Loan Forgiveness Qualifications: How it Works

Loan Forgiveness

One of the most common obstacles to completing a master’s degree in education, or in any field, is the cost. Many people obviously will be reluctant to pursue a master’s degree if it is going to saddle them with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.

Fortunately, today there are several unique options that you can pursue to deal with your student loans if you are working on a master’s degree in education. Many master’s degree students have borrowed funds through the Stafford Loan and/or the PLUS Loan Program managed by the U.S. government. If you agree to work in certain areas of the country as a teacher, you may become eligible to have up to $17,500 of your federal student loans cancelled.

If you have any loans that were made under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program and the William Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, you may also qualify for forgiveness of some of your federal student loans.

How to Qualify for Loan Forgiveness

To apply to have some of your federal student loans forgiven, you must work full time for a minimum of five years in a qualifying, low-income school that is eligible for loan forgiveness  according to Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Remember that private loans are not eligible for loan forgiveness.

If you started as a teacher before Oct. 30, 2004, in an elementary or secondary school, you can get up to $5,000 of your student loan debt forgiven. If you are a highly qualified math or science teacher in a secondary school, you can get up to $17,500 of your student debts forgiven. You also may qualify for the higher amount iif you are a special ed teacher that is highly qualified.

Keep in mind that you cannot qualify for any loan forgiveness if your loans are in default. And, the principal at the school at which you work must certify that you meet all qualifications for the forgiveness program.

Other Programs

Many master’s in education students do not realize that there are other ways to have some of your loans cancelled. For example, according to provisions of the National Defense Education Act, you can have some of your loans forgiven if you work in a low-income school.

Also, it is a good idea to check with your local district to see if there are any other possible loan forgiveness programs in your area. Last, be sure to check with the American Federation of Teachers, where they keep a state list of loan forgiveness programs.