Alaska Teacher Loan Forgiveness Options

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Alaska Teacher Loan Forgiveness Options

Postby Johncn » Thu Sep 10, 2015 5:38 am

Hi All,

I was in the process of writing something up about teacher loan forgiveness when I read a question in another thread about teacher loan forgiveness in Alaska.

In actuality, Alaska is one of the best places in America for teachers to have loans forgiven. There are three main federal programs that nearly all rural Alaska schools qualify for, and depending on what subject area you work in, and other criteria, you can get either a little ($5000) or a great deal (100% of your loans) forgiven.

The key is that ALL of these programs place the burden of responsibility on the TEACHER to track down the details, pursue the correct forms (which banks servicing your loan don't want you to know about) and obtaining the correct signatures. The criteria for each program are year-by-year, confusing and based on a list that comes out for each school year of qualifying schools.

To get full credit, you have to go back and check where you taught for each year, and pursue the correct forms from your bank and/or your school you attended when you took the loan out, and get the right signatures from school officials who likely know little or nothing about the programs. It does NOT have to be done the year you are there....think back on your career, and if you have loans, and worked in a qualifying school, it's free money just waiting for you. :o The database you want is called the "Teacher Cancellation Low Income (TCLI) Directory; it lists each year the designated public and private nonprofit elementary and secondary schools approved by the U.S. Department of Education as having a high concentration of students from low-income families.

TCLI Directory Database
https://www.tcli.ed.gov/CBSWebApp/tcli/TCLIPubSchoolSearch.jsp

Here is an export I did for LAST school year for Alaska schools and districts, sorted by district. As you can see, most of Alaska is represented (384 schools) on the approved list.

TCLI List for Alaska: 2014-15 SY - Filtering turned on to search by district or school name
http://www.alaskateacher.org/downloads/TCLI-AK-2014-15SY.xls

In order (from best to worst) the programs are:

Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation Program - this one ROCKS.Almost all teachers in TCLI schools benefit, even first two years, and you can have up to 100% "cancelled"!

Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program - Between $5,000 (everyone) and $17,500 (Special Ed, HS Math & Science) forgiven if in TCLI qualified school with 30% or more poverty level.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program - Aimed at public service employees, but school teachers count. Sort of a mythical thing. Started in 2007, but criteria say that you have to have 120 on time, full amount, monthly payments before any benefit. That means NOBODY has gotten a penny, and won't until 2017. Worth tracking if you qualify, or feel you might.

Whether new to the state, or an old hand, you can use the database to search by year for eligibility of the building you were working in, or will work in. The list does not change much year to year for rural Alaska, so although not a guarantee, it's likely that a school on the list year after year in the past will also be on the list if you go to work there. ;-) I'll use NWABSD schools as an example. Here are the Northwest Arctic schools on the TCLI list for the 2014-15 school year.

Image

Don't expect your school district to be up on all this. Most school administrators are not. You must do the leg work, get the forms, and find either the HR Director or the Superintendent to sign your form for each qualifying year for each program that you worked. LOTS of Alaska teachers who were persistent have used the first two programs to get their loans forgiven. I would say, however, that most eligible Alaska teachers are not aware of the programs that exist.

Hope this helps.

Regards,

John
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