The federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program was introduced to encourage people to enter the teaching profession -- and stay there. Qualifying for this program is an advantage for a teacher, because they may have a portion, or the entire amount, of their student loan forgiven. To qualify, teachers must work at a Title 1 school -- generally a school in a low-income area. Teachers that are unsure whether their school qualifies can check to see if their school is eligible for a Title 1 loan forgiveness program.

Call or write the financial institution that gave you your student loan to verify what type of student loan you have. Only federal Stafford and federal Perkins loans qualify for student loan forgiveness. Stafford loans must have an origination date on or after Oct. 1, 1998. Perkins loans have to be originated on or after July 1, 1987.

Gather and review your teaching records to confirm your length of full-time teaching employment. If you have a Stafford loan you have to complete five consecutive years as a full-time teacher. At least one of these years of full-time employment has to be after the 1997-to-1998 school year. If you have a Perkins loan, one year of full-time employment as a teacher is required.

Speak to your school principal to determine if your school qualifies for the loan forgiveness program. For the school to qualify it must be an elementary or secondary school located in a school district that has been identified by the Department of Education as having more than 30 percent of children qualify for Title 1 services. An elementary or secondary school also qualifies if it is operated by the Bureau of Indian Education. Elementary or secondary schools operated on reservations by Native American tribal groups that have contracts with the Bureau of Indian Education qualify as well.

Enter the state, school name, and years of employment into the Department of Education database to complete an online search to confirm that your school is eligible. If you do not see your school listed or you have questions, contact the state education agency for that particular state.

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