3 Student Loan Forgiveness Programs That Every Teacher Should Know About

Keelan Muscara

3 Student Loan Forgiveness Programs That Every Teacher Should Know About

Student Loan Forgiveness

Are you drowning in student loan debt?

Wondering how to pay off your debt on a teachers salary?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

In 2019, 69% of college students took out student loans, and the average student loan debt after graduation was $29,900.

Needless to say, the amount of student loan debt in the United States is absurd.

What’s even more absurd is trying to payoff these damn loans as a teacher.

Between the mediocre teacher pay, trying to save up for a house, car insurance, grocery bills, and cell phone payments to name a few, paying these loans down to ZERO simply feels like a fantasy.

Oh, I feel your pain. I had 45k in student loan debt from my undergrad, and currently have 20k left in student loan debt from my masters. It sucks. Big time.

Fortunately for you and I, there are a few different student loan forgiveness options out there that can help us out.

This post focuses on the 3 most notable student loan forgiveness programs available to students throughout the United States: Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF), and Perkins Loan Cancellation.

Determining which loan forgiveness option is best for you will depend on the amount of student loan debt you have, the type of school you work in, and the type of loan(s) that you have.

Let’s jump in.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

Forgives the remaining balance on your Federal Direct Loans after 120 qualifying payments

The key points:

  • Broad Eligibility Requirements
  • Don’t have to teach at a low income school
  • Greatest benefit for those with high loan balances (50k+)
  • 10 years (120 payments) before eligible for forgiveness
  • Must have Direct Loans

For specific qualification requirements and further information click here.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF)

Forgives up to $17,500 of your Direct or FFEL Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loans after 5 complete and consecutive years of teaching at a qualifying school.

They key points:

  • More specific eligibility requirements
  • Must have worked in a qualifying school for 5 complete and consecutive years
  • PLUS loans and Perkins loans are not eligible
  • Amount forgiven is determined by subject area/grade level
  • Can apply after the five year teaching requirement

For specific qualification requirements and further information click here.

Perkins Loan Cancellation

Forgives up to 100% of your Federal Perkins Loan Program if you teach full-time at a low-income school, or if you teach certain subjects.

The key points:

  • Only forgives Federal Perkins Loans
  • Must teach at a low income school or teach certain subjects
  • Full Forgiveness takes 5 years
    • 15% cancelled in years 1 and 2
    • 20% cancelled in years 3 and 4
    • 30% cancelled in year 5

For specific qualification requirements and further information click here.

Not One Size Fits ALL

Student Loan Forgiveness

Student loan forgiveness can be great, but it’s definitely not a one size fits all type of thing.

To further prove this point, let’s look at my girlfriend and I.

I am currently in the process of pursuing Teacher Loan Forgiveness.

My girlfriend on the other hand (also a teacher), is pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Why are we pursuing two different programs? Well, we are in much different situations.

I finished paying off 45k from my undergrad a few years ago and now have 20k in federal student loan debt left from my masters degree. I meet the eligibility requirements for both PSLF and TLF. It doesn’t make sense for me to do PSLF because I would extend my debt repayment to 10 years, and by that point there would be very, very little left to be forgiven.

My girlfriend has 195k in debt from her undergrad, masters, and now doctorate. Yes you read that right. She has nearly 200k in student loan debt. To be clear I do not advise any teacher do what my girlfriend did. 200k in student loan debt for a teaching job that pays 50k starting is not a smart approach (love you babe😉). But when you’re young and have little guidance about the impact of student loans, this is a very real situation to find yourself in.

She, unlike myself, is the PERFECT candidate for PSLF. She meets all the requirements, and has SO much student loan debt that it makes total sense for her to do the 10 year repayment plan. Using a PSLF calculator, I determined that by using an income based repayment plan (IBR), she’ll have over 200k forgiven after 10 years. How amazing is that!!

So to repeat, your teacher loan forgiveness option is specific to you. Make sure you understand your situation and weigh your options before jumping in.

Additional Resources

Still not sure if student loan forgiveness is right for you? Interested in going deeper into some of these programs?

Check out this list of resources to help better inform your decision. I’ve personally explored these resources myself and have found them extremely useful!

Bottom Line

Student loan debt can be a HUGE cause of stress in the lives of millennial teachers.

Trying to get your life started with student loan debt is the equivalent to trying to walk up an escalator that is going down.

Student Loan Debt

You keep trying to get up the steps, but you’re constantly fighting the escalator pulling you down.

Student loan forgiveness can help you to shut off the escalator completely or at least slow it down a bit.

It’s not for everyone, but it’s certain a viable option for many.

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Keelan Muscara

Keelan is a 28 year old music teacher from New York. After paying off 45k in student loan debt in under 2 years, he got passionate about personal finance, leading him to the Financial Independence movement. Keelan writes about practical strategies for teachers to earn more, save more, invest more, and create a path toward financial freedom.
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