Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Teacher Loan Forgiveness... or Unfairness?

It sounds like a great program, right? With all the dedicated underpaid teachers who work many more hours over what our salary is worth, teachers deserve a break right? And it's not to say that we hate our job, or that other professions are not important. We truly love and care about our students. Teachers are missionaries, as someone once told me.

When I heard about the teacher loan forgiveness program, I was truly excited. You can receive forgiveness of $5000 off student loans for teaching 5 years in a Title 1 School. For teaching science math, or special education can receive forgiveness up to $17,500. "Why didn't I teach Math?", I said. But certainly with a lifetime of $12,000 of loans, minus $5000, the benefit of that math was no question.

So I waited until the right time to turn my application in. I met all the eligibility requirements, or so I thought. One requirement is that you must be highly qualified, meaning being certified in your state or pass the licensing examination. Another requirement, is that you must have taught 5 consecutive years in a Title 1 School and started teaching before 2004.

I received my notification letter a few days ago. It said I did not qualify because I had loans before October 1, 1998. My first loan was received in September 1998. What does that October date have to do with anything. Why did you have to wait til after October 1998 to begin your studies as a teacher. Are the younger teachers more worthy of the loan than the older? The majority of my loan was spent on earning a master's degree. Only 1/8 of the balance was spent on my bachelor's before 1998.

So frustrated, as I was I decided to do some research on this. I checked the original application. under eligibility requirements. "To qualify for up to $500 loan forgiveness... you must not have had an outstanding balance on a FFEL or Direct Loan as of October 1, 1998. "Outstanding balance," well what the heck does that mean? I have never missed a loan payment, even though I was a student before 1998, and not required to pay on my loan then before graduation. I also checked the history of my student loans to see what was paid to me and when. I also checked for the documentation for the enactment. I also checked to see if anyone else's application had been turned down. I was relieved to know, that I was not the only one feeling the frustration. I found this thread at Teachers.net.

So I ask you, what to do next. I will not stand aside, without my voice and others being heard. America's gas prices are too high! Our jobs are being lost. Our teachers are overworked and unappreciated!

46 Comments:

  • At 3:18 PM, Blogger Wanda said…

    My sentiments exactly. I taught 1st and 2nd grades for 17 years then transitioned into the library media center while studying for my MLS. I have outstanding loans, have never missed a payment and am struggling to make ends meet. Surely there are more folks in NC who could use a loan forgiveness right now. Any suggestions...comments???

     
  • At 12:36 AM, Blogger qemuel said…

    I am consistently disappointed by how poorly we treat our teachers. I hope you eventually receive the break you deserve, and take solace in the fact that you and other teachers ARE appreciated for the hard work you do.

     
  • At 6:38 AM, Blogger Maggie Kate Moran said…

    Lisa,

    I am investigating the loan forgiveness and have run up against the same discrimination as you. When I first inquired about loan forgiveness for special educaition teachers, I was told it was only for low income schools. Now that it appears the teacher shortage area does not have to be low income, I find that I do not qualify because of the outstanding loan! Had I known about this, I would have paid my outstanding debt before I took out the loans for my certification in special ed. How did they come up with these eligibility rules? I would love to see if there is any group that is challenging this inequity!

     
  • At 6:53 AM, Blogger Samir said…

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for posting this. I taught special education in Madison, NC for 5 years. I also started a masters at UNCG in special education. I was so excited about this program to pay off my loans, many of which were taken out in graduate school.

    So I was absolutely disappointed when I got the same news as you. I too started undergraduate in Aug 1998, when my first loan was taken out. Like you, I was denied.

    I've considered trying to pay off all my loans (zero balance) and then take out a new one (since I'm still a special education teacher at a low income school). However, I'm not sure that would work.

    If you find out anything more about this, please let me know.

    Jennifer

     
  • At 10:20 PM, Blogger academiannut said…

    What I love is that there are programs to help a little bit if you are a teacher who took out loans before 1993 and then there is this great program if you started after October, 1998. But there is ZERO relief for teachers who started school in between those two times.

    I teach special ed. in a low income school but because I took out my first loan in 1995, I don't qualify for either program. Terribly frustrating.

     
  • At 10:21 PM, Blogger academiannut said…

    To be fair . . . I'm not sure I'd qualify for this program anyway. I think one of the requirements is that you begin teaching before 2004? I started in 2004 so maybe it wouldn't apply to me.

