Mon - Thu: 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Fri: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Sat. 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Sun: 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Please note: All times Eastern.
Repaying student loans can be challenging for anyone. But, if you teach or work in public service, you may be able to have part of your loan debt forgiven.
To help borrowers in those situations, programs exist that can partially or completely forgive student loans. Don’t let education debt discourage you from your career of choice—that career may qualify you for forgiveness.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program
Teacher Loan Forgiveness encourages entering and continuing in the teaching profession.
In order to qualify for Teacher Loan Forgiveness:
- You must have been teaching full time for 5 consecutive years at an eligible low-income school or eligible location operated by an educational service agency. For a list of eligible schools, check the U.S. Department of Education's Teacher Cancellation Low Income Directory.
- You cannot have an outstanding balance on a Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP) or Direct Loan (DL) program loan as of October 1, 1998, or on the date you obtained a FFELP or DL loan after October 1, 1998.
If you meet the above criteria, you may be eligible for this forgiveness depending on when you began teaching and the type of teaching you do. Any loan you are looking to have forgiven must be made before you complete your 5 years of qualifying teaching service.
Borrowers Who Began Teaching Before October 30, 2004
You may be eligible for forgiveness of up to $5,000 if:
- You are a full-time elementary school teacher and demonstrate knowledge in reading, writing, mathematics, and other areas of the elementary school curriculum.
- You are a full-time secondary school teacher in a subject area relevant to your major.
You may be eligible for forgiveness of up to $17,500 if:
- You are teaching as a highly qualified full-time mathematics or science teacher in a qualifying secondary school or as a highly qualified special education teacher.
Borrowers Who Began Teaching After October 30, 2004
You may be eligible for forgiveness of either:
- Up to $5,000 for teaching as a highly qualified, full-time teacher in an eligible elementary or secondary school.
- Up to $17,500 for teaching as a highly qualified special education teacher or a highly qualified full-time mathematics or science teacher in an eligible secondary school.
Note that you can combine your full-time service at qualifying elementary and secondary schools to meet the 5-year requirement period.
If you think you qualify, fill out a Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application (pdf, 0.08 MB), then contact your servicer.
Borrowers With Perkins Loans
If you have Perkins loans and meet the state requirements, you may qualify for the following:
- Up to 100% of your Perkins loans can be forgiven.
- 15% per year for the first 2 years.
- 20% for years 3 and 4.
- 30% for year 5.
- The forgiveness covers all accrued interest for all 5 years.
You may also qualify for a deferment during this 5-year time period. To find out if you meet the requirements for Teacher Loan Forgiveness, contact the school that holds your loan.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Public Service Loan Forgiveness encourages public service careers by forgiving the balance of borrowers’ loans after they make 120 qualifying payments.
Qualifications for this program include the following:
- You must be employed full time in an eligible public service job.
- Forgiveness will only be granted while you are still employed full time in an eligible public service job.
- You must make 120 eligible monthly payments on or after October 1, 2007, while employed full time in an eligible job.
- Your payments must be made under either standard repayment, income-contingent repayment (ICR), or income-based repayment (IBR).
Keep in mind, the standard repayment schedule works by splitting your loan amount into 120 equal payments (or 12 payments per year for 10 years). So, after making 120 payments, you may not have a balance left to be forgiven unless you are making reduced payments under ICR or IBR. Also, if you qualify for forgiveness, your balance that is forgiven may be taxed.
Only non-defaulted loans made under DL are eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. DL loans include the following:
- Direct Stafford loans
- Direct Unsubsidized Stafford loans
- Direct PLUS loans
- Direct Consolidation loans
Payments you have made under FFELP are not eligible. If you have FFELP loans, you can gain eligibility by consolidating your loans into DL.
Perkins Loan Forgiveness
In addition to the Teacher Loan Forgiveness benefits listed above, Perkins loan borrowers may be able to have a portion or their entire loan balance forgiven if they work in one of these categories:
- Teacher, Speech Pathologist, or Librarian at a Title I-Eligible School
- Nurse or Medical Technician
- Child or Family Services
- Early Intervention
- Head Start
- Law Enforcement or Correction Officer
- Military Service (active duty)
- Public Service (Such as Public Defender)
- Pre-Kindergarten or Childcare
- Volunteer Service
Cancellations are incremental forms of forgiveness. In other words, a portion of your debt will be forgiven each year that you are eligible. Forgiveness cancels interest as well as the balance of the loan.
In order to qualify for cancellation, you must apply as soon as you are eligible. If you were eligible in the past but did not apply, that portion of your debt cannot be canceled. To apply, contact your school.