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Degrees Not Debt Toolkit

Degrees Not Debt is the National Education Association’s campaign to help members navigate the student loan maze and empower them to take action.
Published: 12/12/2017 Last Updated: 12/12/2017

Teacher Loan Forgiveness


How does this work?

  • You could be eligible for $5000 or $17,500 in forgiveness
    • $17,500 for all special education and high school math and science teachers
    • $5000 for all other teachers
  • You work in an eligible school and meet criteria listed below.

 How do I know if I am eligible?

  • Work in a low-income school 
  • You are a teacher that provides direct instruction
    • Counselors, school nurses, school psychologists are not eligible
  • Worked for five complete, consecutive years in a school that is or was low-income at the start of 5 years of service
  • You have federal loans
  • Loans were taken out prior to, or within, your first five years of teaching at the qualifying low-income school.
  • Loans were taken out after October 1, 1998
    • If you took out loans prior to October 1, 1998 you could be eligible if:
      1. You paid them off and;
      2. Took out new loans and;
      3. New loans were taken out during five years of teaching at a low-income school
  • All eligibility requirements 

What do I do next?

1.    Determine if you work in a low-income school
2.    Determine if your qualifying full-time employment for five consecutive years is at a low-income school, or a school that was at the beginning of your service.
3.    Fill out the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application

  • Wait until after you have completed your fifth year of teaching
  • Your principal or human resources contact will need to complete a section
  • Use name of school as it appears on the low-income school database

4.    Send completed application to your loan servicer

Public Service Loan Forgiveness


How does this work?

  • You have federal direct loans
  • You make 120 payments (10 years)
  • Remaining principle and interest is forgiven.

How do I know if I am eligible?

  • Work in public service
    • All educators are eligible, other professions include: government organizations, emergency services, public health, and 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations.
  • Work at least 30 hours a week, 8 months of the year.
  • Make 120 payments
    • Do not need to be consecutive
    • Must be on time (within 15 days of due date)
    • Payments are retroactive to October 1, 2007—loans taken out before 2007 are still eligible!
    • Earliest date of forgiveness is October 1, 2017
  • Have federal direct loans
    • Check your loan type at the National Student Loan Data System 
    • Eligible loans will have “direct” in their title
    • You can consolidate ineligible loans into eligible direct loans.
  • Be enrolled in a qualified income-driven repayment plan

FAQ, Certification Form, and useful websites

What do I do next?

  1. Determine if your loans are eligible
  2. Get enrolled in an eligible payment plan
    • You must re-enroll every year in an eligible payment plan
  3. Fill out the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Certification Form
    • Complete all sections for borrowers
    • Final section must be completed by your Human Resources Department
  4. Send completed forms to:

U.S. Department of Education FedLoan Servicing
P.O. Box 69184
Harrisburg, PA 17106-9184 Or Fax to: 717-720-1628

*Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Teacher Loan Forgiveness cannot be applied concurrently.

4 Steps for Enrolling in an Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Program


  1. Obtain your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID

  2. Review federal student loans

    • Using your FSA ID, review your loans on the National Student Loan Data System
    • Review your loan(s) and loan servicer(s)
  3. Determine Potential Savings

    • Using your FSA ID, use the Repayment Estimator calculator to determine whether you are eligible for an Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Program (IBR, PAYE, ICR, REPAYE) and how much you could potentially save.
  4. Enroll



If you are having an issue with your federal student loan and have already contacted your loan servicer, then contact the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group online or at 1-877-557-2575.

If you have an issue with a private student loan, contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau online or at 1-855- 411-237.

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