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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness

Have a bunch of student loans? Teach special ed? Or in a low income school? Or maybe you're in an area of shortage? Then read on! You may qualify to have part or all of your student loans forgiven!





The federal teacher loan forgiveness program is the real deal! I just recently received $5,000 in loan forgiveness. (I'd already had all of my Perkins loans forgiven a couple months ago - for over $2,000.) Anytime someone wants to give me over $7,000 in FREE money, I'll take it!


Up to $17,500 {or possibly more} forgiven!


You will want to read the official websites provided here, but I also want to give you my take and a few pointers.




Here is my experience. I spent my first five years teaching in a low income school. Each year I was teaching I had to contact my undergrad (and later grad) school to let them know my Perkins loan were in deferment. Yes, it was a bit of a pain - but it saved me just over $2,000. I'll take that for a couple hours worth of headache anytime! Make sure you get the appropriate signatures and have everything filled out appropriately. It's a royal pain - and slightly embarrassing - to have to send your administrator something twice when you make a mistake!


I made copies of EVERYTHING! I would date when I sent items to my college. It's not that I don't trust the college or the post office, but this was an incredible amount of cash! (And I may be a bit OCD)


Make sure you keep your address up-to-date at your college or university! That way they can send you the deferment/cancellation amounts each year. Every year they cancel a different percentage, which increases each year until it's gone. So even if you only teach in a low income school for a year or two - you can still get money forgiven!!



After five years (and another form with administrative signature's each year) my Perkins loans were totally forgiven! =) Any time I had questions in the five years, I just contacted my colleges directly and they were super helpful. And I even worked with two different colleges during this time frame, so I know how juggling it all can be...




Federal Stafford Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans - http://www.studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/charts/teacher

No joke - this loan forgiveness was a bit harder to get. Thankfully there wasn't paperwork to do each and every year, but the final product was more work and headache than all five years of work on the Perkins. =(


When my five years of teaching were up, I had to get information from each of the administrator's I'd worked under. The form is roughly five pages to fill out. The tough part was determining which of my loan providers to send the loan to. One of the providers literally gave me the run around for over two months. I would call and talk to "Bob" who sounded nothing like a Bob. He would say he would call me back tomorrow to let me know if the company would forgive my loans. No call from Bob. So after 3-4 days I would call back and ask for "Bob" and of course no one could locate him so I'd talk to someone new. This time it might be "Joe" and the cycle would repeat. This happened for nearly a month before I got fed up and called the Department of Education directly!


The woman I talked to from the DoE was more than accommodating. She informed me that the loan provider could not deny my application if I were eligible. I should simply send it to them. (However, I had another friend who had sent her application to the same place and they informed her they never received it! Twice! HA!) This sweet DoE woman went on to tell me that she could contact them and take care of it. However, it may take awhile (read - months!). She then asked if I had any other loan providers. Which I (thankfully?) did. So I called them, talked to a real person, finished my paperwork, sent it off, and within a week had a notice via e-mail and mail that they were reviewing my application! 


At this point is took almost two months for my application to go through. But during this time frame my loans were deferred so I didn't have to make any payments! =) Then one day I got this sweet note in the mail and this is what I saw ----

To summarize this long post, it was well worth the paperwork, phone calls, headache, etc to get over $7,000 paid off!


Feel free to leave me a comment with any questions you may have. I'm no expert, but I'll do what I can to help!
~HoJo~


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This post is not a guarantee that your student loans will be forgiven. I was not given loan forgiveness in exchange for writing this post. It is a real government program that may allow teachers loan forgiveness. Go to the Federal Student Aid website for further details and limitations. I wrote this post because the letter I received stated, "We hope that this payment will allow you to continue in this noble service and that you notify other eligible teachers about this program." I hope other teachers can benefit from me writing it!



44 comments:

Jessica Tobin said...

This has been on my to-do list to call them! I have heard about the forgiveness programs, but never had all the information. Thanks for inspiring me to call TOMORROW!! I have more loans than I can even imagine paying off!

Thanks!
Jessica
Second Grade Nest

Stacey Arballo said...

Do you know if they'll forgive grad loans too?

~HoJo~ said...

To my knowledge, if you meet the criteria - they cancel them. Part of the Perkins loans I had forgiven were grad loans. The Stafford loans I had forgiven were all undergraduate, but that is only because the grad loan people were the ones who were impossible to work with. Good luck! =)

Dondee said...

