The making and servicing of federal loans issued under Title 4 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended, 20 U.S.C. 1070 et seq., is governed by the HEA and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder. Under the terms of the promissory note and the applicable laws governing student loans, a borrower is obligated to pay the full amount of principal and interest owed or have his or her loan(s) discharged pursuant to a specific discharge provision under the HEA. One such discharge provision is Teacher Loan Forgiveness. The Teacher Loan Forgiveness ("TLF") Program was created by the Higher Education Amendments of 1998, which amended the HEA. This program was created by Congress and the terms of the program are further defined by federal regulations.
The following is a list of the most common questions, mistakes, and issues encountered on the application for Teacher Loan Forgiveness. Please note that the current form has an expiration date of 2017. All eligibility requirements that must be met are listed in Sections 7-10 of the application. Incomplete applications will be returned to you for corrections or resubmission of a new application. If you have additional questions, please contact us.
- You must have completed five consecutive academic years as a classroom teacher at a Title 1 School. If an application is submitted before the five years of service is completed, it cannot be processed.
- Pre-1998 Loans: As one of the eligibility criteria for the program, forgiveness is only available to a borrower that had no outstanding balance on a Direct Loan or FFEL program loan on October 1, 1998, or on the date that he or she obtained a Direct Loan or FFEL program loan after October 1, 1998. You may view your federal student loans online via the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS, www.nslds.ed.gov).
- Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) certification: The application must be certified in Section 5 by the CAO after the 5 years of teaching are completed. The CAO is the official who has access to employment records that establish your eligibility for loan forgiveness in accordance with the requirements explained on the form, and who is authorized to verify your qualifying employment at a school or by an educational service agency. Depending on your employer, the chief administrative officer may be a superintendent, a human resources official or other school district or educational service agency official, or a principal or assistant principal. Make sure the CAO lists his/her title.
- Teaching Dates: The dates of teaching service must include the month, day, and year of the beginning and ending dates of your teaching service. Do not use "present", "current", or a future date. If you are still teaching, use the date the CAO signed the application as the ending date.
- Directory of Low-Income Schools: Your school must have been on the "Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits (Title I list)" at least the first year you taught there. To determine if your school is on the Title I list, do an internet search for "Teacher Cancellation Low Income Directory." Enter your state, the year you started teaching, and the name of your school. If your school was not on the list the year you started teaching, you must have taught for 5 consecutive years after it was added to the list.
- If you have not completed the five qualifying years and wish to postpone your payments until the five years are completed, and the balance of your loan(s) is less than the dollar amount of the loan forgiveness you are requesting, you may be eligible for a Teacher Loan Forgiveness Forbearance. This forbearance form is located on the forms page. It must be submitted each year until the five years are completed. You may then apply for Teacher Loan Forgiveness.
- Your account will be approved for an "administrative forbearance" for 60 days beginning on the date your application is received. This forbearance is to allow time for processing. You are not required to make payments during this time, but you may do so if you choose.
- Multiple Schools: If you taught at more than one school, a separate application for each school will be needed, including appropriate dates and signatures.
- Secondary School Teachers: A secondary school is a public or nonprofit private school that provides secondary education as determined by state law or, if the school is not in a state, by the Department of Education.
- Processing Time: The entire process usually takes 2-3 months. You will be notified as soon as a determination is reached.
- Applications Received by Fax: You may fax your application, but if the fax is not clearly legible, it will be returned to you and you will need to submit a legible application. Our fax number may be found on our contact us page.
If you are not eligible for Teacher Loan Forgiveness, you may be eligible for other discharge or forgiveness programs. For example, under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program, you may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance due on your eligible federal student loans after you have made 120 payments on those loans under certain repayment plans while employed full time by certain public service employers.