In an effort to ensure school districts are able to attract and retain qualified teachers, President Bush signed the Higher Education Reconciliation Act (HERA) of 2005. The act authorizes up to $17,500 in student loan forgiveness for certain math, science, and special education teachers. The HERA also authorizes up to $5,000 for federal loan borrowers (after October 1998) who have taught for five consecutive years in an eligible low-income school.
To be eligible for the HERA, secondary math and science teachers and elementary and secondary special education teachers must meet the “highly qualified” teacher definition under the No Child Left Behind Act. Special education teachers must also have a primary responsibility to provide special education services to children with disabilities.
Educators who do not teach in the specialties noted above, began teaching after October 30, 2004, and meet the “highly qualified” teacher definition under NCLB are eligible for a $5,000 loan forgiveness. Those who began teaching prior to Oct. 30, 2004, are not required to meet the “highly qualified” definition.
Applications for loan forgiveness benefits are available from loan servicers or in the Personnel Department at the J.C. Rice Educational Services Center, next to Memorial High School.
The following rules apply to all applicants for Teacher Loan Forgiveness benefits:
· A teacher seeking student loan forgiveness must be a new borrower, (after Oct. 1, 1998.)
· Eligible loans include Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Direct Stafford/Ford Loans, and any portion of a Federal Consolidation Loan or Federal Direct Consolidation Loan that was used to pay off one of these eligible loans.
· The loan cannot be in default status.
· A teacher must have taught for five consecutive years in an eligible, low-income school. A low-income school is defined as one that: qualifies for Title 1 funds; has been selected by the Secretary of Education because more than 30 percent of its student population live in low-income homes; is listed in the Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits.
Additional information on repaying student loans and on the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program is available at www.studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/cancelstaff.jsp?tab-repaying. Teachers may also contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at (800) 4-FED-AID.