Loan Forgiveness Programs for California Teachers

How can California teachers get their student loans forgiven?

Teacher and students looking at tablet
Teacher and students looking at tablet. Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

The California program that repaid teachers for their student loans — known as the Assumption Program of Loans for Education or APLE — was designed to encourage teachers and teachers-in-training to relocate and teach in underserved public schools and subject area.

Although the program still technically exists and still is processing paperwork and payments for existing APLE participants, it no longer accepts new applicants.

However, there are several other avenues that California teachers can consider when looking for student loan forgiveness in exchange for teaching in underserved areas or subjects.

California APLE Loan Forgiveness Program

The APLE program forgave up to $11,000 in student loans in exchange for four years of teaching at eligible schools. Teachers in the program must work full-time and with no breaks in service. A graduating teacher had to complete his or her first year of teaching within 24 to 36 months of graduation.

An additional $8,000 of teacher loan forgiveness was available for the following teachers:

  • An additional $1,000 per year ($4,000 max) for teaching special education, science, and math.
  • An increase from $1,000 to $2,000 per year ($8,000 max) if the school is in the bottom 20% of California's API score.

Eligible schools included those with a high concentration of low-income students, low test scores, and high levels of emergency credentialed teachers.

Rural and special state schools also were eligible. Eligible subject areas included special education, English, math, foreign languages, and science.

Alternative Loan Repayment Programs for Teachers

Even though California has discontinued new applications for its APLE program, there are still ways that California teachers can access programs that provide student loan repayment.

The federal government offers two such programs.

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, which is operated by the U.S. Department of Education, is intended to encourage college students to enter and stay in the teaching profession.

To that end, if you teach full-time for five years in underserved elementary and secondary schools (including all schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education), and you meet other specific requirements, you become eligible for up to $17,500 in forgiveness for your direct subsidized and unsubsidized student loans, including Federal Stafford Loans. You can't apply for the program until you have completed five full years of teaching.

Both new teachers and teachers who have been in the classroom for some time are eligible to participate in the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. However, those with only federal PLUS Loans are not eligible for loan forgiveness under this program. In addition, school administrators are not eligible. Those participating must be full-time teachers in underserved schools.

Finally, some teachers with loans from the Federal Perkins Loan Program who are teaching in underserved schools or subject areas may be eligible to have their loans forgiven.

This program also offers loan deferment for certain teachers. For more information, contact the school that made your loan.