34 CFR § 682.216 - Teacher loan forgiveness program.

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§ 682.216 Teacher loan forgiveness program.

(a) General.

(1) The teacher loan forgiveness program is intended to encourage individuals to enter and continue in the teaching profession. For new borrowers, the Secretary repays the amount specified in this paragraph on the borrower's subsidized and unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans, Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and in certain cases, Federal Consolidation Loans or Direct Consolidation Loans. The forgiveness program is only available to a borrower who has no outstanding loan balance under the FFEL Program or the Direct Loan Program on October 1, 1998 or who has no outstanding loan balance on the date he or she obtains a loan after October 1, 1998.

(2)

(i) The borrower must have been employed at an eligible elementary or secondary school that serves low-income families or by an educational service agency that serves low-income families as a full-time teacher for five consecutive complete academic years. The required five years of teaching may include any combination of qualifying teaching service at an eligible elementary or secondary school or an eligible educational service agency.

(ii) Teaching at an eligible elementary or secondary school may be counted toward the required five consecutive complete academic years only if at least one year of teaching was after the 1997-1998 academic year.

(iii) Teaching for an educational service agency may be counted toward the required five consecutive complete academic years only if the consecutive five-year period includes qualifying service at an eligible educational service agency performed after the 2007-2008 academic year.

(3) All borrowers eligible for teacher loan forgiveness may receive loan forgiveness of up to a combined total of $5,000 on the borrower's eligible FFEL and Direct Loan Program loans.

(4) A borrower may receive loan forgiveness of up to a combined total of $17,500 on the borrower's eligible FFEL and Direct Loan Program loans if the borrower was employed for five consecutive years -

(i) At an eligible secondary school as a highly qualified mathematics or science teacher, or for an eligible educational service agency as a highly qualified teacher of mathematics or science to secondary school students; or

(ii) At an eligible elementary or secondary school or educational service agency as a special education teacher.

(5) The loan for which the borrower is seeking forgiveness must have been made prior to the end of the borrower's fifth year of qualifying teaching service.

(b) Definitions. The following definitions apply to this section:

Academic year means one complete school year at the same school, or two complete and consecutive half years at different schools, or two complete and consecutive half years from different school years at either the same school or different schools. Half years exclude summer sessions and generally fall within a twelve-month period. For schools that have a year-round program of instruction, a minimum of nine months is considered an academic year.

Educational service agency means a regional public multiservice agency authorized by State statute to develop, manage, and provide services or programs to local educational agencies, as defined in section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended.

Elementary school means a public or nonprofit private school that provides elementary education as determined by State law or the Secretary if that school is not in a State.

Full-time means the standard used by a State in defining full-time employment as a teacher. For a borrower teaching in more than one school, the determination of full-time is based on the combination of all qualifying employment.

Highly qualified means highly qualified as defined in section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended.

Secondary school means a public or nonprofit private school that provides secondary education as determined by State law or the Secretary if the school is not in a State.

Teacher means a person who provides direct classroom teaching or classroom-type teaching in a non-classroom setting, including Special Education teachers.

(c) Borrower eligibility.

(1) A borrower who has been employed at an elementary or secondary school or for an educational service agency as a full-time teacher for five consecutive complete academic years may obtain loan forgiveness under this program if the elementary or secondary school or educational service agency -

(i) Is in a school district that qualifies for funds under title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended;

(ii) Has been selected by the Secretary based on a determination that more than 30 percent of the school's or educational service agency's total enrollment is made up of children who qualify for services provided under title I; and

(iii) Is listed in the Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits. If this directory is not available before May 1 of any year, the previous year's directory may be used.

(2) The Secretary considers all elementary and secondary schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) or operated on Indian reservations by Indian tribal groups under contract with the BIE to qualify as schools serving low-income students.

(3) If the school or educational service agency at which the borrower is employed meets the requirements specified in paragraph (c)(1) of this section for at least one year of the borrower's five consecutive complete academic years of teaching and fails to meet those requirements in subsequent years, those subsequent years of teaching qualify for purposes of this section for that borrower.

(4) In the case of a borrower whose five consecutive complete years of qualifying teaching service began before October 30, 2004, the borrower -

(i) May receive up to $5,000 of loan forgiveness if the borrower -

(A) Demonstrated knowledge and teaching skills in reading, writing, mathematics, and other areas of the elementary school curriculum, as certified by the chief administrative officer of the eligible elementary school or educational service agency where the borrower was employed; or

(B) Taught in a subject area that is relevant to the borrower's academic major as certified by the chief administrative officer of the eligible secondary school or educational service agency where the borrower was employed.

