Private Student Loans for 2024
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Student Loan Forgiveness for Teachers

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Content was accurate at the time of publication.

Teaching doesn’t always pay that well — but depending on how you borrowed, where you live and what you teach, you might be eligible for student loan forgiveness.

Here’s everything you need to know about student loan forgiveness for teachers. We hope that our guide will lead you to a program that will lead you to a debt-free life.

On this page:

Federal student loan forgiveness for teachers

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

 Best for: Teachers who are on an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan, don’t qualify for Teacher Loan Forgiveness (see below) and don’t work at a low-income school

How much it’s worth: 100% of your federal Direct loan balance after 10 years of repayment

How long it takes: 120 qualified payments (which takes 10 years)


  • Must work full time for an eligible employer (federal, state, local or tribal government organization or eligible not-for-profit organizations)
  • Must make 120 qualifying federal student loan payments
  • Stafford and Perkins loans must be consolidated before they qualify
  • Must not be in default
  • Must be on an eligible repayment plan (Standard Repayment Plan for Direct Consolidation, Graduated Repayment Plan and the Extended Repayment Plan do not qualify)

What to keep in mind: Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) isn’t just for teachers — rather, anyone with Direct loans who works in the government or nonprofit sector could qualify. After 120 eligible payments, your remaining Direct loan balance will be forgiven.

PSLF benefits borrowers on an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan more so than those on the 10-year standard repayment plan. That’s because on the standard plan, you’d have nothing left to forgive after 120 eligible payments (if you made all your payments on time and in full).

Only monthly payments paid in full and made while working with an eligible employer count toward PSLF. On the plus side, you don’t need to pay these consecutively, but you should recertify every year or when you switch employers.

Note also that any payments not made during the 2020-23 COVID-19 payment pause may still count toward your PSLF total. Speak to your student loan servicer to find out more.

Where to apply:’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) tool



Our Public Service Loan Forgiveness calculator will give you an idea of how much of your loans will be forgiven after 120 eligible payments (and which IDRs may help you maximize your PSLF forgiveness).

Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF)

 Best for: Teachers who aren’t working towards PSLF and have a small to moderate amount of Direct or Stafford student loan debt

How much it’s worth: Up to $17,500

How long it takes: Five consecutive years


  • Teach five complete and consecutive years in a low-income school
  • Must be considered “highly qualified,” usually meaning you hold a bachelor’s degree and a teaching certificate
  • Must have taught at least one year after the 1997-98 school year
  • Loans eligible for forgiveness must have been taken out before the end of the borrowers’ five consecutive years of service
  • Must not be in default
  • Must have no outstanding student loans originated prior to Oct. 1, 1998

What to keep in mind: The Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF) program offers $17,500 in student loan forgiveness for those that teach special education, as well as secondary math or science. All other full-time teachers can qualify for up to $5,000 in forgiveness.

Teachers must work for five full, consecutive school years before they qualify, and must teach in a low-income school. Check out the Teacher Cancellation Low Income (TCLI) Directory to see if your school qualifies.

Where to apply: Fill out the TLF application after five years of qualifying employment and turn it in to your loan servicer

Perkins loan cancellation for teachers

 Best for: Eligible teachers with outstanding Perkins loans

How much it’s worth: Up to 100% of the borrower’s Perkins loan balance

How long it takes: Five years for 100% forgiveness

Requirements (must meet at least one, not all):

  • Teach in a low-income public or nonprofit elementary or secondary school
  • Teach math, science, foreign languages, bilingual education or special education
  • Teach in a field that has a shortage of qualified teachers in your state

What to keep in mind: If you demonstrated an extreme financial need, you may have qualified for and taken out a federal Perkins loan (at least until 2017, the year the Perkins loan program ended). Perkins loans have a few perks, including cancellation options for teachers, early childhood educators and other professions.

Perkins loan cancellation happens incrementally. After each full year of teaching at an eligible school or teaching an eligible subject, a percentage of your balance will be forgiven:

  • First year: 15%
  • Second year: 15%
  • Third year: 20%
  • Fourth year: 20%
  • Fifth year: 30%

Where to apply: Contact the school that provided your Perkins loan (or its servicer) for forms and instructions.

 Are you an aspiring teacher?

If you’re thinking about (or in the process of) getting your teaching certificate, you should check out the TEACH grant. If you agree to work in a low-income school district for four years or more, you may get up to $4,000 a year in grant money to help fund your education.

Depending on where you live, you might also be eligible for a state-funded grant. Unlike loans, you won’t need to repay grants (as long as you fulfill any employment agreements tied to the grant). Speak to your college’s financial aid office or the head of your education department to learn what could be available to you.

Combining student loan forgiveness programs

Can you sign up for multiple loan forgiveness programs for teachers? Yes. Well, kind of — it depends on timing.

If you qualify for both PSLF and TLF, you can’t apply payments (or employment periods) to both programs at once. In other words, if you work five years at an eligible school and get a portion of your loan balance forgiven through TLF, you can’t apply the payments you made during those five years toward PSLF.

Still, some borrowers with high loan amounts can get both TLF and PSLF — though it will take 15 years. Let’s say that you earn $5,000 in forgiveness through TLF. If you’re eligible, you could make 120 eligible payments afterwards and earn PSLF in another 10 years.

Note that in the example above, you could still get total forgiveness in 10 years if you start with PSLF instead.

In addition, Perkins loan borrowers might be considering consolidating them for PSLF. However, this may not be the best choice for everyone. Consolidated Perkins loans aren’t eligible for Perkins loans cancellation. So if you’re pursuing Perkins loan cancellation and PSLF for your Direct loans, you need to keep these loans separate to get the benefit of both programs.

Alternatives to student loan forgiveness

Income-driven repayment (IDR) plans

The bad news: Income-driven repayment plans generally take longer than other loan forgiveness programs for teachers. But the good news is that if you have a remaining balance after completing your income-driven repayment plan, it’ll be forgiven.

IDRs are also integral to fully take advantage of PSLF. IDRs can drastically reduce your required monthly student loan payment (potentially making it easier to make eligible PSLF payments). They can also help ensure you have a remaining balance to forgive after your repayment term.

However, keep in mind that if you’re on an IDR, you might pay more interest over the life of your loan than if you paid over 10 years on the Standard Repayment Plan.

Student loan refinancing

Unfortunately, private student loan forgiveness is very rare, even for teachers. But if you’re struggling to pay your private student loans (either due to high interest rates or because you’re juggling multiple private student loan bills), you may want to consider refinancing.

If your credit is better now than it was when you initially took out your private student loan (or if you have a creditworthy cosigner), you might get a lower interest rate by refinancing. See what rates you could qualify for from our top refinance lenders to see if this path is right for you.


Attention federal student loan borrowers

It’s possible to refinance federal student loans to convert them into private ones — but we don’t recommend it. Federal student loans come with borrower benefits that aren’t present on most private loans, including income-driven repayment plans, forbearance and forgiveness.

State programs that offer student loan forgiveness for teachers

Your state might offer programs that forgive student loans for teachers. Click the interactive map below to see what could be available to you.

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