The most certain way to qualify for student loan forgiveness is to work as a teacher, in the public service sector or for a nonprofit organization.
If you are a full-time teacher for five consecutive years in a designated elementary or secondary school or educational service agency serving students from low-income families, you can qualify for up to $5,000 (up to $17,500 for elementary/secondary special education teachers and secondary math and science teachers) of the total loan amount outstanding after completion of the fifth year of teaching.
Though note that graduate students and parents of students who hold PLUS Loans do not qualify. Loans with balances taken out prior to October 1998 are not eligible, and your five years of consecutive teaching must have commenced after October 1998.
The teacher loan-forgiveness application is available here.
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For Perkins loans holders, cancellation of up to 100 percent of a loan may be granted if you have served full-time in a public or nonprofit elementary or secondary school system as a teacher in a school serving students from low-income families; or are a special education teacher, including teachers of infants, toddlers, children, or youth with disabilities; or a teacher in the fields of mathematics, science, foreign languages or bilingual education, or in any other field of expertise determined by a state education agency to have a shortage of qualified teachers in that state. The following formula applies to the cancellation scheduled:
- 15 percent canceled per year for the first and second years of service.
- 20 percent canceled for the third and fourth years.
- 30 percent canceled for the fifth year.