“A good teacher is like a candle: it consumes itself to light the way for others” – Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.  It is unfortunate that student loan forgiveness for teachers is such an uphill battle. NPR wrote an in-depth piece about the struggle facing teachers with student loan debt.  Some of the distressing comments from teachers included, “I am overloaded and struggling. It’s terrifying” and “I feel like I’ll be making the last payment from my grave.”  As the article points out, if you are a teacher trying to lower your student loan debt – you do face obstacles that other professionals do not.  Some of these obstacles are very low wages for teachers, the high cost and necessity for graduate degrees, as well as confusing and uncertain repayment and forgiveness options.  With all of these obstacles, it’s no wonder why teachers are seeking help with student loan debt.

You can watch our video for this blog post below or continue reading below:

Student Loan Forgiveness Programs For Teachers

student loan forgiveness programs for teachers with debt

There are student loan forgiveness options for teachers depending on if the loans are private or federal.  For federal student loan debt relief, you can take advantage of one of the below teacher student loan forgiveness programs, but not at the same time.  For teachers who have tried one of these programs and haven’t been able to keep up with payments, keep reading to learn about teacher student loan forgiveness help.

  • Income-Based Repayment Plans – these plans help teachers get student loan debt help by establishing the monthly payments due based on your income and the size of your family.
  • Perkins Loan Cancellation for Teachers – you can get 100% teacher loan forgiveness with this program if you qualify by teaching full-time at a lower income school, teaching in a field where there is a shortage of qualified teachers or teaching special education. Check the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid’s website for more details.
  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness – offer teachers up to $17,500 in teacher loan forgiveness if you have not defaulted on your loan and teach at a low-income school for 5 consecutive years.
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness – According to the Department of Education, the remaining balance a loan can be forgiven if “120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.”

*  I feel that it must be pointed out that the future of student loan forgiveness for teachers is unclear with possible changes on the horizon from the Trump administration.  It’s important to keep up with changes in the Department of Education policies if you have federal student loans.

For private student loan debt relief, student loan forgiveness options for teachers are far different.  Private student loans are treated like credit card debt.  You can try to consolidate your loans or contact your lender and ask for a lower interest rate.  If you miss payments for more than 3 months on your private student loans, then your loan is considered in “default”.  Defaulted on loans are often sold to 3rd parties.  Or the private student loans that you take out with your lender (for instance Navient or National Collegiate Student Loan Trust) might be passed over to another entity to collect the student loan debt.  This can be confusing if you are receiving payment notifications from an entity who you did not take the loan out from.  Unfortunately, even if your debt is passed over to a new entity, you still owe the debt.


To stay on top of your loan payments, I suggest reading my blog What To Do About Student Loans After Graduation.



Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness Help

Teacher student loan forgiveness help is out there, but you need to be careful to watch out for scams and do your research.  The student loan debt crisis has inspired all sorts of scammers to take advantage of consumers in distressed financial situations, as I outline in my blog Beware of Those Making Money Off the Student Loan Debt Crisis.  There is also this recent article in USA Today, “Don’t Fall Victim to Debt Relief Companies,” which are different from debt relief law firms.  As a debt relief attorney, I will have my license to practice law taken away if I don’t adhere to ethical and legal standards under the law.  I often help clients navigate through the process of getting into one of the above mentioned federal student loan programs, but anyone can take the steps and go it alone.  However, what happens when you fall behind on your federal or private student loans and they go into default?

If a teacher can’t make their federal student loan payments, the first step is to call on your loan servicer and see if you can qualify for hardship exemptions, forbearances, or deferments.  If you don’t and you have missed making payments for over 270 days, then your loan will be considered in default.  In this case, your best option to get your student loan out of default with a loan rehabilitation.  For example, a client of mine had defaulted on her federal student loan years ago and was about to get her federal tax refund taken away by the U.S. Dept. of Treasury to go toward paying her debt.  I was able to get her into a $5 per month loan rehabilitation that she will pay for 9 months. Then my client will enter into one of the aforementioned income-based repayment plans after her loan rehabilitation is over.  At this point, as long as she stays current with her income-based repayment plan, then all negative marks on her credit will be removed.

If a teacher can’t make their private student loan payments for 3 months and the loan goes into default, then – as with credit card debt – a lawsuit will eventually be brought against the teacher for non-payment.  I recommend debt settlement as a viable option if one has defaulted on their private student loans.  In a debt settlement the borrower (teacher) negotiates to pay back the lender their debt – but not the whole debt.  Instead, there is a settlement agreed to that the borrower will pay back a (usually greatly) reduced portion of the loan over a period of time rather than being responsible for the entire loan amount.  The banks/lenders can use the loss of your account to offset their profits with creative bookkeeping.  For instance, my client was in default and owed Navient $142,263.75 in private student loans.  I negotiated a debt settlement and knocked the owed debt down to $45,000.  So my client ended up saving $97,263.75.

I was recently interviewed by NBC news with Congresswoman Susan Davis about student loan programs and how the real winners are the debt collectors.  Between that and the uncertainty of what will happen with these programs under the new administration, these are trying times for those with student loan debt.   Although, as you can see from my student loan debt relief success stories, there are reasons to have hope and you do have options.   I offer a free debt consultation, so give me a call at 858-217-5051 if you have questions or submit an inquiry via the “As a Debt Question” page on my website.  And thank you to all of the teachers out there, because “Those who educate children well are more to be honored than they who produce them.” – Aristotle.


Daniel R. Gamez, an attorney focusing exclusively in debt relief, is licensed to practice in all state and federal courts in California and Texas. Mr. Gamez owns and operates the Gamez Law Firm in San Diego, CA. For more information, please contact Daniel Gamez at 858-217-5051, daniel@gamezlawfirm.com or use our online contact form. Stay updated with the latest debt relief tips by following on Facebook and Twitter!