(ii) May receive up to $17,500 of loan forgiveness if the borrower -

(A) Taught mathematics or science on a full-time basis at an eligible secondary school, or taught mathematics or science to secondary school students on a full-time basis for an eligible educational service agency, and was a highly qualified mathematics or science teacher; or

(B) Taught as a special education teacher on a full-time basis to children with disabilities at an eligible elementary or secondary school or an educational service agency and was a highly qualified special education teacher whose special education training corresponded to the children's disabilities and who has demonstrated knowledge and teaching skills in the content areas of the elementary or secondary school curriculum.

(iii) Teaching service performed for an eligible educational service agency may be counted toward the required five years of teaching only if the consecutive five-year period includes qualifying service at an eligible educational service agency performed after the 2007-2008 academic year.

(5) In the case of a borrower whose five consecutive years of qualifying teaching service began on or after October 30, 2004, the borrower -

(i) May receive up to $5,000 of loan forgiveness if the borrower taught full time at an eligible elementary or secondary school or for an educational service agency and was a highly qualified elementary or secondary school teacher.

(ii) May receive up to $17,500 of loan forgiveness if the borrower -

(A) Taught mathematics or science on a full-time basis at an eligible secondary school, or taught mathematics or science on a full-time basis to secondary school students for an eligible educational service agency, and was a highly qualified mathematics or science teacher; or

(B) Taught as a special education teacher on a full-time basis to children with disabilities at an eligible elementary or secondary school or for an educational service agency and was a highly qualified special education teacher whose special education training corresponded to the children's disabilities and who has demonstrated knowledge and teaching skills in the content areas of the elementary or secondary school curriculum.

(iii) Teaching service performed for an eligible educational service agency may be counted toward the required five years of teaching only if the consecutive five-year period includes qualifying service at an eligible educational service agency performed after the 2007-2008 academic year.

(6) To qualify for loan forgiveness as a highly qualified teacher, the teacher must have been a highly qualified teacher for all five years of eligible teaching service.

(7) For teacher loan forgiveness applications received by the loan holder on or after July 1, 2006, a teacher in a private, non-profit elementary or secondary school who is exempt from State certification requirements (unless otherwise applicable under State law) may qualify for loan forgiveness under paragraphs (c)(3)(ii) or (c)(4) of this section if -

(i) The private school teacher is permitted to and does satisfy rigorous subject knowledge and skills tests by taking competency tests in applicable grade levels and subject areas;

(ii) The competency tests are recognized by 5 or more States for the purposes of fulfilling the highly qualified teacher requirements under section 9101 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965; and

(iii) The private school teacher achieves a score on each test that equals or exceeds the average passing score for those 5 states.

(8) The academic year may be counted as one of the borrower's five consecutive complete academic years if the borrower completes at least one-half of the academic year and the borrower's employer considers the borrower to have fulfilled his or her contract requirements for the academic year for the purposes of salary increases, tenure, and retirement if the borrower is unable to complete an academic year due to -

(i) A return to postsecondary education, on at least a half-time basis, that is directly related to the performance of the service described in this section;

(ii) A condition that is covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) (29 U.S.C. 2601, et seq.); or

(iii) A call or order to active duty status for more than 30 days as a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces named in section 10101 of title 10, United States Code.

(9) A borrower's period of postsecondary education, qualifying FMLA condition, or military active duty as described in paragraph (c)(7) of this section, including the time necessary for the borrower to resume qualifying teaching no later than the beginning of the next regularly scheduled academic year, does not constitute a break in the required five consecutive years of qualifying teaching service.

(10) A borrower who was employed as a teacher at more than one qualifying school, for more than one qualifying educational service agency, or at a combination of both during an academic year and demonstrates that the combined teaching was the equivalent of full-time, as supported by the certification of one or more of the chief administrative officers of the schools or educational service agencies involved, is considered to have completed one academic year of qualifying teaching.

(11) A borrower is not eligible for teacher loan forgiveness on a defaulted loan unless the borrower has made satisfactory repayment arrangements to re-establish title IV eligibility, as defined in § 682.200.

(12) A borrower may not receive loan forgiveness for the same qualifying teaching service under this section if the borrower receives a benefit for the same teaching service under -

(i) Subtitle D of title I of the National and Community Service Act of 1990;

(ii) 34 CFR 685.219; or

(iii) Section 428K of the Act.

(d) Forgiveness amount.

(1) A qualified borrower is eligible for forgiveness of up to $5,000, or up to $17,500 if the borrower meets the requirements of paragraph (c)(4)(ii) or (c)(5)(ii) of this section. The forgiveness amount is deducted from the aggregate amount of the borrower's subsidized or unsubsidized Federal Stafford or Federal Consolidation Loan obligation that is outstanding after the borrower completes his or her fifth consecutive complete academic year of teaching as described in paragraph (c) of this section. Only the outstanding portion of the consolidation loan that was used to repay an eligible subsidized or unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan, an eligible Direct Subsidized Loan, or an eligible Direct Unsubsidized Loan qualifies for loan forgiveness under this section.

