If you are a teacher or studying to be a teacher, you might be concerned about paying back your student loans. Even for the most frugal planners, teacher student loan debt is a reality that many students and graduates face today.
The good news is that public and private loan policy makers recognize the importance of the teaching profession, and offer various payback options available to teachers.
Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness
This program forgives up to a total of $17,500 on some federal loans including direct subsidized, unsubsidized, and Stafford Loans. Eligibility requires that you teach full time for five complete and consecutive years in a qualified elementary school, secondary school, or educational service agency. Qualified locations serve low-income families.
Teacher Student Loan Cancellation
If you have a Federal Perkins Loan, the entire loan plus interest may be cancelled in increments over five years. To qualify, you must teach in a low-income school or teach a specific subject. State education agencies determine the subjects depending on whether or not a teacher shortage exists in a subject area. Some subjects automatically qualify such as:
- Foreign languages
- Bilingual education
State & City Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness
There are also a wide number of state and city teacher student loan forgiveness plans. The American Federation of Teachers provides an online search tool to help you locate loan forgiveness and funding opportunities such as grants, exchange programs, and classroom donation programs.
Teacher Private Student Loan Consolidation
If you don’t qualify for any of the programs listed so far, you can still reduce your student loan debt through student loan consolidation. Private loan consolidation, or refinancing, works by paying off an old loan with a new loan that has a lower interest rate (this is different from federal student loan consolidation. For more on federal loan consolidation, go here). Services like Credible make this process even more effective, since they get quotes from various lenders. You then choose the most favorable rate and terms to suit your needs.
Other Sources Of Financial Aid For Teachers
There’s a wide variety of financial aid options for students studying to be teachers or graduates with teaching degrees. Some examples are:
- Teach For America – Enrollment makes you eligible for education awards, loan forbearance, and loan interest payment.
- TEACH Grant – Provides up to $4,000 per year to students who are studying teaching and commit to teach in a high-need field or at an institution that serves low income families.
- Troops to Teachers – Offers up to $10,000 in financial assistance, as well as other services, to assist eligible military personnel to begin careers as teachers in public schools.
- Income Based Repayment Plans – If your loan debt is high compared to your annual income, you can apply for one of these plans that adjusts your monthly payments according to your income level.
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness – The remaining balance of your loan can be forgiven if you commit to work in public service. Loan forgiveness occurs after making 120 qualified payments.
Teaching is a noble profession. Even if you have student debt, there are many options out there that favor your commitment to education.