Teachers and educators are in demand across the country, and many programs offer low-interest federal and private loans to those who want to build their careers in the education field. An education student loan is offered to individuals who enroll in an undergraduate or graduate school to pursue a formal teaching degree. In addition to applying for loans, students may also want to look into grants through the TEACH Grant program.

Oftentimes, education students can be approved for loan forgiveness or even loan cancellation if they ultimately decide to teach in high-need school districts. Special education, math, science, foreign language, and bilingual teachers also qualify to have their loans reduced or cancelled altogether if they satisfy certain criteria.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility requirements for education student loans vary, depending on the loan provider. However, students are usually required to be enrolled at least half-time in an education undergraduate or graduate program. Students may need to exhibit financial need for a loan during their application process; however, this is not always the case. To determine their eligibility for federal loans, students are required to fill out the Free Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Private loans usually require a credit history check and may require students to seek a cosigner for their loan.

Repaying an Education School Loan

There are several repayment options available to education students. With federal loans, students are expected to begin repaying their loans after a six-month grace period. Students who accept positions in impoverished schools or high-need school districts may qualify for partial loan forgiveness, deferment, or even cancellation, depending on their loan provider. To qualify for these assistance options, students must work in a public or nonprofit school and be licensed by their state education agency.

Private loans do not offer teaching-specific loan forgiveness options, so students may want to apply for scholarship, grant, and federal assistance programs before seeking any private loans. For more information on loan forgiveness and loan cancellations, see the Federal Student Aid website. Students who experience difficulty repaying their loan should contact their loan provider to find out how to best deal with their circumstances. Groups like Teach for America and American Education Services also offer services to students who need loan assistance.

Types of Education Student Loans

  • Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized Loans: The Direct Subsidized Loan is one of several federal loans that carries a 3.4% interest rate. With this loan, students are required to exhibit financial need. A Direct Unsubsidized Loan, on the other hand, is a federal loan with a 6.8% interest rate that doesn’t require students to demonstrate financial need. Students who want to pursue these assistance options must be enrolled at least half-time in an accredited college or university. Graduate students do not qualify for Direct Subsidized Loans, only Direct Unsubsidized Loans.
  • Federal Perkins Loan Program: This 5%-interest loan is offered to full-time and part-time students who exhibit exceptional financial need. Those who utilize these direct loans may also qualify for loan cancellation if they commit to working in low-income schools. It’s important to note that not all schools participate in the Federal Perkins Loan program, so students should contact their financial aid office to find out if they have access to this loan program.
  • Direct PLUS Loans: These loans are offered by the U.S. Department of Education at a fixed interest rate of 7.9%. They are often sought out by graduate students, parents of dependent undergraduates, and professional degree students. To be approved for these federal loans, individuals should not have an adverse credit history and must be enrolled at least half-time in a qualifying school. The total amount a student or parent can borrow through this program is the total cost of attendance, which is determined by the school the student ultimately attends.