Student loan debts are a massive problem in almost every industry. But teachers, in particular, are facing the heat more than others. Part of it is because if you want to take teaching as a professional career, you will need a Bachelor’s degree, and in some cases, a Master’s degree. However, the other reason is that the teacher salary is significantly small. But the teacher loan forgiveness may be the way out.
From the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report, special education teachers, including primary, secondary, and preschool teachers, earned median yearly salaries of $56,790 in 2018. High school teachers, on the other hand, earned $60,320. The elementary teachers that have the lowest earnings brought in only $37,340. The least earners among high school teachers made just $39,740.
It is not a surprise why most teachers are in dire need of help to clear off their student loan debts. For teachers, there are four significant ways you can acquire teacher loan forgiveness. There is also another option to get the loan discharge, but that relies on your repayment plan.
Some Loan Forgiveness For Teachers May Not Work For Others
Just because a forgiveness plan has a “teacher” embedded in it does not mean it is the best choice for you. Finding the best teacher loan forgiveness depends on several factors, including the amount of student loan you currently owe.
But you don’t have to worry. We will assist you. Here is how we will help you. We will break the four fundamental ways to get the teacher loan forgiveness, what other alternatives there are, and how you can get professional assistance.
However, if you are in urgent need of help, call us right now on this line 800-820-8128 for a free assessment, and we will gladly assist you.
Let’s get into it.
Option 1: Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is one of the most popular ways to qualify for student loan forgiveness. With this program, the federal government will forgive all your loan debts only if you work full-time for a non-profit organization or a qualified government in a selected public service area.
Not only that, but you also have to pay back your student loans on an IDR plan. Your loan forgiveness will finally be complete after 120 qualifying payments on your student loans. Since you are a teacher, it is easy for you to be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness because your job is already a public service.
So, for example, you can choose not to work in a public or low-income school. According to the U.S. Department of Education, if you are a full-time teacher, you have to qualify for the employment requirements stipulated in the PSLF.
There are three main PSLF requirements you need to take notice:
- Ensure that your employment is certified for 120 qualifying payments. If you want the employment certification form, visit the official Federal Student Aid website.
- You will need a Direct Loan. Any other type of loans will not work.
- Qualifying repayment plan. PSLF’s qualifying repayment plans include IBR, PAYE, ICR, RePAYE, standard 10-year plan, and making specific payments under the graduated program.
When Does Public Service Loan Forgiveness Seems Appropriate?
Usually, Public Service Loan Forgiveness is highly advisable when you have a massive debt. Even though you have to pay back your loan on an IDR plan, you will possibly save money when your loans are completely forgiven. It is much better compared to other options, such as teacher loan forgiveness.
Also, under the PSLF, your monthly payments do not have to be consecutive when working with a qualified public service employer. If you change from a qualified employer to an unqualified employer, you won’t lose your previous payments. You can still add on to it if you switch back to an eligible employer.
Option 2: Teacher Loan Forgiveness
Teacher loan forgiveness began before PSLF started. It gives teachers enrolled in qualifying schools to acquire up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness. But the loan forgiveness takes full effect after five consecutive and total academic years.
Also, you must work at a secondary school, elementary school, or educational service organization that caters to low-income students. And you should have taken the loan before the five years of your teaching services come to an end.
That should be all, but there is another caveat you should take notice of. Even though the maximum amount of loan you can be forgiven is $17,500, the amount varies depending on several factors. For example, if you want the full amount (that is $17,500), you should work as a full-time science teacher or mathematics teacher at a secondary school.
You can also have the maximum amount if you become a special education teacher. With that, your primary responsibility will be to provide special education to children that have disabilities in your area of special education training. Finally, you need to show that you have exceptional teaching skills and knowledge in the curriculum in which you teach.
If you do not meet these two criteria, you may receive loan forgiveness of up to $5,000. That is if you are a full-time secondary or elementary school teacher.
When Does Teacher Loan Forgiveness Seems Appropriate?
The student loan forgiveness for teachers seems relevant when your student loan debt is not substantial. When you have a low student loan, you can make a considerable effort in getting rid of your loans if you pay for five years. Even then, the $5,000, though small, can be significantly beneficial. Besides, you do not have to wait until you finish making your 120 qualifying payments.
It’s also relevant to note that you can only qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness if you have Direct Loans. Due to that, if you have FFEL loans, you may take the other options, which is the loan forgiveness for teachers, instead of the PSLF. However, you can consolidate your student loans into Direct Loans so that you can acquire an IDR plan before you proceed with PSLF.
Other Key Information To Note
Side note: You can combine both Teacher Loan Forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. But you cannot do that at the same time. For example, you will have to work for five academic years for you to acquire the loan forgiveness for teachers. After ten years, you can apply for the PSLF.
However, it may not be a wise decision because PSLF can forgive your entire debt after ten years. So, if your student loans are enormous and want it completely gone, then we recommend taking the PSLF.
An excellent example of where it will not be a wise decision or make any sense is when you do not intend on working for the next ten years. If you work for five years and do not want to teach anymore, loan forgiveness for teachers is the best choice.
A good scenario of where it can make sense is if you have FFEL loans and have not consolidated your student loans. Since you cannot be eligible for PSLF with FFEL loans, you can opt for the loan forgiveness for teachers first, and later consolidate your student loans and apply for PSLF.
