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Navigating Your Student Debt

Degrees Not Debt!

Every Wisconsinite, no matter what we look like or where we come from, deserves the opportunity to create a better life for ourselves and for our families. For many of us going to college was supposed to allow us the ability to decide our futures, not be burdened with decades of debt. The staggering 1.6 trillion student debt crisis is a recent phenomenon. Half a century ago tuition was a fraction of what it is now even when adjusted for inflation. WEAC remains committed to helping you take advantage of ways to lessen the burden of student debt and save you money.

There are three federal loan forgiveness programs designed to assist educators with their student loan debt. WEAC continues to advocate for the State of Wisconsin to implement a state level loan forgiveness program as many other states have done.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF)

What is TLF?

TLF forgives up to $17,500 of your Direct or Federal Stafford Loans after five complete and consecutive years of teaching at a qualifying school.

Who is eligible for TLF?

To qualify for Teacher Loan Forgiveness, you must have been employed as a full-time teacher at an eligible school for five complete and consecutive academic years. At least one of those years must have been after the 1997–98 academic year. Certain highly qualified special education and secondary mathematics or science teachers can qualify for up to $17,500 in forgiveness. Other eligible teachers can qualify for up to $5,000. PLUS Loans and Perkins Loans are not eligible to be forgiven through this program. Any time you spent teaching to receive benefits through AmeriCorps cannot be counted toward your required five years of teaching for TLF.

To maximize your forgiveness amount, you can apply for a Teacher Loan Forgiveness Forbearance, which means you will not have to make monthly loan payments (however, interest will still accrue). Borrowers who have a loan balance that is greater than the TLF amount they are applying (either $17,5000 or $5,000) for are not eligible for this forbearance type.

You apply for TLF after you have completed the five-year teaching requirement. Learn more about the TLF Program.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

What is PSLF?

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program was created in 2007 in recognition of the many ways public service workers make our communities, and our nation, better. The program forgives the remaining balance of federal student debt for public service workers, including teachers, higher education faculty, and education support professionals who provide 10 years of public service while making 120 monthly payments on their federal student loans.

When the first borrowers became eligible for forgiveness, the former presidential administration prioritized profits for big banks over keeping the promise of PSLF. They denied over 90 percent of applications forcing public service workers to continue making payments on student loans that should have been forgiven. Due to efforts by the Biden Administration the program was overhauled fixing a number of technicalities. This has allowed hundreds of thousands of educators to become eligible for loan forgiveness sooner or even immediately.

Who is eligible for PSLF?

Any person employed full-time (30 hours or more per week) by a public service employer is eligible for loan forgiveness. This includes all public-school districts and public and non-profit higher education institutions. It covers teachers, education support professionals, specialized instructional support personnel, and higher education faculty including adjunct.

To be eligible for PSLF you must be enrolled in the income-driven repayment plan. You may even qualify for a $0 monthly payment.

How do I apply for PSLF?

First, every individual should go to studentaid.gov and login with your Federal Student Aid ID (or create one if you do not have one) to make sure your contact information is up to date. The Department of Education uses this as their primary method of contact to reach you about your student loans.

If you have a Direct Loan and believe you have made 120 payments and you have applied for PSLF you will receive automatic forgiveness or updates about your payment count.

If you have a Direct Loan and have not applied for PSLF visit the help tool page to access the U.S. Department of Education’s PSLF application.

If you have worked for multiple public service employers since October 2007, you will need to fill out an application for every single employer which includes an employer(s)’s signature on each completed form. Submit the applications(s) to MOHELA, the student loan servicer that manages the PSLF program.

Perkins Loan Cancellation for Teachers

What is Perkins Loan Cancellation for Teachers?

Perkins Loan Cancellation forgives up to 100% of your Federal Perkins Loan(s) if you teach full-time at a low-income school or if you teach certain subjects. This program can only forgive your Federal Perkins Loans. Visit your dashboard to check if you have Perkins Loans.

Who is eligible for Perkins Loan Cancellation?

If you hold Perkins Loans and teach in a low-income school you are likely eligible for this program. Up to 100% of the loan(s) may be canceled for teaching service, in the following increments:

  • 15% canceled per year for the first and second years of service,
  • 20% canceled for the third and fourth years,
  • 30% canceled for the fifth year,
  • Each amount canceled per year includes the interest that accrued during the year.

To find out if your school is classified as a low-income school, check the online database for the year(s) you’ve been employed as a teacher.

Even if you don’t teach at a low-income school, you may qualify if you teach mathematics, science, foreign languages, bilingual or special education, or a different subject determined by your state education agency to have a shortage of qualified teachers in your state. Visit Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction to see if your subject area is considered a shortage area.