Its common knowledge and an agreed sentiment among many American citizens that the hard working teachers of our country are underpaid for the vital role they play in educating this nations' youth. However getting the education needed to become a teacher is not cheap and requires many aspiring teachers to take out student loans. Thankfully there are options put in place that teachers can take advantage of to get relief of these student loans. There is a lot of mystery surrounding how student loan forgiveness and student loan consolidation programs work and how they can help financially struggling teachers. Currently the government is offering assistance with these programs from the Department of Education. In this article I will explain how the three student loan relief programs work and how teachers can best take advantage of it. Student Loan Consolidation: Right now if you have federally backed student loans you more than likely qualify for a consolidation. The benefits of consolidation are one monthly payment and lower interest. The vast majority of teachers who have federally backed loans will qualify and in most cases will be able to save a considerable amount of money each month on what they are currently paying. Income Based Repayment: The IBR plan is another consolidation program for people who are struggling financially. The same benefits as a standard consolidation apply with the exception that your monthly payments are based on two factors, your income/budget and number of dependants. Depending on how bad your current financial situation is you may qualify to pay $0 per month and still stay in good graces with your lender. Each year there is an income review and your payments can be adjusted either up or down depending on where you are with your income. Student Loan Forgiveness: For people working in the public service field, which teachers do, there is a student loan forgiveness program. Once you qualify for this program you will only have to make 120 more payments (10 years) and then the remainder of your loan is forgiven; this saves years off of most people's current payment plan. Also keep in mind the forgiveness plan can be combined with the income based plan. So for a struggling teacher getting on the IBR plan combined with the forgiveness plan will be very helpful; you may qualify to pay $0 or very little per month and if you remain a teacher than in ten years your loans are forgiven. The one caveat to the forgiveness plan is that you must remain employed in the public service field for the entirety of the plan, so if you think you are going to stop teaching before than this may not be for you. Common Misconception: When people hear the word forgiveness they assume that means their loans will be completely written off and they will have to pay nothing. Unfortunately that is not the case, as beneficial as all of the above mentioned programs are they are not a forgiveness in the sense where people pay nothing (unless you qualify for the IBR). Possible Problems: For some reason the government makes getting these consolidation and forgiveness plans an extremely hard task. The majority of people cannot figure out the how to correctly get this loan underwritten to receive the maximum benefits possible. And the loan could take up to 90 days to process so if anything is done wrong you either have to do it over again or will get a loan that may not be best suited for you. Solution: Thankfully there are companies that can be of assistance in helping make sure teachers get approved for the best consolidation or forgiveness program available. Typically these companies charge a nominal fee for the in-depth underwriting process that must take place to ensure approval goes through. It is highly recommended to use such a company and avoid complication while ensuring you are getting the maximum benefits possible. These programs were designed with the teacher's best interest in mind so if you find yourself struggling than take advantage of the options that you have.
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