Teacher Loan Forgiveness
Federal teacher loan forgiveness applies to the following student loans: Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans, and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans. The federal teacher loan forgiveness program is available to classroom teachers who serve for five consecutive years in a designated low income school or educational service agency. The low income designation applies to any school or educational service agency with greater than 30% poverty among its students for a school year. If a school is enrolled in the federal Free and Reduced Price Lunch (FRPL) program, FRPL is used to determine poverty. Schools and educational service agencies that do not use FRPL (such as those serving special needs students) who wish to determine eligibility as a low income school should contact NYSED's Office of Information and Reporting Services at (518) 474-7965 or submit a datasupport ticket with the heading "Teacher Loan Forgiveness."
Low income schools are listed by school year in the Teacher Cancellation Low Income (TCLI) directory. Student loan servicing companies such as Navient and Nelnet, as well as university-based lenders such as SUNY or Syracuse University, rely on the TCLI directory to verify a school’s low income status.
Guidelines for teacher loan forgiveness, as well as a link to the teacher loan forgiveness application, can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.
In addition to the minimum five years of service in a low income school, the school must be a designated Title I school. Title I status can be found here.
How to apply for teacher loan forgiveness:
- In your fifth (or greater) consecutive year of teaching in a designated low-income school, verify that your school(s) appear in the TCLI directory for all five years.
**Note: The New York portion of the TCLI directory is typically updated in the summer AFTER the school year (e.g. for 2015-16, New York State schools were added in August 2016).
- Download the teacher loan forgiveness form from the Federal Student Aid website listed above.
- Obtain required signature(s) from your principal, superintendent, or school leader by the end of your fifth (or greater) year of teaching. If you taught in more than one low income school during your five consecutive years of service, enter information for the most recent school on the application (Section 5) and attach a letter from the principal, superintendent, or school leader for each prior school.
- As soon as your school appears in the TCLI directory for the fifth year, you may submit your application.
- Mail the application to your lender (Navient, NelNet, SUNY, etc.) NYSED does not receive or process teacher loan forgiveness applications.
**Note: Your teacher loan forgiveness application must have the EXACT same name as appears in the TCLI. If it differs, there is a risk that your lender will not find your school in the directory and your application will be denied.
Stand-alone preschools, Headstart programs, and most jail programs do NOT qualify as institutions for teacher loan forgiveness. Teachers in these programs may choose to seek loan forgiveness through the federal public service loan forgiveness program.
Special instructions for teachers in New York City schools:
- District 75 (special education) schools: as of 2012-13, all District 75 schools participate in the community eligibility option of FRPL, which means that all of these schools qualify for the low income status. In the location section of the TCLI, District 75 schools’ location is listed as NYC CENTRAL OFFICE.
- Leave out the “x,” “m,” “q,” etc. distinction after the school name (ex: instead of PS 123x, use PS 123). These letters used to indicate borough location are local designations and are not used for the formal names of schools in the TCLI directory.
- Locations in the TCLI directory are usually county names. However, for some years NYC schools are listed by borough name. In an initial search, it is often best to enter the school name but leave the “location” blank (see more tips on searching the TCLI directory below).
- To certify employment in NYC, teachers may be required to go to the district office rather than have the principal sign the TLF form.
Frequently asked questions:
Q: I have taught in more than one low-income school in the past five years. Do I still qualify?
A: Service in more than one school during the five year period is acceptable as long as each school appears in the TCLI directory for the specific school years the teacher was employed as a full-time classroom teacher.
Q: In my school district, only the elementary school is listed in the TCLI directory, not the middle and high schools. Why?
A: For a district that is just moving into low-income status, it is often the case that the elementary school(s) become eligible first, followed over the next few years by the middle and high schools, as the student population moves through the grades.
Q: I am a preschool teacher in an elementary school or special education preschool. Do I qualify?
A: If you meet the qualifications for a highly qualified teacher, you may apply for teacher loan forgivness. NYSED defers to each lender's determination on teacher loan forgiveness applications of preschool teachers.
Q: I am an assistant principal or a school guidance counselor. Do I qualify?
A: For teacher loan forgiveness of federal Stafford loans, only teachers qualify. A teacher is defined as a person who provides direct classroom teaching, or classroom-type teaching in a non-classroom setting. Rules differ for federal Perkins loan cancellation; see below.
Q: I am a teaching assistant or paraprofessional. Do I qualify?
A: No. Teacher loan forgiveness is available to teachers, who must meet the highly qualified requirement.
Q: I teach at the college level. Do I qualify?
A: No. The federal teacher loan forgiveness program is open to K-12 (and some Pre-K, as described above) teachers only.
Q: What if my school moves out of low income status within my first five years of teaching?
A: If your school meets the above requirements for at least one year of your teaching service, but does not meet these requirements during subsequent years, your subsequent years of teaching at the school may be counted toward the required five complete and consecutive academic years of teaching.
Q: I am certain that my school is considered low income, but when I enter the school name in the TCLI directory search, it does not appear.
A: If your search does not return a result, look up the school in the State Education Department Reference File (SEDREF). The formal names listed in SEDREF are the source for the school names that go into the TCLI directory. There may be abbreviations such as HS for high school or INTL for international.
Q: I am looking for a job as a teacher in a low income school. How can I use the TCLI directory to support my job search?
A: If you are not familiar with school names in your geographic area, you can search by location. Leave the school or educational service agency name blank, and enter the county (or NYC borough) name. For populous counties, this may return up to hundreds of results, but you will be able to narrow your choices based on the grade level at which you wish to teach (e.g. elementary, middle, high school). Special education teachers may also wish to search schools designated as "Special School."
Q: I do not teach in a low income school. Are there other loan forgiveness options?
A: You may qualify for federal public service loan forgiveness.
TEACH grant certification:
If you received a TEACH grant, you will be required to certify employment as a classroom teacher in a low income school annually. As with teacher loan forgiveness, the TCLI directory is the source for verification of a school’s low income status. If your certification is due before the current school year is listed in the TCLI directory, lenders should certify based on the previous year’s directory. More information about TEACH grants can be found here.
Federal Perkins loan cancellation:
This type of loan forgiveness applies only to Federal Perkins Loans. Perkins loan cancellation has similar criteria to teacher loan forgiveness, but applies to a greater range of teachers, including special education teachers of infants and toddlers. For more information, see the Teacher Cancellation section at the Federal Student Aid website.
Tips on searching the TCLI directory:
- The TCLI directory is organized by school, NOT by district.
- Less is more: For an initial search, use the first one or two words of the school name. Leave the location blank.
- If you are looking for all low income schools in a particular county, leave school name blank and enter county name.
- If your search does not return results, visit the SEDREF portal to verify the school’s formal name.
Teacher Cancellation Low Income (TCLI) Directory
Federal list of low-income schools and educational service agencies
Federal Student Aid
Teacher loan forgiveness: Stafford
Teacher loan cancellation: Perkins
Federal Student Aid
Federal Student Aid
Public service loan forgiveness
Title I schools
Table containing Title I school status
State Education Department Reference File (SEDREF)
Online database of NYSED institutions