While a college degree is well worth the money, student loans can give anyone the blues. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, student loan debt is more than $1.2 trillion and continues to rise. For many younger Americans, it has become the largest household debt.
The Department of Education offers forgiveness programs to help borrowers with student loan debt. These programs include the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program. Both programs are designed to alleviate the student loan burden.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
This program is available to borrowers who work full time in public service jobs. Federal, state and local government jobs qualify, as do jobs with tax-exempt nonprofits.
In addition, you may qualify if you work for certain private nonprofit employers that are not tax-exempt. These include:
- Emergency management, military service, public safety or law enforcement services.
- Public health services.
- Public education or public library services.
- School library and other school-based services.
- Public interest law services.
- Early childhood education.
- Public service for individuals with disabilities and the elderly.
Borrowers are required to make 120 qualified payments before they are eligible for forgiveness of the remaining loan balance.
Loans received under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program are eligible for the program. Other types of student loans are not eligible. However, if you have other loans but later consolidate these loans into the direct loan program, you may still be able to qualify for loan forgiveness.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
This program is available to teachers who teach full time for five complete and consecutive years at certain elementary and secondary schools, and other qualified educational institutions that serve low-income individuals.
If you meet these and other qualifications, you may be eligible for forgiveness of up to $17,500 in loans. Qualifying loans include direct subsidized loans, direct unsubsidized loans, subsidized federal Stafford loans and unsubsidized federal Stafford loans.
To find out if the school at which you teach qualifies, visit the Teacher Cancellation Low-Income Directory. For more information about both loan forgiveness programs, visit the Department of Education's federal student aid website.