     
  • At 12:52 PM, Blogger paula said…

    I graduated in May 1993 with a business degree. April 2010 I have been accepted into a Masters of Education for Intervention Specialist (special education) with licensure. I was excited thinking this would help. Now I am worried. I used Stafford loans to pay for undergrad degree from 1990-1993. Consolidated in 1995 paid completely off in 2003. So does this mean I don't qualify???? Would really like to know before I count on it. psollenberger@gmail.com if anyone can send me an answer

     
  • At 10:47 AM, Blogger kim said…

    I have been paying on student loans for 19 years. I have had hardship after hardship, and I have had deferments during these times. I began oweing 17,000. What so sad, is I still owe 14,000. I have taught for 6 years in a 2 different low income schools, and I teach special education. Yet I don't qualify for the forgiveness because my loans were between 1990 and 1991. I believe this forgivenss deadline is is totally unfair.

     
  • At 7:14 PM, Blogger Irene said…

    I have also been a teacher for 13years and I thought I was going to get help repaying my loans. I still owe $22,000. I think Ill probably die first and maybe then my loans will be payed off. We need help. Does any one know what we can do? Please help teachers are in debt.

     
  • At 3:24 AM, Blogger vishal said…

    ARE YOU FED UP BY SEARCHING FOR A GOOD COLLEGE AND GOOD EDUCATION? DON’T WASTE YOUR
    VALUABLE TIME, WE PROVIDE YOU DETAILS OF GOOD EDUCATIONAL COLLEGES AND OUR EXPERTS
    WILL GIVE YOU GOOD COUNSELING ABOUT YOUR FUTURE. SO GO AHEAD AND click here
    HAVE A BRIGHT FURTRE.
    THANQ

     
  • At 2:10 PM, Blogger Embracing your potential said…

    I feel your pain Lisa. You've described my situation and I'm sure many others almost exactly. I am a science teacher of 8 years in a title 1 school and looking for a loop hole. Americorps will account for almost $10,000 over two years but also disqualify a teacher from other forms of forgiveness.

    Any answers since your posting?

     
  • At 5:02 PM, Blogger Jennifer said…

    I have taught special education, reading and Technology integration in schools that qualify for 14 years full time and 2 more half-time. Because my loans were before the "magical" 1998 I don't qualify. Why are the more experience, long-term dedicated teachers being penalized? I found this link that states if you had your first loan before 1993, you get a 3-year payment only deferrment (not forgiveness and interest accrues) if between 1993 and 1998, there is NO forgiveness and then after October 1998 is the forgiveness program.

    http://docs.tft.org/teacherresources/loanfactsheet.pdf

     
  • At 5:47 AM, Blogger Vivian said…

    EXACTLY! I meet all the qualifications for loan forgiveness except for that magical date of having taken out a loan prior to Oct. 1998!!! Can somebody please explain to me why the date stipulation? Why that particular date? Is there any rhyme or reason to the date? Or is it just simply a date the governmant came up with that cuts out the majority of teachers who owe money on their student loans??? If ANYBODY has the answer please tell me what it is.

     
  • At 11:46 AM, Blogger Tiffany said…

    I have the exact same problem. I graduated high school in '95 and went straight to college so my first loan was Oct. '96. There are programs for teachers before '93 and after '98 but what about those of us in the 5 years in between????? I've taught SCIENCE for 12 years now in Title 1 schools. I wonder if you could claim age discrimination on this one? lol Ridiculuos, I know but seriously...there should be something for us who went to school between '93 and '98.

     
  • At 11:49 AM, Blogger Tiffany said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.

     
  • At 10:15 PM, Blogger latrell said…

    You took the words out of my mouth. I have the same problem.

     
  • At 7:46 AM, Blogger Jennifer Marshall said…

    I just got denied, and I am PISSED OFF! I got my first loans in 1997. So what does that say about our country? They will "forgive" newer teachers, but what about the older, wiser teachers? Why cant the program encompass ALL teachers? What can we do about this???

     
  • At 7:48 AM, Blogger Jennifer Marshall said…

    I just got denied and I am (for lack of anything more mature to say right now) PISSED OFF!!! I have taught special needs going on 8 years now. I qualify in all areas for the loan forgiveness program EXCEPT that I took out my first loan for college in 1997!!! I am in shock that our system would put so many experienced teachers out there like that to suffer, but newer, inexperienced teachers get all the rewards!

     
  • At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm amazed at this blatant discrimination and the fact that the teachers who are affected are not standing together to challenge it. To have been fair, equal, and just, the loan forgiveness act should have applied to all educators. As teachers, it's our duty to seek to remedy such discrimination. I've taught sixteen years, my first year was in a school that qualifies as a low income school. I'm a highly qualified teacher as defined in NCLB. I've taught in two Title 1 schools. I took out loans to return to school to earn a Master's degree. These loans were obtained in 1995, so they are nonforgiveable due to the 1998 date. I'm nearing retirement age and will be paying the loans out of my social security monies until I die.
    To add salt to the wound, I received notice that my loans may be set aside in default--a surprise to me--as I've been making the agreed-to payments faithfully. It may be due to the fact I'm nearing retirement age, and have an illness that may render me disabled.

