Great Lakes is a federal student loan servicer that helps borrowers better understand their loan and set up a repayment plan. If you want to pursue student loan forgiveness, it’s important to note that there isn’t a specialized Great Lakes loan forgiveness program. As a federal loan servicer, however, Great Lakes offers eligible borrowers standard federal student loan forgiveness options.
What is Great Lakes student loan forgiveness?
Student loan forgiveness is possible through a variety of programs. Borrowers who meet certain criteria — like working within a specific profession or for a government-run or nonprofit organization — wouldn’t have to repay part or all of their eligible federal student loans.
Here’s a closer look at some of the Great Lakes loan forgiveness programs that could be available to you.
Income-driven repayment forgiveness
You can apply for an income-driven payment plan to keep your Great Lakes student loan payment at an affordable amount based on your earnings and family size. The federal government offers four income-driven repayment (IDR) plans:
- Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE)
- Pay as You Earn (PAYE)
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
- Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
To qualify for Great Lakes student loan forgiveness, you’ll need to switch from your current student loan repayment plan to an IDR plan. Under an IDR plan, you’ll pay 10% to 15% of your discretionary income for 20 to 25 years. After completing your repayment term, your remaining student loan balance is forgiven.
The caveat, however, is that the forgiven student loan amount is considered taxable income. If you choose to pursue an IDR plan with student loan forgiveness, make sure to prepare for this tax liability to avoid any surprises.
Check out Student Loan Planner’s IDR calculator to determine which income-driven repayment plan makes the most sense for you.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
- Made 120 qualifying payments
- Made the payments under a qualifying IDR plan
- Worked full-time for a qualifying employer when you made the 120 payments
Qualifying employers for PSLF include nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations, such as major academic hospitals, foundations, private, nonprofit universities and the Red Cross. If you work for a local, state or federal government agency, you could also qualify for the PSLF program.
If you decide you want to apply for PSLF, and you qualify, then you need to certify your employment and move your Great Lakes student loans to FedLoan Servicing immediately. FedLoan Servicing is the only federal student loan servicer that’s set up to track PSLF program payments. Fill out the free Public Student Loan Forgiveness form to start the employment certification process. Complete this form annually or when you change employers to track your progress toward PSLF.
After making 120 qualifying payments, submit your Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Application for Forgiveness (PSFL application). The IRS does not consider amounts forgiven through the PSLF program income, which means you do not have to pay federal tax on your forgiven loan balance.
Great Lakes Teacher Loan Forgiveness
If you teach full-time for five complete, consecutive academic years in a low-income elementary or secondary school, or at an educational service agency, you could be eligible for the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program, which forgives up to $17,500 on your Direct Loan or FFEL Program loans. Low-income schools and educational service agencies are listed in the Teacher Cancellation Low Income Directory, which the U.S. Department of Education publishes every year.
The $17,500 maximum loan forgiveness is for:
- Highly qualified full-time mathematics or science teachers who taught students at the secondary school level
- Highly qualified elementary or secondary school special education teachers whose primary responsibility was to teach children with disabilities
Borrowers who don’t teach math, science or special education could receive up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness if they’re a highly qualified full-time elementary or secondary school teacher.
You can apply for teacher loan forgiveness once you’ve finished the required five consecutive years of qualifying teaching. You’ll have to submit a Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application to Great Lakes. The chief administrative officer at the school or educational service agency where you worked will have to complete the certification section.
If you have more than one federal student loan servicer, you will need to submit a form to each one. Teacher loan forgiveness is not taxable.
Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation
Great Lakes borrowers could be eligible to have part or all of their Federal Perkins Loan, given by their school based on financial need, canceled depending on their profession or volunteer service. The Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation also falls under this category.
Federal Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation
Borrowers who work in special education, math, science, foreign language, bilingual education or any field of expertise a state education agency deems to have a shortage of qualified teachers for in that state are eligible.
Borrowers can have a portion of their loan canceled for every full academic year (or its equivalent) of full-time teaching service. An “academic year” is one complete school year or two half-years that took place during different school years. Those two half-years must be complete and consecutive, however, and typically take place within a 12-month period.
The amount of the Perkins Teacher Loan can be canceled in the following increments for eligible Great Lakes borrowers:
- 15% per year for the first and second years of service
- 20% for the third and fourth years
- 30% for the fifth year
Meanwhile, full-time staff members in the education part of a Head Start program or a state-regulated pre-kindergarten or childcare program are eligible for up to 100% cancellation for seven years of eligible service (at a rate of 15% per year for the first six years and 10% for the seventh year).
Other Perkins Loan cancellation eligible professions
There are several other professions and services besides teaching that would make you eligible for a full or partial Perkins Loan cancellation — depending on what kind of loan you have and the loan’s date. Employees in the following professions are eligible to have 100% of their Perkins Loan canceled within five years of eligible service:
- Employee at a child or family services agency
- Faculty member at a tribal college or university
- Law enforcement officer
- Librarian with a master’s degree at a Title I school
- Military service
- Nurse or medical technician
- Professional provider of early intervention (disability) services
- Public defender
- Speech pathologist with a master’s degree at a Title I school
Members of the U.S. armed forces who served in a hostile or imminent danger pay area are also eligible for Perkins Loan cancellation. How much of their Great Lakes loan can be canceled depends their years of service and when they served:
- Up to 50% for four years (at a rate of 12.5% per year) of eligible service for borrowers whose active duty service ended before Aug. 14, 2008
- Up to 100% for five years of eligible service for borrowers whose active-duty service includes or began on or after Aug. 14, 2008
Meanwhile, AmeriCorps VISTA or Peace Corps volunteers are eligible for a Perkins Loan cancellation of up to 70% for four years (at a rate of 15% for the first and second years and 20% for the third and fourth years) of eligible service.
Applying for Great Lakes loan forgiveness
Applying for student loan forgiveness can require attention to detail. Between gathering your information and adhering to eligibility requirements, it can get confusing and maybe even stressful. You don’t have to do it alone, however. Student Loan Planner has a team of experienced consultants ready to help you through the student loan forgiveness process. Get in touch with us today for your student loan consult.