Thanks for the info. My daughter has quite a bit of undergrad loans and will be interested in this.

Angie Armstrong said...

This doesn't work if you've consolidated your loans, my husband is a spec Ed teacher in a low income district and because he consolidated his bachelor and masters loans, he doesn't qualify. A huge disappointment for us.

Beverly Grimes said...

Angi, if you reconsolidate through Obamas new govt student loan program, they will do student loan I forgiveness after you teach for 10 years.

~HoJo~ said...

Great point, Angie! That is exactly why I didn't consolidate for the first five years. That's on my summer to do list, as I'm hoping to get the interest rates down.

Beverly - I didn't realize that about Obama's program. Do you have any links or anything? I'm not familiar with that one...

Julie Marciniak said...

I would love to hear more about Obama's new program. I have been teaching for 11 years and this could definitely help!
Thanks so much for some valuable information!
Julie
Ms. Marciniak's First Grade Critter Cafe
Celebrate and Join my 100th Follower Ultimate Giveaway: Skype Author Visit!

Barbi said...

This is my fifth year of teaching in a low income school, and I am aware of the Stafford Loan forgiveness and planning to apply for that at the end of the school year. However, I hadn't heard about the Perkins loan forgiveness! Any idea if I can apply for past years?? Or atleast I can apply for just THIS year? Every little bit helps! Thanks for your blog post.

~HoJo~ said...

Barbi - To my knowledge you can't "back" apply for Perkins loans. However, get in touch with your college and check! You can probably defer the rest until you finish this year and they'll be paid off. Again, just call your college/loan provider and find out for sure. Good luck!

Abigail Cunningham said...

I have been teaching SpEd in a low income area for two years (directly out of college, $30k in stafford unsub/sub loans). I consolidated my loans last year and applied for the loan forgiveness as it appeared I qualified for the 17,500. At that time I was denied and told I could not be approved until the $17,500 would pay off the entire balance of my loan. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks!

Tawni Wollerman said...

I am a speech language pathologist that has worked in a title I school for 8 years....I was able to get my Perkins loans ($2000) and $17,500 off of my consolidated direct loans....it was such a huge relief!!!

~HoJo~ said...

Abigail - I'm not sure if your loans will still qualify for forgiveness. It all depends on the type of consolidation you did. You may want to contact your loan providers or the Department of Education to see if your consolidation was the correct kind to later apply for forgiveness. If you still qualify - you will not be able to apply for forgiveness until you've taught the full five years. If before that time you reach only $17,500 in loans - you can contact them and explain that your loan forgiveness will cancel the remaining amount. I believe they will defer payments at that point, but you may still have to pay interest. Contacting your loan providers or the DoE is probably your best option at this point. Good luck!

~HoJo~ said...

@Tawni - Congrats! I love hearing that other people have had success with this program as well. Please share this post so we can let even more people know about this!!

Tracee Orman said...

I just paid my student loans off this year...I graduated from college in 1994! If anyone can pay off early or have them forgiven, I highly recommend! Thanks for posting this, Heather!

Unknown said...

UNLESS you did like I did and took them up on the loan consolidation offer! I never called them, they sent me an offer to consolidate my two loans, which total over $50,000! I graduated in 1997, have paid faithfully every note of $498.00 since, and I still OWE over $50,000! I called about the loan forgiveness since I've made over 120 payments and was told that since I consolidated my two loans, I didn't qualify!!! Sickening!

Nancy said...

I plan on doing this...I have taught special education in a rural, low income schoolnfor 8years.
I have also heard about a "public service loan forgiveness"... The applicant must have taught for ten years...has anyone else heard of this? And do you know if can apply for both?

weslie said...

I am in the middle of the graduate school headache! I had scholarships for undergrad so loans are completely new to me. I have been teaching for 3 years in a rural school...and special ed. This should.qualify me right? I was told that you can get your loans forgiven before 5 years as long as you remain in rural schools for the remainder of the 5 years. Does anyone know if this is correct or not? Also, when do i begin applying?
SC teacher
Weslie

~HoJo~ said...

Weslie - Your best bet is to contact your loan provider and see what they say. To my knowledge you're not able to get anything cancelled until you've taught the full five years. However, you may qualify for a deferment. Give your loan holder or or Department of Education a call and see what they say. Good luck!

