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Teachers – Everything You Need To Know About Loan Forgiveness

TeacherStudent loans make it possible for educators to obtain the degrees and certifications that are essential for their career. After graduation from a degree program, repayment of these loans is the first step a person will need to make on the path to greater financial security. Fortunately, this step has been made easier by government programs that are designed to encourage more people to enter the teaching profession by helping to alleviate some of the burden that may be incurred by student loans. Here is an overview of how the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program works along with how a person can get started on determining their eligibility for having their loan balances forgiven.

General Requirements
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is open to any teacher who has provided direct classroom instruction full-time to students in schools that are designated as serving low-income families for at least five consecutive years (sometimes called “Title I-eligible schools”). Those interested in the program must have no outstanding balances on their account from October 1, 1998 and up to the day the loan was obtained. Anyone who is currently in default on their loan must have a satisfactory arrangement for repayment in place before they will be considered for the loan forgiveness program. It is also important to note that at least one of the five years of required teaching must have been completed after the 1997-98 academic year.

Loan Amounts Forgiven
The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program offers up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness; however, the amount that a person may have forgiven will depend upon several factors. The amount forgiven will vary according to the years of a teacher’s service along with their level of qualifications. Those who completed their years of service before October 30, 2004 may be eligible for up to $5,000 of loan forgiveness provided that they served full-time as a general education instructor in an elementary school or taught a secondary-level course in the field of their major. If a teacher is designated as highly-qualified in their classroom field, then the amount may be increased to as much as $17,500. For those who taught after 2004, the potential amount forgiven for a highly-qualified elementary teacher is $5,000. Special education and highly-qualified secondary teachers can be eligible for as much as $17,500.

How to Determine Eligibility
In addition to obtaining certification regarding one’s credentials as a highly-qualified instructor with over five years of full-time teaching service, a person will need to make sure the school in which they taught is designated as low-income for the purposes of the program. The school in which a person served must be qualified for Title I funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and must have been selected by the U.S. Department of Education based upon the decision that 30 percent or more of the students enrolled qualify for services provided by Title I. These schools are all listed in the Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits.

Application Process
The first step toward having one’s loans forgiven is to fill out the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application. Before filling out the application, one will need to compile a list of each school in which they taught along with any certifications or degrees that can support their designation as a highly-qualified teacher. On the application, the chief administrative officer for each school in which a person taught will need to complete a section that verifies a teacher’s years of service. After the form has been completed, it will need to be submitted to the loan holder or servicer responsible for a person’s student loans. Those who have obtained loans from multiple providers will need to file a separate application with each one.

Follow-Up Procedure
After the application has been submitted, teachers will be contacted regarding the status of their application. In some instances, it may be necessary to provide additional documentation regarding one’s years of teaching service. For example, those who were unable to complete a full year of service may be able to have it counted if they send proof that they were on active duty or covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act during the time of their absence. Promptly following-up on any additional requests for documentation will help to reduce the processing time of a person’s application and offers the best chances for receiving the full loan forgiveness amount. Once the application has been processed, a statement will be sent to the teacher that provides the amount that will be forgiven along with a brief explanation for how the amount was determined.

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is beneficial for educators who need a solution for managing their student loans and is effective for encouraging highly-qualified teachers to enter and continue to work in their chosen profession. By understanding how the forgiveness program works, educators can take advantage of loan forgiveness so they can better manage their finances while still enjoying the benefits of higher educational opportunities that can enhance their effectiveness for providing quality education to every student in their classroom.

About the Author:

Today’s guest article comes from Julie Moreno. She knows how important it is for teachers to find the resources they need. In addition to Loan Forgiveness programs, aspiring teachers can check out TeacherInformation.org for more information on teaching salaries, career paths, and Master’s degrees in Education. 

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