What is Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program?

It is rightly said that a teacher affects multiple generations. Teaching is definitely not an easy task, well if you are serious about it. It not only takes ample amount of expertise in a subject, rather a lot of passion to convey that knowledge. Talking about knowledge, teaching is one such job that requires a graduate degree; usually, more than that. But it isn’t that easy to earn a graduate degree given high cost of education in the form of books, tuition fee and living expenditures. What helps to meet such expenditures are student loans that are quite popular in the US society.  

A student loan is specifically designed for students to pay for their education expenses and carry substantially lower interest rates and suitable repayment schedules to help students pay them back when they are capable of. Student loans are different from scholarships and grants and are supposed to be paid off. 

Student Loan Forgiveness Program

Repaying a student loan is generally not as easy a task as is taking one. It becomes even harder to pay off a student loan when an individual chooses to join public sector services or some other low paying job like teaching or nursing to follow one’s passion and field of interest. It is to help such borrowers that there exists a concept of Student loan forgiveness programs. A student loan forgiveness programme is designed to help students pay full or a part of their student loan.

This sounds great but off course requires something in return. Student loan forgiveness programmes typically require the student to pursue a particular occupation or volunteering service in exchange of paying off the loan completely or in part. In the US, student loan forgiveness programs are also aimed at directing individuals towards sectors of national importance where there is lack of qualified personnel. The US Department of Education offers forgiveness on federal student loans and once forgiven, the student is not liable to pay his remaining loan balance.

There are two types of student loan forgiveness programmes; upfront forgiveness that eliminates a part of student debt with each passing year of service and back-end forgiveness that cancels whole of the student loan after a certain number of years of service. Back-end forgiveness programs come with all-or-nothing condition and therefore, might be risky for individuals who are not sure whether they would be able to complete their committed tenure of service or not. Student loan forgiveness programs are also available on private student debt but the provision of the same highly depends on the private lender. 

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program 

Talking about Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programme offered by the US Department of Education, a person  can qualify as a teacher only after proper licensing, certification as a teacher and registration with the state education agency. A certification is required for the skills and knowledge that an individual seeks to impart as a teacher. Individuals providing Direct Classroom teaching or classroom type teaching in a non-classroom setup are considered as teachers. There are mainly two types of Teacher loan forgiveness program, namely, teacher loan forgiveness and teacher cancellation.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness: An individual is required to teach full-time for five complete years consecutively, in certain elementary school, secondary school and educational service agencies that provide educational services to low-income groups and meet some other qualifications, in order to qualify for Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programme. The US Department of Education maintains a list of low-income schools that qualify for this program. Under this program, an individual might be eligible to have a combined amount of $17,500 forgiven on Direct Unsubsidized and Subsidized Loans and also on Direct Unsubsidized and Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans. Borrowers carrying a PLUS Loan are not eligible for such forgiveness program. 

Eligibility for Teacher Loan Forgiveness

The borrower should not have an outstanding balance on Federal Family Education Loan or Direct Loans on or after October 1, 1998 to qualify for this programme. Individuals with default on their subsidized or unsubsidized loans are not eligible for such forgiveness unless they make satisfactory arrangements for repayment. Loan must be availed sometime before the end of one’s five years of full time and consecutive teaching service.

Teaching service provided to receive the benefits of AmeriCorps does not count towards the teaching requirement for teacher loan forgiveness. The years of one’s teaching service must include at least one year after the 1997-98 academic year. Only employment in an elementary or secondary school that is listed in the US Department of Education’s Annual Directory of Designated Low- Income Schools is eligible for this loan forgiveness program. 

Teacher Cancellation 

Borrowers with Federal Perkins Loan Program who provide full time teaching at low income schools or teach some specific subject areas might be eligible for cancellation of their loan. A loan can be discharged up to 100 percent on serving as a teacher to low- income families in a public or non- profit elementary or secondary school.

Teachers who teach infants, toddlers, children or young students with disabilities are classed as special education teacher and qualify for this program. Teachers who teach specific subject such as mathematics, science, foreign languages or any other field where there is shortage of teachers also qualify. Teachers meeting such requirements are required to teach full time for an academic year to be eligible for the discharge of loan. The discharge of loan is 15 percent for first two years of service, 20 percent of the loan is cancelled for the third and fourth year each 30 percent of the loan is cancelled for the fifth year of service. 

Benefits of Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs

Teacher Loan Forgiveness program helps a dedicated individual to repay a maximum of $17,500 student debt. This is a big advantage for people who choose a career in a very important but not so highly paid profession of teaching. Such a program provides incentive to individuals who wish to take up specialised studies due to provision of loan cancellation for borrowers with specific subjects of specialization.

The system of teacher loan forgiveness programs helps US build up a strong economy in terms of its academicians by providing such benefits to people who wish to enter the academics sector. The provision of such system corresponds with and supports the policy of providing quality education to low – income families by directing the youth of the society towards providing education services to such families in exchange o having their student loans forgiven. 

Limitations of Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

One major disadvantage of the teacher loan forgiveness program is that due to various strict conditions imposed on the eligibility for this program, many borrowers who are in need are left out from the ambit of the program. This highly disappoints a majority of borrowers who might be in need but not eligible to avail the benefits of such forgiveness programs. Another problem associated with such forgiveness programs is the illusion they create in the minds of the borrowers who are left thinking that most of their debt would be forgiven and end up taking more debt. It is also been said that the federal government already provides subsidy to college education via various program and this forgiveness plan would be an added burden on federal subsidy, raising it to an all new level. 


Student loan forgiveness programs offer a multitude of benefits for borrowers with genuine needs and with each amendment, aim to broaden the range of people who can qualify for such programs. Such programs especially, facilitate students who wish to serve the society by choosing low- paying careers like teaching in a low- income school.

Some even believe that more than forgiveness, teacher student loan forgiveness programs are a way of expressing gratitude to people serving the nation by imparting knowledge among the masses. Undoubtedly, such loan forgiveness programs are of huge importance to millions of students but one unaddressed issue that remains is the high cost of earning a college degree. Any measures towards reducing that cost would beneficially correspond with such forgiveness programs and help the economy as a whole.