Brittany Wheaton said...

I just saw this post on TBTS 7-12 forum and had to come check it out!! Great advice! This is definitely going on my to-do list! Thank you for all of the awesome information.

Brittany
http://thesuperheroteacher.blogspot.com/

Whitney Bunn said...

Most of the things I am reading are for low-income schools... Is this only title 1? Because my hubby is a teacher, but not at a title one school. He has applied multiple times, but they never hire him since he is a new teacher. Would he qualify for anything NOT being at a low-income school? Should we be deferring his loan payments so they can be forgiven later?

Heather W said...

Whitney -

I think most of these programs are intended for people at low-come schools, but it can't hurt to call your student loan holders and see if your husbands loans qualify for forgiveness. There might be more programs out there than I even realize...

Lucia said...

There is a list that you can check to see If the school you work at qualifies. It is on the Fed page.

steph0620 said...

I just called about this today and I am so thankful for this! The website to go on to find if your school is low-income is: https://www.tcli.ed.gov/CBSWebApp/tcli/. Click on the search button in the middle of the page then fill in the information. I wasn't sure if my school was low-income (I found this site in an article I read after the call) but they said that if it wasn't I could qualify for "Public Service Forgiveness" since I am an elementary teacher at a public school. There were a list of other occupations that qualify too so I highly recommend calling your lender and asking! What have you got to lose?! Any time/paper work is worth it if it's going to help financially!

Chelsea said...

What are the benefits of deferring your student loans for the five years? I believe I will still have 5,000 to pay even after the 5 years of teaching at a low income school.

Heather W said...

Chelsea - I believe deferment would be best if the loan cancellation would cover the entire amount you have left. If you're going to get $5,000 forgiven and still have $5,000 left - I, personally, would keep paying. Otherwise they will charge you interest. But call your loan provider and see what they recommend. Good luck!

tgreene2nd said...

Hello, just wanted to let you know that I had consolidated mine and they paid 2,500 for one year. It is possible unless after a certain year they changed the rules. Good luck :)

Nick T said...

I've been teaching in a low income district for 5 years and will be entering my 6th year. I am a math teacher so am eligible for $17,500.

I am currently entering my 2nd year of grad school and will graduate in May.

On the application it states, "The loan(s) for which you are seeking forgiveness must have been made before the end of your five academic years of qualifying teaching service."

Does this mean the loans I receive during this year, my 6th year, won't be forgiven?

Thanks!

Heather W said...

@Nick T - You may have to wait a full five for those loans to be forgiven. I was eligible to have all of my Perkins loans at one university completely paid because my five years of teaching there were AFTER the loans were taken out. However, at the other university, I was only able to get two years forgiven because my first years of teaching didn't go back to cover those. Just be patient and it *should* work out for you. Also, call your loan holder to see what they tell you.

Good luck!
~HoJo~

APTeacher1 said...

Thank you so much for a very informative post! I have some questions that hopefully you can help me with. First I am starting my 4th yr. teaching in a Title 1 high school. I have no undergraduate student loans. I am applying to a State University's graduate school for Education Leadership Certification so I can enter into administration. I was hoping to try to utilize the Perkins Loan forgiveness that you described and the Federal Direct Loan Teacher Forgiveness. I teach Advanced Placement Economics and Advanced Placement World History, so I don’t expect to qualify for up to the ESE, Math or Science incentives. I spoke to the admissions person at the university and she told me that the graduate program that I would be completing was not considered to be an area of great need and most likely would not be eligible for the Direct Loan forgiveness and she had never heard of the Perkins forgiveness. Are do you know if there are any restrictions on what type of graduate degrees are eligible for either of the two loan forgiveness that programs that you have mentioned? Please advise me! Thank you!

Heather W said...

APTeacher - I don't know for sure what to tell you, but based on what I've heard in the past you will need to teach for five years AFTER you've taken out the loans. So if you go straight into administration, you probably won't qualify. However, if you get the degree, then teach for five years - you should. You'll want to continue talking to your loan holders and the universities. I wish I could tell you that it's an easy process, but - as you read in my post - it can be a pain calling people and getting it all figured out. Good luck! And please keep us posted!!

Jessica Morello said...

