:: Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF) Program ::
The Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF) Program was created to encourage people to become educators within designated schools that serve low-income families. Teachers with Stafford loans may qualify for loan forgiveness if they meet the program's specific eligibility requirements.
Use our Teacher Loan Forgiveness checklist PDF as a guide to help you determine your eligibility. If you can answer yes to all of the eligibility requirements listed, you may qualify for some level Stafford loan forgiveness. Download our Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program brochure PDF to find out more.
Common Questions about TLF
- Who do I contact if I have questions?
- What loans are eligible for forgiveness?
- Is my Federal Perkins loan eligible for forgiveness?
- Is my consolidation loan eligible for forgiveness?
- What if I got my loans before Oct. 1, 1998?
- Are teacher’s aides eligible for the program?
- Does my five years of service have to be at the same school?
- What if I've had an interruption in my five years of teaching service?
- What if my school is no longer designated as a low-income school?
- Are schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) low-income schools?
- What are the next steps if I'm eligible?
- Who's the chief administrative officer?
- How do I know how much I'm eligible for?
- How will the loan forgiveness payment be applied?
- If I don't qualify now but expect to later, can I stop making payments on my loan?
- What are some terms I should know?
- Where can I find more information about the program?
- Are there other teacher loan forgiveness programs?
Who do I contact if I have questions?
If you have any questions about the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, contact Jaime Shelton at 405.234.4281 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What loans are eligible for forgiveness?
Subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans from the FFELP and/or the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program are eligible. The portion of a consolidation loan that paid off an eligible Stafford loan may also be eligible for forgiveness.
Is my Federal Perkins loan eligible for forgiveness?
Federal Perkins loans may be eligible for complete loan cancellation after teaching for five years in a designated low-income school or in a subject-matter shortage area. Please note that cancellation benefits will be lost if you consolidate your Perkins loan. Contact your school or visit the Federal Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation page for more information.
Is my consolidation loan eligible for forgiveness?
It depends. To be eligible for forgiveness, you must be considered a new borrower. Consolidation loans aren't considered new loans and don't qualify you as a new borrower. You're considered a new borrower if you got your loan after Oct. 1, 1998, and didn't have an outstanding balance on a Stafford or Direct loan when you got your loan. Only the portion of your consolidation loan that paid off an eligible Stafford loan may be eligible for forgiveness.
What if I got my loans before Oct. 1, 1998?
If you had a federal student loan before Oct. 1, 1998, you must have repaid all loans before receiving new loans on or after Oct. 1, 1998. Congress didn't include provisions in the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program legislation to include forgiveness for loans received before Oct. 1, 1998.
Are teacher’s aides eligible for the program?
The program is only available for full-time teachers, which doesn't include teacher’s aides.
Does my five years of service have to be at the same school?
No. Your five years of qualifying teaching service may be in different eligible low–income schools. If your five years of service wasn't at the same school, you must complete a separate application for each school. The specific name of the school must be listed. You can access the Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits to find out if your school is considered a low-income school.
What if I've had an interruption in my five years of teaching service?
There are some instances that aren't considered an interruption in the requirement of five complete, consecutive years of teaching service.
- You must have taught at least half of an academic term
- The school district must have considered your contract fulfilled for the purposes of salary increases, tenure and retirement
- AND you must be able to answer yes to one of the following exceptions:
- You returned to post-secondary education on at least a half-time basis in a program directly related to the performance of teaching service required for forgiveness.
- You had a condition covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA).
- You received an order to active duty status for more than 30 days as a member of a reserve component of the Armed Force.
What if my school is no longer designated as a low-income school?
If the school was designated as a qualifying low-income school when you began employment, all subsequent years continue to qualify even if the school doesn't currently meet the criteria.
If you're initially employed by a school that doesn't meet the criteria and the school later qualifies, your five years of qualifying service begins when the school meets the eligibility criteria.
Are schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) low-income schools?
Yes. Schools operated by the BIA are considered low-income schools for teacher loan forgiveness purposes.
What are the next steps if I'm eligible?
If you meet the eligibility requirements for teacher loan forgiveness, the next step is to complete the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application PDF. You and the chief administrative officer of the school where you performed your qualifying teaching service must complete the form. Once the form is complete, you'll need to send it to your lender.
Who's the chief administrative officer?
The chief administrative officer (CAO) is the official at your school (such as the principal, assistant principal or superintendent) who's responsible for supervising your employment as a teacher. The CAO also has access to records relating to your experience and qualifications for teaching. They must certify on the application that your teaching service met requirements for loan forgiveness for all five years.
How do I know how much I’m eligible for?
The total amount of loan forgiveness you may be eligible for depends on when your period of teaching service began, your qualifications and the type of teaching service you performed. You may not get more than the maximum loan forgiveness amount allowed for the same teaching service for both Stafford and Direct loans.
$5,000 in loan forgiveness
You may qualify for up to $5,000 in benefits for your qualified teaching service if:
- Your service began on or after Oct. 30, 2004, and you were a highly qualified full-time elementary or secondary school teacher.
- Your service began before Oct. 30, 2004, and you were:
- A full-time elementary school teacher who demonstrated knowledge and teaching skills in reading, writing, mathematics and other areas of elementary school curriculum; OR
- A full-time secondary school teacher who taught in a subject area relevant to your academic major.
$17,500 in loan forgiveness
You may qualify for up to $17,500 for your qualified teaching service if you served as:
- A highly qualified full-time mathematics or science teacher in an eligible secondary school OR
- A highly qualified special education teacher whose primary responsibility was to provide special education to children with disabilities. In addition, you must have taught children with disabilities that corresponded to your area of special education training, and demonstrated knowledge and teaching skills in the content areas of the curriculum you were teaching.
How will the loan forgiveness payment be applied?