(2) A borrower may not receive more than a total of $5,000, or $17,500 if the borrower meets the requirements of paragraph (c)(4)(ii) or (c)(5)(ii) of this section, in loan forgiveness for outstanding principal and accrued interest under both this section and under section 34 CFR 685.217.

(3) The holder does not refund payments that were received from or on behalf of a borrower who qualifies for loan forgiveness under this section.

(e) Authorized forbearance during qualifying teaching service and forgiveness processing.

(1) A holder grants a forbearance -

(i) Under § 682.211(h)(2)(ii)(C) and (h)(4)(iii), in annual increments for each of the years of qualifying teaching service, if the holder believes, at the time of the borrower's annual request, that the expected cancellation amount will satisfy the anticipated remaining outstanding balance on the loan at the time of the expected cancellation;

(ii) For a period not to exceed 60 days while the holder is awaiting a completed teacher loan forgiveness application from the borrower; and

(iii) For the period beginning on the date the holder receives a completed loan forgiveness application to the date the holder receives either a denial of the request or the loan forgiveness amount from the guaranty agency, in accordance with paragraph (f) of this section.

(2) At the conclusion of a forbearance authorized under paragraph (e)(1) of this section, the holder must resume collection activities and may capitalize any interest accrued and not paid during the forbearance period in accordance with § 682.202(b).

(3) Nothing in paragraph (e) of this section restricts holders from offering other forbearance options to borrowers who do not meet the requirements of paragraph (e)(1)(i) of this section.

(f) Application and processing.

(1) A borrower, after completing the qualifying teaching service, requests loan forgiveness from the holder of the loan on a form approved by the Secretary.

(2)

(i) The holder must file a request for payment with the guaranty agency on a teacher loan forgiveness amount no later than 60 days after the receipt, from the borrower, of a completed teacher loan forgiveness application.

(ii) When filing a request for payment on a teacher loan forgiveness, the holder must provide the guaranty agency with the completed loan forgiveness application submitted by the borrower and any required supporting documentation.

(iii) If the holder files a request for payment later than 60 days after the receipt of the completed teacher loan forgiveness application form, interest that accrued on the loan forgiveness amount after the expiration of the 60-day filing period is ineligible for reimbursement by the Secretary, and the holder must repay all interest and special allowance received on the loan forgiveness amount for periods after the expiration of the 60-day filing period. The holder cannot collect from the borrower any interest that is not paid by the Secretary under this paragraph.

(3)

(i) Within 45 days of receiving the holder's request for payment, the guaranty agency must determine if the borrower meets the eligibility requirements for loan forgiveness under this section and must notify the holder of its determination of the borrower's eligibility for loan forgiveness under this section.

(ii) If the guaranty agency approves the loan forgiveness, it must, within the same 45-day period, pay the holder the amount of the laon forgiveness, up to $17,500, subject to paragraphs (c)(11), (d)(1), (d)(2) and (f)(2)(iii) of this section.

(4) After being notified by the guaranty agency of its determination of the eligibility of the borrower for the loan forgiveness, the holder must, within 30 days, inform the borrower of the determination. If the loan forgiveness is approved, the holder must also provide the borrower with information regarding any new repayment terms of remaining loan balances.

(5) Unless otherwise instructed by the borrower, the holder must apply the proceeds of the teacher forgiveness first to any outstanding unsubsidized Federal Stafford loan balances, next to any outstanding subsidized Federal Stafford loan balances, then to any eligible outstanding Federal Consolidation loan balances.

(g) Claims for reimbursement from the Secretary on loans held by guaranty agencies. In the case of a teacher loan forgiveness applied to a defaulted loan held by the guaranty agency, the Secretary pays the guaranty agency a percentage of the amount forgiven that is equal to the complement of the reinsurance percentage paid on the loan. The payment of up to $5,000, or up to $17,500, may also include interest that accrues on the forgiveness amount during the period from the date on which the guaranty agency received payment from the Secretary on a default claim to the date on which the guaranty agency determines that the borrower is eligible for the teacher loan forgiveness.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 1845-0020)
(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1078-10)
[65 FR 65627, Nov. 1, 2000, as amended at 66 FR 34763, June 29, 2001; 71 FR 45702, Aug. 9, 2006; 71 FR 64398, Nov. 1, 2006; 73 FR 35495, June 23, 2008. Redesignated at 73 FR 63249, Oct. 23, 2008; 74 FR 55995, Oct. 29, 2009; 78 FR 65813, Nov. 1, 2013]