California Educator

September 2015

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• You teach in the fields of mathematics, science, foreign language, bilingual edu- cation, special education, or another field of expertise determined annually by the state to have a shortage of qualified teach- ers (see sidebar). The PSLF program forgives the balance due on your William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program loan after you have made 120 qualifying payments while employed full time in public service, including teaching. CTA Member Benefits has a list of online resources to help determine your eligibility, including links to teacher shortage areas in California and the rest of the United States and eligible schools, at ctamemberbenefits. org/studentloan. Don't consolidate! Prospective applicants need to know that they should not consolidate their student loans, because consolidation makes them ineligible for the forgiveness programs. (Consolidation bundles your loans with others' loans; that larger loan is taken over by private banks, not the federal government.) Many are unaware of this critical factor. An educator based in Oceanside, who pre- fers not to be named, took out loans while pursuing two master's degrees and a doctorate in K-12 curriculum and instruction. In 2006, after she received her doctorate, she consolidated her loans. Though she went on to work as a special educator in public schools, her consolidation meant she could no longer take advan- tage of forgiveness programs. "I had no idea that I would qualify for loan forgiveness," she says. "I was a CTA member at the time. My universities also did not readily provide this information. They help you get the loan, but after that you are on your own." Mabey agrees that there needs to be more awareness and dissemi- nation of information about the programs. "When you graduate, you're bombarded with offers to consolidate," he says. "If you're an engineer, that makes sense, but for people who go into education, consolidation means they are no longer eligible for loan forgiveness pro- grams that are out there." An incentive to teach More awareness of the forgiveness programs could provide a real incentive for people enter- ing the field and staying in it. The programs are a win-win for both individual educators and the schools and subjects they work in. Mabey urges prospective applicants not to be put off by the complex paperwork and application process. "For 80 to 90 percent of people, you teach for five years at a high- need school, have your administrator sign that paperwork, and you're done," he says. He adds that if you're an educator in the midst of fulfilling your five-year teaching obligation before applying to a forgiveness program, you should check if you qualify for one of the plans available that may lower your monthly student loan payment based on your income. "Try to get your payments as low as pos- sible," he says. "You need to strike a fine balance between fulfilling your obligations as a borrower and maintaining as much of the loan as possible to be forgiven." Eligibility for the forgiveness programs has no end date. Mabey says, "I have had some people come to me after a workshop and say, 'I taught nine years at one of the low-income schools or in one of the shortage fields. I didn't consolidate my loans. Am I eligible?' I say, 'Yes!'" You can learn more about other Member Benefits trainings and more exclusive Member Benefits at and You can also contact the CTA Member Benefits department at (650) 552-5200 if you are interested in arranging a training for your local. 1. Check with CTA Member Bene- fits, which can point you to information, loan forgiveness applications and resources, at studentloan. 2. Look into NEA's Degrees Not Debt program aimed at making higher education costs afford- able and lowering loan pay- ments based on your income, at or 3. Connect with NEA's Student Program at 4. If you're still in college, ask your financial aid office for information. 5. Locate your paperwork at the National Student Loan Data System at LEARN MORE • English/drama/humanities • History/social science • Mathematics/computer education • Science • Self-contained class • Special education (including state special schools) CALIFORNIA'S TEACHER SHORTAGE AREAS FOR 2015-16 Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education 55 V O LU M E 2 0 I S S U E 2 CTA & You

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