    Had I had an inlking that this situation would have happened to me, I NEVER would have taken loans to pay for the degree.The thought that I would be indebted to the government until the day I died never occured to me at the time I took out the loans.

    Hopefully, all teachers affected by this act will unite and seek to remedy the injustice. Our country is too great to allow for this to continue unchecked.

    I could have chosen another career, I didn't, I chose to become a teacher.

     
  • At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Kendra said…

    Are there any new developments regarding this. I recently faced the same problem this year and it is quite frustrating? I was told that my loans did not qualify because I have a consolidated loan and some of those loans took place before 1998.

     
  • At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My daughter had her loans after the period of time you are talking about, she has applied and been denied twice--even though she has worked for 5 + years in a title one school, the last letter told her that Freehold boro schools are not in their directory --- it's a public school system and title one schools, i told her to keep fighting for the dollars, she deserves them! I hope she will be able to find someone who can help her navigate all the hoops

     
  • At 8:40 AM, Blogger bhumane said…

    What can we do about this? I was also denied. I have been teaching science for 13 years. How sad that the teacher down the hall will get all of her loans forgiven because she falls into that "magical" date. But yet, I will not. I will go on paying FOREVER, close to $200 a month! I have had hardships as well and deferment after deferment. I understand I borrowed the money, but how sad it is to allow this forgiveness for some, but not all. We are just as good as them to qualify for any forgiveness.

     
  • At 7:29 AM, Blogger Tommy said…

    This is my situation as well. I went back to school to get my master's to become a teacher after hearing of this. I even spoke with the loan representative who told me I would qualify. After completing my masters, I learn of this discrimination. WOW!!!! Are they serious???!!! It really pisses me off!!! I will not be voting for any incumbent during next elections until everyone who is in office now is OUT!!!!

     
  • At 7:32 AM, Blogger Tommy said…

    This is the same situation I am in. I went back to school to get my masters and even spoke with a loan rep who said I would qualify. Then I learn of this. It really pisses me off! I will not be voting for any incumbents until everyone who is in office now is out!!!

     
  • At 3:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I live in New York and I think it's not only time to lobby our politicans and push to rectify this injustice, but it may be time to call the news crews and get 7 on on side!

     
  • At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Same experience here. I thought I was reading my story! Except I teach math....I have taught math for the last 15 years in title one schools and am ready to walk away! I cant afford to pay my loans with all of the furlough days.

     
  • At 5:11 PM, Blogger Lisa said…

    I have sent complaints to legislators and political officials, but have gotten nowhere. After writing this 3 years ago, I get more comments on this blogpost than any other blogpost. I also have seen there are complaints on teachers.net and there is a closed petition out there as well. We have worked hard to get where we are, and our pay is being cut more and more every year? How can we be heard?

     
  • At 6:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I experienced the rejection letter a few months ago because I have a loan prior to 1998. It is very frustrating!

     
  • At 4:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A ray of hope...The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 established a new public service loan forgiveness program. This program discharges any remaining debt after 10 years of full-time employment in public service. The borrower must have made 120 payments as part of the Direct Loan program in order to obtain this benefit. Only payments made on or after October 1, 2007 count toward the required 120 monthly payments.

    But it won't work for me I will have 120 payments this next month but any payments made on or before Oct 1, 2007 don't count. Oh Well

    Maybe it will help someone out there!

    http://www.finaid.org/loans/publicservice.phtml

     
  • At 7:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Lisa,
    Did you ever get anywhere with the Teacher Loan Forgiveness? I am in the exact same situation. I graduated from high school in 1998 and started college in September. What kind of program would create such a policy that would automatically exclude anyone who started college in September 1998?

     
  • At 12:11 PM, Blogger Alanna said…

    Burned. So so disappointed.

     
  • At 8:59 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    I was denied for the exact same reason. If they paid us more we would be able to pay down our loans already and qualify for more help. I also want to know what that 1998 date has to do with anything. I have 30000 in loans for both of my degrees. That's what I get for returning to school and paying for it out of MY pocket in order to help the kids of our great nation.

     
  • At 5:36 PM, Blogger lmg0844 said…

    I have the same problem. I called my loan company to have my loans forgiven and they informed me that my loans were taken out in 1997 so I do not qualify. I have almost $30,000 left to pay and was really looking forward to that $17,500. I was physically sick after finding out that I will receive no help!

