Federal Student Loan Forgiveness


Public, school, and academic libraries across the nation face a great deal of turnover in their senior librarian positions, as a significant number of librarians reach the age of retirement. Some facts:

  • Libraries employ around 367,000 librarians and other professionals, paraprofessionals, clerical and technical personnel nationwide and technical personnel nationwide.
  • More than 3 in 5 librarians are age 45 or older and will become eligible for retirement in the next 10 years.
  • Approximately 25 percent of America’s school libraries do not have a state certified school library media specialist on staff.

In light of this, the ALA Washington Office has worked to increase opportunities for students to attend library school and to improve diversity in the profession, while recognizing the major investment this represents for students in the face of challenging economic times and an unpredictable entry-level job market. One of the ways we have worked to ease this burden is to push for loan forgiveness for librarians.

Congress passed legislation providing federal student loan forgiveness for librarians. The following information explains the loan forgiveness provisions enacted by the legislation and where further details about loan forgiveness programs for librarians can be found.

Additional information concerning student eligibility in obtaining federal loans can be found in the Department of Education’s Student Aid on the Web.

Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008    

Perkins Loans Forgiveness

Federal Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation – P.L. 110-115, the Higher Education Opportunity Act extended current law Perkins loan forgiveness (which is subject to appropriations and available for borrowers who work in specific public service jobs) to additional categories of borrowers who meet eligibility criteria and work as librarians, prekindergarten or child care workers, full-time faculty at tribal colleges or universities, and speech and language therapists.  Specifically, the language includes service as a librarian with a master's degree working in:

  • An elementary or secondary school eligible for assistance under title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; or
  • A public library serving an area containing an elementary or secondary school eligible for assistance under title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

See this link for additional information on Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation:  http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/cancelperk.jsp

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program was created to encourage individuals to enter and continue to work full-time in public service jobs (including public library services and school library or other school-based services).  Under this program, you may qualify for forgiveness of the remaining balance due on your eligible federal student loans after you have made 120 payments on loans under certain repayment plans while employed full time by certain public service employers.  See this link for additional information on Public Service Loan Forgiveness:  http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/PSF.jsp

Under the program, the Secretary of Education shall forgive the following:

  • The remaining loan balance for a borrower who has been employed in a public sector job and making payments on such loans for a period of 10 years (which need not be consecutive);
  • Such borrowers shall be eligible to have one tenth of the remaining loan balance forgiven for each of the 10 years in which the borrowers have made payments.

You qualify to benefit from the College Cost Reduction Act if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are currently employed as a librarian with an undergraduate or masters degree and you obtained a Direct Loan* during your studies;


  • You have been employed as a librarian for 10 years or more and have made consistent payments on your loan.

* Direct Loans are Direct Stafford loans (Subsidized or Unsubsidized), Direct PLUS loans, and Direct Consolidation loans.

Consolidation of loans may lead to disqualification from any of the above programs. Check with your borrower before deciding upon consolidation plans.

Other Resources    

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