On Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) I received my letter letting me know I had been approved for my Loan Forgiveness for working as a highly qualified special educator. I received $17,500 which was taken right off of my loan. If you’re like me, any amount that can just be “taken off” your loan is appreciated! I posted the exciting news on my Speech to the Core Facebook page (if you’re not following, click here!). The amount of SLPs asking for more information was unbelievable! So, instead of writing a mass email or attempting to respond to each person individually, I decided a blog post would be best!
I applied 4 times. I guess the 4th time is the charm?! I was beginning to get discouraged, but I knew that I should receive it and I was not going to give up. Each time I received a letter that said you do not qualify at this time, please try again at a later date. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was because I had been in the school district more than 5 years. The first time I applied, your school needed to qualify for ALL of the 5 years that you were trying to use to qualify. That has since changed, now as long as the school you work at qualifies for at least one of the years, you can still qualify (or at least that is how I interpreted what it said! You may want to double check!). I know that my school did not qualify for ALL of the years, but only a few of them.
So, where do you start? First, visit the loan forgiveness website. Click on the picture and it will take you to the website!
This describes what types of schools qualify you for the loan forgiveness program.
Click on this picture and it will take you to the site to check if your school qualifies. You may have to check multiple years. My suggestion? Put in each year that you have worked at the school. If your school shows up for that year, make a note of it. For example, my school is eligible for 2013-2014, 2012-2013, 2011-2012, 2010-2011, 2009-2010, but not 2008-2009.
This slide is on the main webpage that I first had you click on! It defines who is considered a teacher. Although SLPs do not like to be referred to as teachers, this is one time you should be happy that we fall into this category! Now, every state varies. In the state of Florida you can work in the public schools with a Department of Health License (DOH)–the same license that allows you to work in all settings–or you can working with a Department of Education (DOE) certificate. I ONLY have my DOH license. I was worried that I had been denied the first few times because of this, turns out that wasn’t the reason. This year, once my loan holder determined I met the general qualifications, they sent the information to the Florida DOE to verify that I did indeed work in the public school system. I believe the length of time that it took for me to receive confirmation of approval, was the time it was taking for the DOE to confirm with the DOH that I had a license in good standing. Once that was all worked out they sent it to the federal department, which then gave the final approval and sent it to my loan holder.
This picture will take you directly to the application if you click on it.
The next few pictures are screen shots from the application. Make sure you are careful when completing the application and check all boxes that need to be checked. On this section you need to check whether you work in an elementary or secondary school that is eligible. Then, you need to check the box that states you are a “highly qualified FULL-TIME special education teacher”.
This section is determining whether you have applied for loan forgiveness before, as well as if you have received any money before. For me, since I had applied several times, I had to check the box that says “I have applied”. I wrote in my Loan Holder Name and their website, but left the amount black per the instructions.
This section has changed since I applied. They updated the application, so you may need some clarification on the person that is supposed to sign off. Before, it said principal/administrator. Now, it says Chief Administrative Officer–that could mean something different in each of your districts. To be on the safe side, I would call for clarification prior to submitting your application.