     
  • At 10:17 PM, Blogger GaretT_T said…

    These loans create a treadmill of debt. Few borrowers can repay the loan in full, plus interest, and pay for other monthly expenses. Thus, borrowers must to re-borrow, or “rollover”, the loan in order to fill the gap in their budget created by their loan.loan on your car title

     
  • At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Am I still eligible for service if I teach 2 years in special education and three years in Math?

     
  • At 10:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Interesting enough there was a program for teachers before 1998. The problem from what i am being told is there was no funding available! Ha! No funding for the program that passed in legislation before the new one that has funding available. Yet we are required to go back and get 24 credits. I am 33,00 in debt!

     
  • At 12:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My loans for my teaching credential were during the qualified time. I did not decide to become a teacher until four years after completing my bachelor's. Unfortunately, my loan for my bachelor's degree still had a balance. The reason for the 1998 date was because congress wanted to encourage NEW teachers. Well, I was a new teacher, but I was one who was unable to get a bachelor's without a previous loan. Now I am missing an opportunity to get $17K forgiven. Not EQUITABLE!

     
  • At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm in the same situation. I graduated in 97 and loans were taken out prior to 97...I had no choice. What can be done, it's almost like age discrimination as someone just mentioned. I've taught at an inner city title one public school for 16 years and 200 kids a day. Not only that I have to pay for paper copies and ink and all of my science supplies.


     
  • At 8:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am in the same boat! I have been teaching in a Title 1 school for 12 years and applied two different times! DENIED both times! I vowed not to take another loan out while completing my masters...paid for it while working and going to school. I have just $5000 left to pay and was denied. It makes me think they look at your payment history... the good ones continue to pay! Sucks big time! Frustrating as other young teachers are using this program and then stop teaching at year six! :(

     
  • At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Lisa McD said…

    Lisa,
    Oh my goodnes! I thought I was alone. All of the teachers around me who applied, in my school were eligible; while my application was denied for the exact same reason. It is so frustrating. Teachers told me about this benefit in the early 90's. And then this, with a cut off of no earlier than October, 1998. Why is our service not rewarded in the same manner as past and future candidates. The kicker for me is that I chose to go back to school with two young children as a single parent. I went part time for eleven years. At that time I did not apply for or receive any type of Federal Assistance; I made ends meet. Now I am still paying off my own undergraduate loans as my second and youngest child is entering college this fall! I have tried as much as I can to help them with their loans too, however, teachers loans are being forgiven while many teachers are still living at home and have excess money for spending. UGH!!! I could go on and on...however I know nothing will change the situation. I even wrote a letter to President Obama addressing this issue. Haven't heard back.... .yet. ;)

     
  • At 9:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Maggie Kate Moran, where did you find that you don't need to be in a low income school? I checked with my state about the low income status and I was told it met qualifications. Then I sent it to the federal government for the SPED forgiveness and was denied that my school didn't meet the criteria.

     
  • At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am yet another teacher, at a title 1 school, with the promise of repayment after 5 years of teaching, and after 7 was denied due to the Oct. 1998 before OR after date. If I could have afforded to repay my original BA I would not have needed the loan for a Master's.. It's a "catch 22" Very frustrating!

     
  • At 8:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The same thing happened to me. I have worked for 10 years in a Title 1 urban district, and I was denied. I meet all of the other requirements. It is so disheartening that someone would do this purposely. My husband thinks it was purposeful to cut off many teachers. What a joke!!!!! Makes me so angry but I try not to think about it. I owe 24, 500. I have a great interest rate locked in considering what they are at today (3.875) but after paying for 10 years, it hasn't budged. I keep hoping something changes. But, I am afraid, we are the forgotten ones. :((((

     
  • At 7:50 AM, Blogger cheryl said…

    Its the date stipulations that hurt us teachers. Who set those up? Perhaps if we bombard dept of end with a great outflow if letters????

     
  • At 7:54 AM, Blogger cheryl said…

    Tired of dates that restrict us..its discrimination..write dept of ed, your congressman. And they say we need teachers but treat us like idiots.

     
  • At 9:14 PM, Blogger sed teacher said…

    Well I'm applying now! I also have loans that started before 98 but many mire after so on the app I put the forgivness amount as only the loans the qualify with a sticky note noting this! I expect them to deny it. so asked the lady from my loan company who could I talk to she said state ed department! I think ill call the news and have them investigate. what if I re consoladate only the loans after 10/ 98 then would I qualify! Ibelieve were there's a will there's a way!

     

Post a Comment

<< Home