Unless you instruct otherwise, your loan servicerloan servicerloan servicer will apply the payment received first to any outstanding unsubsidized Stafford loan balances, then to any outstanding subsidized Stafford loan balances and finally to any eligible outstanding consolidation loan balances.
You're not eligible for refunds on payments already made on your loan.
If I don't qualify now but expect to later, can I stop making payments on my loan?
You must make your regular monthly payments on your loan during the five years of teaching service. However, when the loan balance nears the benefit amount you qualify for, you may request a forbearance in annual increments during each of the years in which you perform your qualifying teaching service. A Teacher Loan Forgiveness Forbearance form PDF will need to be completed and submitted to your loan servicer.
Your loan servicer is required to grant this forbearance only if they believe the maximum forgiveness amount you're seeking will pay your loan balance in full at the end of your qualifying teaching service.
What are some terms I should know?
Academic year is:
- One complete school year at the same school, or
- Two complete and consecutive half-years* at different schools, or
- Two complete and consecutive half-years* from different school years, at either the same school or different schools.
- A minimum of nine months for schools operating in a year-round program of instruction.
*Half-years exclude summer and generally fall within a 12-month period.
Chief administrative officer is the official in your school (such as the principal or assistant principal) who's responsible for supervising your employment as a teacher and who has access to records relating to your experience and qualifications for teaching.
Elementary school is a public or nonprofit private school that provides elementary education as determined by state law or the U.S. Department of Education if that school isn't in a state.
Full-time means the standard used by a state in defining full-time employment as a teacher. If you teach in more than one school, full-time is based on the combination of all of your qualifying employment.
Forgiveness means that you're no longer responsible for repaying part or all of the loan, including interest, once you have performed qualifying teaching service.
Forgiveness forbearance means postponing loan payments until qualifying teaching service has been performed, if the maximum forgiveness amount will satisfy the anticipated outstanding balance.
Highly qualified teacher is a teacher in a public or nonprofit elementary or secondary school who has obtained a full state certification as a teacher (including certification obtained through alternative routes to certification) or passed the state teacher licensing examination and holds a license to teach in that state, except that, when used with respect to teaching in a public charter school. The term "charter school" means that the teacher meets the requirements set forth in the state’s public charter school law and has not had certification or licensure requirements waived on an emergency, temporary or provisional basis. In addition, the teacher must be one of the following:
- An elementary school teacher who's new to the teaching profession, holds a bachelor’s degree, and has demonstrated subject knowledge and teaching skills in reading, writing, mathematics and other areas of basic elementary school curriculum (which may consist of passing state-required certification or licensing test(s) in reading, writing, mathematics and other areas of the basic elementary school curriculum).
- A middle or secondary school teacher who's new to the profession, holds a bachelor’s degree, and has demonstrated a high level of competency in each of the their academic subjects (which may consist of passing a state-required certification or licensing test(s) in each of the academic subjects taught), or by successfully completing an academic major, graduate degree, coursework equivalent to an undergraduate degree or advanced certification/credentialing in each of the academic subjects being taught.
- An elementary, middle or secondary school teacher who isn't new to the profession, holds at least a bachelor’s degree, and meets the applicable standards of an elementary, middle or secondary school teacher who's new to the profession, or demonstrates competence in all academic subjects being taught based on a high objective uniform state standard of evaluation that meets all of the following criteria:
- Is set by the state for both grade appropriate academic subject matter knowledge and teaching skills.
- Is aligned with challenging state academic content and student academic achievement standards, and developed in consultation with core content specialists, teachers, principals and school administrators.
- Provides objective, coherent information about the teacher’s attainment of core content knowledge in the academic subjects being taught.
- Is applied uniformly to all teachers in the same academic subject and the same grade level throughout the state.
- Takes into consideration, but not based primarily on, the time the teacher has been teaching in the academic subject.
- Is made available to the public upon request.
- May involve multiple, objective measures of teacher competency.
Loans that are eligible for forgiveness are federal Stafford loans (subsidized and unsubsidized) and any portion of a federal consolidation loan that was used to pay off an eligible Stafford loan.
Secondary school is a public or nonprofit private school that provides secondary education as determined by state law or the U.S. Department of Education if the school is not in the state.
Special education means specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, at no cost to parents, including instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, as well as instruction in physical education, i.e., physical therapy.
Teacher means a person who provides direct classroom teaching or classroom-type teaching in a non-classroom setting, including special education teachers.
Qualifying school is an elementary or secondary school operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) or operated on an Indian reservation by an Indian tribal group under contract with the BIA, or a school that meets all of the following criteria:
- Is in a school district that qualifies for funds under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended.
- Has been selected by the U. S. Department of Education based on a determination that more than 30 percent of the school’s total enrollment is made up of children who qualify for service provided under Title I.
- Is listed in the Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits.
Where can I find more information about the program?
More details about the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program can be found on the U. S. Department of Education's website.
Are there other teacher loan forgiveness programs?
- The Teacher Shortage Employment Incentive Program (TSEIP) is a legislative program that reimburses teachers for eligible student loan expenses or pays an equivalent cash benefit to individuals who graduate from an Oklahoma accredited teacher education program, receive teaching certification in mathematics or science and agree to teach in an Oklahoma public secondary school for at least five years. Visit CashForTeachingOK.org for more information.
- The Financial Reimbursement for Educational Expenses Act (FREEA) of 2007 authorizes state agencies to make loan repayments on behalf of state employees, up to $5,000 per year with a cumulative limit of $15,000. The repayments are discretionary for the agencies. There are certain conditions and required continued employment provisions apply. Ask your agency if they participate. You can view the full text of the FREAA citation online (click on 'Next Section' link in the red header to view all the text).
- The American Federation of Teachers maintains a list of other forgiveness programs for student loans.