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Loan Forgiveness and Cancelation Programs for Educators

Teachers in Wisconsin may be eligible for loan forgiveness or loan cancelation if they work in an eligible school or teacher shortage area and have certain types of loans. 

Financial Assistance for Current Teachers

  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness is available for teachers who have Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans, and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans.
  • To meet the eligibility requirements for this program a teacher must have been:
    • Employed as a full-time, highly qualified elementary or secondary teacher for five complete and consecutive academic years, and
    • Employed at a designated low-income school during this period.
  • For the purpose of this loan forgiveness program, based on Wisconsin state law, a “full-time teacher for secondary school students” is a teacher working in any school that includes grade 9 or higher (this includes schools with grades 9-12, 7-9, or K-12) AND the teacher must teach students in grade 9 or higher.
  • Information on the federal loan forgiveness program including the application process is available at Federal Student Aid Information from the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Wisconsin identified low-income schools or agencies are listed in the Annual Directory of Designated Low Income-Schools. 
  • For questions regarding Teacher Loan Forgiveness, please contact Clara Pfeiffer at or (608) 261-6324.

Loan Cancelation

  • Teacher Loan Cancelation is available for teachers who have Federal Perkins Loans.
  • To meet the eligibility requirements for this program, a teacher must have served full-time in a public or nonprofit elementary or secondary school system as a:
    • teacher in a school serving students from low-income families;
    • special education teacher, including teachers of infants, toddlers, children, or youth with disabilities; or
    • teacher in the fields of mathematics, science, foreign languages, or bilingual education, or in any other field of expertise determined by a state education agency to have a shortage of qualified teachers in that state.
  • Information on the federal loan cancelation program is available at Federal Student Aid Information from the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Wisconsin identified low-income schools or agencies are listed in the Annual Directory of Designated Low Income-Schools.
  • The nationwide listing of teacher shortage areas is posted in the: U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education.
  • The teacher shortage areas designated by Wisconsin for the 2004-2020 school years are:
    • Standard Areas: English as a Second Language (ESL)/Bilingual, Sciences, Library Media, Mathematics, Music, Reading, Foreign Languages
    • Special Education: Cognitive Disabilities, Cross-Categorical, Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Early Childhood-Special Education, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, Learning Disabilities, School Speech and Language Disabilities, Visual Disabilities
    • Career and Technical Education: Business Education, Agriculture, Marketing Education, Family and Consumer Education, Technology Education
  • Additional teacher shortage areas added for the 2019-2020 school year are:
    • Standard Areas: Art, Health, Physical Education

Note: Federal Stafford/Supplemental Loans for Students (SLS) borrowers who have questions concerning their loans, including the teacher shortage area deferment should contact the Federal Student Aid Hotline at 1-800-4FED-AID.

Application for cancellation or discharge of a Perkins Loan must be made to the school that made the loan or to the school’s Perkins Loan servicer. Please contact your school for forms and instructions specific to your type of cancellation or discharge.

 Definition of a “Low Income” School

  • The school must be a public or other non-profit private elementary or secondary school located in the school district of a local educational agency that is eligible for assistance under Title I of the Elementary or Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended.
  • A low-income school is one in which more than 30% of its total enrollment is economically disadvantaged students.
  • All elementary and secondary schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) or operated on reservations by Indian tribal groups under contract with the BIA qualify as low-income schools.

If you are asked to provide a license verification letter:

Contact the DPI Educator Licensing office to request a verification letter stating that you:

  • Hold a license in a subject shortage area for the current school year; OR
  • Hold a license and are teaching in a low-income school building for the present school term.
  • Include the following information with your request:
    1. Your DPI Entity Number
    2. Your current mailing address

NOTE: The list of teacher subject shortage categories and the list of low-income schools are generally published around May/June for that particular school year (e.g., in May 2018 for the 2017-18 school year). You cannot request the verification letter before May/June of the current school year. Request the verification letter after the shortage areas and low-income schools are announced. If you have applied for a teaching license, you must wait until you have actually received your license before requesting a verification letter.

Financial Assistance for Future Teachers

  • Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant - A federal grant program that can help pay for college for those who plan to become a teacher in a high-need field in a low-income school. 
  • Wisconsin Minority Teacher Program (WI Stat § 39.40 (2019))
    • Eligibility: Available to minority students (as defined in WI Stat § 39.40(1)) who are Wisconsin residents enrolled at least half-time in a higher education institution within Wisconsin in a program leading to a teacher license in a designated teacher shortage area.
    • Loans will be forgiven at 25% per year IF the recipient:
      • is employed by an elementary or secondary school located within a district in which minority students constitute at least 40% of the membership (for more information on qualifying school districts, please contact DPI).
      • is employed as a full-time teacher in a high-demand area in the teacher's discipline, and 
      • receives a rating of proficient or distinguished on the educator effectiveness system (or equivalent)
    • For those interested in recent legislation regarding the Wisconsin Minority Teacher Loan Program, please contact the State of Wisconsin Higher Educational Aids Board (HEAB).

Submit questions and comments about this information to the Licensing Online Help desk.