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'Everything I invested was for the children:' Teachers, graduate school loans eligible for loan forgiveness

A retired teacher wrote into First Coast News saying she's still paying off her student loans.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — About half of all teachers have student loan debt, according to the National Education Association. A teacher who retired in May reached out to First Coast News for help. 

Even in retirement, Riva Newton is paying back student loans, but her loans may be eligible for forgiveness.

The NEA reports educators have about $58,700 in student loan debt on average. 


Newton wrote in asking "Does student loan forgiveness include public school educator graduate loans?"


Let's split this question in 2 focusing on graduate school loans and then specifically student loans for teachers.

Both are yes! 


  • US Department of Education office of Federal Student Aid
  • Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona
  • Kyle Boston, Chief Investment Officer at First Coast Financial Group

"Everything I invested was for the children," Newton said. She taught in public education for 22 years. 

When the Biden Administration announced loan forgiveness, she only heard about undergraduate loans.

“I thought what about the hundreds of thousands of dollars that some people have that went all the way through their doctorate?" said Newton. "I only have 40. I have a little under $40,000 I owe.”

Yes, Biden's program covers graduate school loans.

“Here’s the catch. It has to be a federal loan," Kyle Boston said. "So private loans don’t qualify for the cancellation.”

Graduate student loans fall under the same rules, if eligible, for up to $10,000 in debt forgiveness or $20,000 if the borrower had a Pell grant.

What about teachers specifically? 

“Teachers work really hard. I would know. My wife is actually a teacher!" said Boston.

He says there are two main options outside of President Biden’s plan that teachers can take advantage of.

“The Public (Service) Loan Forgiveness program," Boston explained. "That’s for federal loans and that’s for 10 years of service.”

If eligible, that program will forgive your remaining loan balance after you make 10 years of payments (or 120 payments) and work in the public sector for that time.

Here's more information on the requirements here.

NEA has criticized this program saying majority of applicants are rejected as ineligible.

There is also a Teacher Loan Forgiveness program.

“What that one covers is essentially 5 years of service as an educator in a low income school," said Boston.

That program forgives up to $17,500 of certain loans. There are very specific requirements for this one.

Boston says you could potentially qualify for both of these programs, but not at the same time. 


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