Option 3: Perkins Loan Cancellation For Teachers
Perkins Loan Cancellation is a program that provides complete Teacher Loan Forgiveness for people who:
- Committed a service in a full-time educational role for a minimum of one year.
- Served one year at a school whose sole responsibility is to provide education for low-income families. The individual can also be a special education teacher or work in an area that lacks qualified teachers in specific areas such as science, math, etc.
The disadvantage to the Perkins Loan Cancellation is that it is accessible to only the teachers that have Perkins Loans. And compared to the teacher population in the United States, they are only a small group.
But if you are eligible for the program, you can acquire quite valuable benefits, especially if you are able to go through a school for five years or more of your qualifying service. That’s because your forgiven loan increases with time. For example:
- There is 15% forgiveness on your student loan after one or two years.
- You get a 20% loan forgiveness on your loan after three or four years.
- There is a 30% cancellation on your student loan after five years.
Is The Perkins Loan Forgiveness For Teachers Helpful?
The massive advantage with Perkins Loan Forgiveness is that you automatically qualify for deferments when you teach in a qualified position. Deferment behaves like pushing the pause button on your student loan. And as far as the deferment period is active, you will not make monthly payments on your debt. So you can use the money to cover other expenses such as rent, bills, etc.
The Perkins Loan Cancellation can be highly helpful, particularly since most students graduate with little to no money. The Perkins Loans can help you begin your savings and set some emergency money aside before you start making monthly payments.
What makes the Perkins Loans challenging is that your school administers the loans when you receive it. If you want to arrange your loan deferments, you have to settle it with the institution that processed your Perkins Loans.
Option 4: State Loan Repayment Programs
All the 45 states in the United States, including the District of Columbia, provide State Loan Repayment Programs (SLRP). The federal government designed the programs to staff teachers in the states who are in places or programs that have shortages.
Take note that even though you can be eligible for two or more programs, you cannot overlap them. For instance, if you qualify for the Public Service Loan Repayment, you cannot be eligible for the SLRP at the same time. You have to do them in succession. That is why you need to understand your financial situation and the State Loan Repayment Program’s worth before you make a decision.
Other Ways To Get Teacher Loan Forgiveness
Apart from the above-mentioned forgiveness programs, there are federal student loan forgiveness options that are secret, and most teachers are not aware of it. If the forgiveness programs do not go through, there are secondary ways you can try out.
The hidden secret is that all the IBR programs, that is the IBR, RePAYE, PAYE, and ICR, are all part of the student loan forgiveness. But it is on the outstanding balance after the duration of the repayment which is usually 20 or 25 years.
These programs are an automatic part of the repayment plan, which means you do not have to sign up. However, you do need to maintain your repayment plan eligibility. So if you are not eligible for any of the student loan forgiveness programs, you still have a chance. You can get loan forgiveness, but it may take a long time.
How To Decide Which Forgiveness Program Is The Best Option
If you are having problems deciding on which student loan forgiveness program is the right option, know that you can get some loan forgiveness through all the programs. As emphasized earlier, you can qualify for two or more programs, but not at the same time. That means you start with one, and begin the next one later.
Otherwise, you will have to determine how much you will pay in ten years on an IDR plan, assuming it is PSLF. Then find out how much will be forgiven on your outstanding loan balance. You can then compare the amount you will be forgiven on Teacher Loan Forgiveness, for example.
Aside from that, you have to ensure that you stay working at the specified job until you complete your term. It all comes down to the amount you owe and what each of the forgiveness programs can do. It is advisable to get professional assistance to help you make an informed decision.
Challenges Involved In Getting Loan Forgiveness And How To Curb Them
Loan forgiveness for teachers can be a complicated process. If you want to obtain forgiveness in any of the loan discharge programs successfully, you need to plan and prevent certain mistakes strategically. The table below shows some of the potential problems you can encounter in the process of getting loan forgiveness and ways to avoid them.
Not having a clear understanding of the particular type of loan you have, together with its fine print
You have to take your time, read, and understand the agreement. Know what happens if you are unable to make timely monthly payments or if you go into default
When you will not be able to make an upcoming monthly payment
Make sure to get in touch with your loan servicer before you miss any payments. From the discussion, you will know if there can be proper arrangements done. Find out if there is an option for deferment or forbearance for you
When you miss a regular monthly payment
Contact your loan servicer as soon as possible to discuss the issue and any solutions available. Avoid missing any other payments
When you are in financial difficulty and cannot make upcoming regular payments
Contact your loan servicer and discuss the issue. They will help you explore various options such as deferment or forbearance.
When it is not possible to make consistent payments because of becoming temporarily or permanently disabled
It may be possible to qualify for a loan discharge program in such cases.
Get in touch with your loan servicer to come up with a repayment solution. It may not be possible to get loan forgiveness if there is a default on your loan.
What To Do Next
It is essential to know that you can do everything yourself for free when it comes to your student loans. The Federal Student Aid website has numerous online applications and great resources through which you can apply. But some individuals prefer professional experts to assist them with their Teacher Loan Forgiveness.
As explained above, there are many ways to help you get out of student debt. If you are a teacher, you should take advantage of one or more of the programs.
If you need help, do not hesitate to reach out to us! There are various ways to get assistance with your Teacher Loan Forgiveness. We are well-equipped to help you gain your financial freedom again. Call us right now at 800-820-8128, and we promise to help you each step of the way. We are waiting!