Loan Forgiveness Programs for California Teachers

California teacher working with students using tablets in a classroom setting

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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 areas.

APLE Grants on Hold

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 had to work full-time and with no breaks in service. A graduating teacher had to complete their 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.

The APLE program still technically exists, but no new applications have been accepted for the program since the 2011-2012 school year. 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.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

Like APLE, this program administered by the U.S. Department of Education intends to encourage college students to enter and stay in the teaching profession.

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 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 5 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.

Previously, borrowers had to pay taxes on most student loan debt that was forgiven or discharged. However, student loan debt forgiven between 2021 and 2025 is tax-free because of provisions in the American Rescue Plan of 2021.

Other Loan Repayment Programs for Teachers

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program forgives the remaining balance on Federal Direct Loans after 10 years. You don't have to be a teacher to qualify, and if you are, you don't have to teach at a low-income or public school.

Most people employed as full-time elementary and secondary school teachers will qualify for this program. It requires you have Direct Loans, and you must make consecutive payments for 10 years to be eligible. 

The Perkins Loan cancellation program for teachers forgives up to 100% of Federal Perkins loans for those teaching full-time at low-income schools or who teach certain subjects.

Article Sources

  1. California Student Aid Commission. "Assumption Program of Loans for Education (APLE) for District Interns Fact Sheet."

  2. California Student Aid Commission. "Assumption Program of Loans for Education."

  3. Federal Student AId Office of the U.S. Department of Education. "Wondering Whether You Can Get Your Federal Student Loans Forgiven for Your Service as a Teacher?"

  4. "H.R. 1319," Pages 182-183.

  5. Federal Student Aid Office of the U.S. Department of Education. "Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)."

  6. Federal Student Aid Office of the U.S. Department of Education. "You May Be Eligible to Have All or a Portion of Your Federal Perkins Loan Canceled (Based on Your Employment or Volunteer Service) or Discharged (Under Certain Conditions)."