Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Do you have student loan debt?

You’re not alone. In fact, you are one of 40 million Americans navigating through student debt.

Check out this video from the National Education Association for a few tips on how to reduce your student debt payments today and eliminate them in 10 years through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program:

Wondering if you can get your federal student loans forgiven or canceled for your services as a teacher?

Great news: you can!

These programs are not just for new teachers. If you meet the listed Stafford or Perkins loan criteria, and taught in one of the eligible schools, you should really check it out. The list that the U.S. Teacher Cancellation Low Income folks keep goes back to 1998, and as long as you fill out the form, and have the Chief Administrative Officer of the district you worked for sign it, you may get some repayment help.

Here are three main programs to help teachers reduce or eliminate student loan debt:

This program is intended to encourage individuals to enter and continue to work full-time in public service jobs, including public education. Loans available for forgiveness under this program are any non-defaulted loans made under the Direct Loan Program. Direct Loan Programs include:

  • Stafford/Ford Loans
  • Direct Plus Loans
  • Direct Consolidated Loans

In order for the Department of Education to track your qualifying employment and qualifying payments, you’re encouraged to submit the Employment Certification Form annually, while working to fulfill the employment and payment requirements for Public Service Loan Forgiveness to receive feedback on eligibility. In some cases additional documentation may be requested. It’s important to retain as many documents supporting qualifying employment as possible. This could include, but not be limited to IRS W2 forms and paystubs.

Borrowers may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance of their Direct Loans after making 120 qualifying payments (10 years) on those loans while employed full time by certain public service employers, including public education. Only on-time, full, scheduled monthly payments made after 10/1/07 qualify and you must be working full-time at a qualifying public service organization. Since you must make 10 years of qualifying payments after 10/1/07, the first forgiveness balances will not be granted until October 2017.

To learn more visit

Perkins loans, also known as “Campus Based Loans” have unique requirements for loan cancellation based on the field you work in. Colleges/Universities award these federal, low-interest loans to high-need students attending or planning to attend college. Approximately 1,700 participating higher educational institutions offer Perkins loans.


If you teach in a low-income or subject matter shortage area, you may be eligible to cancel or defer your student loans. You’ll qualify for cancellation of up to 100 percent of your Perkins loan if you have served full-time in a public or nonprofit elementary or secondary school system as a:

  • Teacher in a school serving students from low income families; or
  • Special education teacher of children with disabilities; or
  • Teacher in the fields of mathematics, science, foreign language, bilingual education or any other field of expertise determined by the state education agency to have a shortage of qualified teachers in that state.
  • Teachers in a school operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs or operated on Indian reservations by Indian tribal groups under contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

How it works

Perkins borrowers can have up to 100% of their loan cancelled over the course of 5 years. Here’s how it works:

  • 15% of principal balance and accrued interest can be cancelled after first and second year of qualifying service;
  • 20% can be cancelled after the third and fourth year;
  • 30% can be cancelled after the fifth year.

Perkins loans also offer concurrent deferment if you are performing qualifying service. Combining that postponement with these cancellation options means you could potentially never have to make payments on these loans.

Obtain an application from the business office of the college/university that made you the loan.

To learn more visit

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is intended to encourage individuals to enter and continue in the teaching profession. Under this program, if you teach full-time for five complete and consecutive years in certain elementary and secondary schools and educational service agencies that serve low-income families, and meet other qualifications, you may be eligible for forgiveness up to $17,500 on your Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and your Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans.


  • You have an eligible Stafford/Ford Loan that you obtained through the Direct Loan or FFEL Programs, or you have a Direct Loan or FFEL consolidation loan that you received to repay an eligible Stafford Loan.
  • You are not in default on the loan for which you are requesting forgiveness (unless you’ve made satisfactory repayment arrangements with the holder of the loan).
  • You were employed for at least five consecutive, complete school years as a full-time teacher in a low-income elementary or secondary school (public or private) or educational service agency. To find out whether your school or educational service agency qualifies as low-income, visit or call 1-800-4-FED-AID. Note: all schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) are considered low-income schools for purposes of this program.
  • You’re a new borrower. You are considered a new borrower if you did not have an outstanding balance on a Direct or Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loan on Oct. 1, 1998 or on the date you obtained a Direct or FFEL Program loan after Oct. 1, 1998.
  • You’ve not received a benefit for the same teaching service through AmeriCorps or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (above).
  • You received the loan for which you are requesting forgiveness before the end of your fifth year of qualifying teaching.

How it works

If you meet the eligibility requirements, you may receive up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness if your five years of qualifying teaching service began before Oct. 30, 2004, and you were:

  • A full-time elementary school teacher at an elementary school or educational service agency who demonstrated knowledge and teaching skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and other areas of the elementary school curriculum; or
  • A full-time secondary school teacher or teacher of secondary students at an educational service agency who taught in a subject area relevant to your academic major; or

Or, if your five years of qualified teaching service began on or after Oct. 30, 2004, and you were:

  • A highly qualified full-time elementary or secondary school teacher at a low-income elementary or secondary school or educational service agency.

You may receive up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness if you were:

  • A highly qualified full-time mathematics or science teacher in a secondary school, or a highly qualified full time teacher of mathematics or science to secondary students at an educational service agency; or
  • A highly qualified full-time special education teacher who taught children with disabilities at an elementary or secondary school or educational service agency. In addition, you must have taught children with disabilities that correspond to your area of special education training, and you must have demonstrated knowledge and teaching skills in the content areas of the elementary or secondary school curriculum.

Most rural, and many urban Alaskan schools with low income populations are eligible for various teacher loan forgiveness incentives. Check the Teacher Cancellation Low Income (TCLI) Eligible Schools List to see if your school qualifies. Visit

Currently 380 schools in Alaska qualify!

To learn more visit

Want to learn more?

*Many states and/or employers offer student loan repayment/forgiveness benefits so be sure to visit Alaska’s Department of Education website and speak with your employer. It never hurts to ask if there are any special programs you may be able to benefit from.

*Check out this NEA Member Benefits Student Loan Forgiveness Powerpoint for more information.


Also be sure to check out these resources:

American Student Assistance:
FedLoan Servicing:
Financial Aid Toolkit:
Mapping Your Future:
NEA’s Student Loan Help:
Teacher Loan Forgiveness:
U.S. Department of Education Federal Student Aid Office:

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