How Teachers Can Save Thousands on Their Student Loans

05/02/2015 11:48 am ET | Updated May 01, 2016

The average teacher accrues over $50,000 in combined debt to receive a master's in education according to a study conducted by the New American Foundation for 2012 graduates. Trying to overcome a $400 monthly payment does not have to be handled on your own and fortunately, there are forgiveness options available on a state and federal to help repay student debt.

There are four federal forgiveness programs to qualifying teachers who are interested in providing teaching assistance to underserved and/or low-income communities identified as a critical need shortage area or within a critical subject field.

Of note, the Federal Teach Grant offers up to $4,000 per year for a four-year service commitment within a qualified shortage field or area. For a recent masters graduate, the forgiveness savings can eliminate a large portion of debt and help teachers pay off their loans in a commendable way.

On a state level there are approximately 24 states that have student loan forgiveness programs and forgive between $250-$6,000 per year. The level of forgiveness and likelihood of acceptance will increase for applicants who teach within subject shortages and at high value sites. In addition, these programs usually require:

  • A service commitment to a state's critical subject field or shortage area in exchange for forgiveness.
  • Graduation from the state's teaching program and/or have required state licensing.
  • Qualifying loans and a demonstrated level of need.
  • The applicant must not be a participant in a federal forgiveness program.
If you would like to learn more about these service-oriented forgiveness options, check out the reference guide below to see if your state has a program and the details regarding each individual program:

And if you have outstanding loans after forgiveness or are in a professional situation where are unable to find forgiveness, then you may want to look into refinancing your student loans as a way of lessening your student loan burden.

Area Program Benefit
Federal Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Full forgiveness after 120 payments
Federal Federal TEACH Grant Program $4,000 per year
Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program (TLFP) Up to $17,500
Federal The Federal Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation Up to 30% cancellation after three years
Alaska Teacher Education Loan (TEL) Program Up to 100% forgiveness
Arkansas Arkansas State Teacher Assistance Resource Program Betweeen $3,000 and $6,000 per year
Delaware Critical Need Scholarships Up to $1,323 for undergraduate coursework
Delaware Delaware Teacher Corps One year teaching one year of education forgiveness
Idaho Education Incentive Loan Forgiveness Repayment amount variable
Illinois Illinois Special Education Tuition Waiver Program Repayment amount variable
Illinois The Illinois Teachers and Child Care Providers Loan Repayment Program Up to $5,000 per year
Iowa Iowa Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program Up to 20%
Kansas Kansas Teacher Service Scholarship One year teaching one year of education forgiveness
Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority Teacher Scholarship Program $2,500 per semester
Kentucky Minority Educator Recruitment and Retention Scholarship $5,000 per semester
Maine Educators for Maine Program One year teaching one year of education forgiveness
Maryland Workforce Shortage Student Assistance Grant (WSSAG) Up to $19,000
Maryland Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program (LARP) Personal debt dictates award amount
Mississippi Graduate Teacher Summer Loan/Scholarship (GTS) $125 per graduate credit earned
Mississippi Mississippi Teacher Loan Repayment Program (MTLR) Up to $3,000 per year
Mississippi William Winter Teacher Scholar Loan (WWTS) Up to $4,000 per year
Montana Quality Educator Loan Assistance Program Up to $3,000 per year
Nebraska Attracting Excellence to Teaching Program Up to $3,000 per year
Nebraska Enhancing Excellence in Teaching Program Up to $3,000 per year
New Mexico New Mexico Teacher Loan-For-Service Program Repayment amount variable
New York New York State Math & Science Teaching Incentive Program Up to $5,595 per year
New York NYC Department of Education: Teachers for Tomorrow $3,400 per year
North Dakota STEM Occupations Student Loan Program Up to $1,500 per year
North Dakota North Dakota University Teacher Shortage Loan Forgiveness Program Up to $1000 per year
Oaklahoma Teacher Shortage Employment Incentive Program Repayment amount variable
South Carolina South Carolina Teachers Loan Program Up to $3,000 per year
Tennessee Tennessee Teaching Scholars Program Repayment amount variable
Tennessee Tennessee Math & Science Teacher's Loan Forgiveness Up to $10,000 for all years of study
Texas Teach for Texas Loan Repayment Assistance Program Max award of $2,500
Utah T.H. Bell Teaching Incentive Loan Program (TIL) $995 per semester waiver
Virginia Virginia Teaching Scholarship Program Up to $10,000 for all years of study
West Virginia Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarship Program Up to $5,000 per year
Wisconsin Minority Teacher Loan Up to $5,000 per year
Wisconsin Teacher Education Loan Program 50% forgiven per year
Wisconsin Teacher of the Visually Impaired Loan Repayment amount variable

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