I am a school-based speech-language pathologist working in a low-income school district. I was told prior to consolidating my loans to NOT consolidate your Perkins loans with your federal Stafford/Direct loans. I kept my Perkins separate, and consolidated all of my Stafford/Direct loans. I didn't and thankfully all $17,000 of my Perkins loans were forgiven. Had I consolidated, that wouldn't have been the case. I submitted a form to the university I attended at the end of each year that I taught and they canceled a percentage each year (15% for years 1-2, 20% for 3-4 and 30% for year 5). Amazing, $17000 down. I then began the application process for my Stafford/Direct loans. I completed the "Teacher Loan Forgiveness" Application and sent it in to Mohela (the company that services my loans) with hopes of getting $17,500 of them forgiven (since I’m a special ed teacher). About 2 weeks after sending it in, Mohela notified me that my loan would be in forbearance and determination was being considered. After waiting a few weeks, I called Mohela to get the update. They stated that my application was sent to the Department of Education to be reviewed. This usually takes a few months (but could take up to a year). In the meantime, I didn’t have to make payments. However it only took about one month and I received the full $17,500 off. I checked my online balance daily and one day it was $17,500 less. I called Mohela the next day to confirm that I was seeing straight and they said that I was. I about died in my chair. I have just started getting paper copy confirmation. It sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t. It can be a putzy/stressful process because the paperwork has to be JUST right. I had to submit my app twice because I worked for a short time at an educational service agency and the agency wasn’t on the directory for low income schools. Mohela recommended that I get the school district that I was contracted to while working at the agency to verify my employment, rather than the agency. This worked  Also, I printed the webpage from the directory showing my school was on it. I think this helped clear any confusion. So my recommendations: apply (you have nothing to lose), print a copy of the webpage showing that your school district is on the registry for low income schools, make sure you apply after 5 full years of teaching, double-triple check you application, and make copies of everything before sending it off. I wish all of you luck. In my situation it equaled $34,500 off my loans. I still can’t believe it. I just got them forgiven (August 2013) so there is still money out there! (sorry, very wordy, but hopefully it helps someone)

Stacey Arballo said...

They forgive grad loans too! I just got a notice that $5,000 was forgiven! Thank you for this post!!!

Kate :) said...

Found this through your guest blog post on Brandi's blog A Peach for the Teach! This is great info and I pinned it so I can reference it as I go through the process!

Kate :)
McDee's Busy Bees

Elena Bellino said...

Hi I am also an SLP but was denied forgiveness if the Direct Loan because of my credential. They said it was a service and not classroom credential. I have the professional clear clinical and rehabilitative services credential. Do you have a different kind?

Heather W said...

Elena - Unfortunately, I really don't understand the difference between "service" versus "classroom". I am a certified classroom teacher with both an elementary and special education degree. I know I've seen opportunities for SLPs to have student loans forgiven in the past, but my best suggestion at this point is to look at the websites until you come across something. (Or perhaps another person reading this would be able to give you advice?)

Jessica Morello said...

Elena, if you work full time in a low income school, you should qualify as an SLP. I would keep investigating. Maybe call the Dept. of Education?

Love Emily said...

I just filled out my application for the $5000 but my application was only a page. There were a bunch of other pages that only had information on it. I know it's been a year since yours but do you have the link for the application you filled out?

Thanks

Heather W said...

Love Emily - Here's a direct link to the Stafford Loan Forgiveness form - http://ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/attachments/GEN1216Attac18450059TLFAppFINALExp20140531.pdf It's only a page or two long total.

If you have Perkins loans, you will need to contact the university that holds those loans directly to receive the correct paperwork. My university sent me the paperwork each year.

Good luck!
~HoJo~

Brittany H said...

Currently waiting to see if I receive my teacher loan forgiveness as a secondary science teacher.

katie said...

Is there anything similar for Social Workers?

Brittany H said...

I was denied because I must wait until August to turn in my paperwork (officially five years in August instead of five school years Which is when I completed the paperwork). I will update everyone in September.

Kathryn Barnum said...

Don't forget about Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). This applies for many different fields, so those asking about SLPs, social workers, etc. may want to check it out. After 120 loan payments your remaining balance is forgiven!

https://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/charts/public-service

Denise said...

Do you have to work in a title 1/low income school in order for your loans to be forgiven or can you just be special education? (I'm an SLP)