complete a certain academic year, that year may still count to your Teacher Loan Forgiveness five consecutive years, given that the following other requirements are met:

  • Half of the academic year was completed.
  • Your employer considers you to have completed your contract requirements for the purposes of salary increase, tenure, and retirement.
  • Your reason for not completing the academic year is because you returned to college, on at least half time credits, in an area that is directly related to your teaching position and or to better your performance in said position; or because you had a condition covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA); or because you were called into active duty in the Armed Forces for more than 30 days.

Do I Qualify as a “Highly Qualified” Teacher Under the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program?
To be considered a highly qualified teacher, a public elementary or secondary school teacher must have obtained full state certification as a teacher or passed your state teaching license examination, and hold a license to teach in that state. If you have not had certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary, or provisional basis, you are defined as highly qualified.
In addition, if you are an elementary school teacher who is new to the profession, you may qualify if you meet the following requirements:

  • You have at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • You have proven that you have adequate teaching skills by passing any state tests, or having subject knowledge of reading, writing, mathematics, and other basic areas of elementary education.

Similarly, any middle or secondary school teacher who is new to the profession is considered highly qualified if the following requirements are met:

  • You have at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • You have demonstrated a high level of competence in each of the academic subjects that you teach, you have shown to have adequate teaching skills by passing any relevant state tests, or you proven to have demonstrable knowledge of reading, writing, mathematics, and other basic areas of elementary education.

An elementary, middle, or secondary school teacher who is not new to the profession, on the other hand, is considered highly qualified if you meet these requirements:

  • You have at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • You meet the applicable standards of an elementary, middle, or secondary school teacher who is new to the profession.
  • You demonstrate competence in all the academic subjects you teach, based on a high objective uniform state standard of evaluation that is set by your state for both grade-appropriate academic subject matter knowledge and teaching skills.
  • You are aligned with challenging state academic content and student academic achievement standards and developed in consultation with core content specialists, teachers, principals, and school administrators.
  • You provide objective, coherent information about your attainment of core content knowledge in the academic subjects you teach.
  • This standard has been applied uniformly to all teachers in the same academic subject and the same grade level throughout the state.

They will also take into account how long you have been teaching the subject, and request documents available to the public that detail your competency. This process may involve several different, entirely objective measures of your skill and competency.
Is My School a Low-Income School?
Each year, the U.S. Department of Education publishes a list of elementary and secondary schools that are defined as low-income. If you have questions regarding the inclusion or exclusion of a particular school, you can direct them to the state board in your particular state.
If You Teach at an Educational Service Agency…
Good news! Even if you work at a educational service agency rather than a low-income school, your teaching service may still qualify. If the consecutive five-year period includes qualifying service at an eligible education service agency performed after the 2007–2008 academic year, you are likely to be eligible.
How Can I Apply?
Give us a call at 844-226-4269 if you believe you may be eligible for the Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness program. We will assist you through the process and give you guidance.