You're an educator at heart, so you've always found your job rewarding. It doesn't matter to you that you're not swimming in cash.
Still, it would be nice to not have to worry about those loans you took out to pursue your dreams of teaching. Making the monthly payments and watching your earnings disappear is almost enough to bring you to tears these days.
Luckily for you, your profession comes with some many financial perks. You might not be paid well, but many programs offer student loan forgiveness for teachers.
You just have to know where to look for these programs, some of which we've detailed below.
Sometimes you don't even have to look for student loan forgiveness programs. It's built right into the loans you accepted on occasion.
If, for instance, you have any Stafford loans, they come with some degree of built-in loan forgiveness for teachers. If you have Perkins Loans, you might also qualify for some type of built-in loan forgiveness.
Just because the forgiveness is built-in, however, doesn't mean that you automatically get it. Many of these programs demand that you meet some special requirements before you can have your loans forgiven.
As a result, you'll want to check with your loan providers before you make any assumptions.
Teachers are public servants, and they are treated as such by many agencies. Consequently, they may seek student loan forgiveness by way of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
There are, though, a few requirements that they must first meet. Teachers must be employed on a full-time basis, and they must be able to prove that they're currently doing work for an eligible institution.
Further still, they must have made at least 120 payments on their direct loans to qualify. All of these payments must have been made on time, however they do not need to be consecutive.
Also worth to mention, the PSLF program does not apply to private loans.
If you're a specialized teacher, you know that it takes a special set of skills to do your job.
The idea is not that you're a better teacher than your fellow educators. It is instead that you've taken on more responsibility or undergone more specialized training.
The government realizes this, so you might just qualify for a bit more loan forgiveness than other teachers.
Teachers who go into health are among the ranks of those who receive this extra forgiveness. They can receive tens of thousands of dollars to help them pay off their loans.
They can even get funding to negate any tax burdens.
We briefly mentioned Perkins Loans above, but there is even more to getting 100 percent of your Perkins Loans forgiven than we hinted at.
As it turns out, you can get one of your Perkins Loans cancelled completely if you meet certain requirements.
So what are these requirements?
You have to teach full time at a low-income school for at least five complete and consecutive academic years. You can also teach a specific subject in an area in which there is a shortage of teachers who teach that subject.
If you're not sure that your school qualifies as a low-income school, there is an Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits which allows teachers to check the status of the schools at which they teach.
Out of all of the programs which offer loan forgiveness for teachers, the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is perhaps the most aptly named program on our list.
That said, it's arguably one of the more complex programs on this list.
This is because it has a ton of eligibility requirements.
Because there are far too many of them, we won't be going over them all here. We'll instead refer you to the U.S. Department of Education's detailed information about the program, and the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application form.
Thus far, all of the programs which offer student loan forgiveness for teachers that we've talked about have been federal programs. However, there are several states which also have specialized programs for teachers.
In the state of Illinois, for example, teachers may be offered awards to teach in the state. Like many of the programs we've mentioned before, these awards come with stipulations. These teachers must teach in low-incomes areas to receive them.
If you're not sure about whether or not your state has special programs, be sure to check out some online databases.
Attracting talent is a priority for many school districts and low-income neighborhoods. As a result, teachers who have higher credentials are often given a few extra opportunities for student loan forgiveness programs.
The idea here is that these teachers have more student loans than others since they've attended graduate school. A lot of the programs which target credentials allow teachers to use their awards to pay back the loans they took out for graduate school.
Keep in mind that these programs aren't federal programs. Many of them are offered at the state level, so you'll have to do your own research to find out if any programs are offered in your state.
Some people have reported that they've been contacted or approached by people who claimed to be representatives from some of these loan forgiveness programs.
These representatives have often indicated that users must pay monthly fees to join the programs.
This is untrue. You won't be paying to have your loans forgiven. You qualify as long as you're a teacher and you meet each program's requirements.
All in all, there are several opportunities for student loan forgiveness for teachers.
If you're saddled with debt now, don't worry. At least one of the programs on this list should be able to relieve you of some of your debt.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by the options on this list, you can contact us for more information.
We can advise you on how student loan programs work and help you research the best options for you.