Many Arizona teachers are unaware of federal programs that can eliminate up to $17,500 of their student loans simply by going to work each day. Teachers that have federal student loans under the FFEL Program or the Direct Loan Program can have their student loans forgiven up to $17,500.
Here are the requirements to have $17,500 of your student loans cancelled:
Teach full time for five (5) consecutive years; and
Teach math or science at an eligible secondary school; or
Teach special ed at an eligible elementary or secondary school; and
Have no outstanding student loan balances as of October 1, 1998; and
Not be in default on your student loan
Let’s unpack this a bit – here is a brief explanation for each of these requirements:
Teach for 5 Consecutive Years
You must teach for five (5) consecutive years. There is an exception for teachers who are serving on active duty during a war or other military operation. Further, because this is a fairly new program only years teaching after the 2007-2008 school year count towards the five years required.
Teach Math or Science at an Eligible Secondary School
Teaching math or science is pretty self explanatory. However you may wonder if you work at an eligible secondary school. First, it only applies to secondary schools – not elementary schools. Next, your school must be eligible and serve low-income families. Most schools in Arizona qualify for this – in fact there are over 1300 schools in Arizona that meet the requirements.
Or Teach Special Education at an Eligible Elementary or Secondary School
Teachers teaching special education get the added advantage that their five years of teaching service can be at either an elementary or secondary school.
Have No Outstanding Loan Balances as of October 1, 1998
All that this means is that you cannot have had any outstanding student loan balances back on October 1, 1998.
Not Currently Be in Default on Your Student Loans
If you currently are in default on your federal student loans (meaning you are at least 270 days past due) then you do not qualify for the Teacher Loan forgiveness. However, the good news is you can get your loans out of default and thus become eligible for this program. While beyond the scope of this article loans can return to good standing through consolidation and rehabilitation.
What If I Don’t Teach Math, Science, or Special Ed?
If you don’t teach any of those three subjects you can also qualify for loan forgiveness, however you must meet all of the same requirements and will only be eligible for $5,000 in student loan forgiveness.