Tennessee Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

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Updated on May 18, 2023

Are you one of the 862,200 Tennesseans grappling with student loan debt? If so, you’re not alone. With a whopping total of $31.4 billion in student loan debt statewide and an average debt of $36,418 per borrower, it’s clear that many are in need of a financial lifeline.

But don’t lose hope just yet. This article will guide you through both federal and Tennessee-specific loan forgiveness programs. These programs offer substantial aid to a wide range of professionals. While national debt cancellation plans are still up for debate, Tennesseans have several other options to lighten their student debt load.

If you’re under 35, you’ll find this particularly relevant. Over half of Tennessee’s indebted borrowers fall into this age group. Among these borrowers, 15.8% owe less than $5,000, while a larger 21.4% owe between $20,000 and $40,000, with an average debt of $28,626. A small yet significant 2.0% owe more than a staggering $200,000.

So, let’s dive in and uncover these opportunities. It’s time to take your first step toward financial freedom.

Related: State Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Tennessee State-Specific Loan Forgiveness Programs

The Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation (TSAC) and the Rural Health Association of Tennessee have teamed up to offer several programs. Their goal? To keep recent college graduates in the state and boost economic growth.

But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Here are the student loan forgiveness programs that Tennessee has up its sleeve to attract and retain professionals in high-demand fields:

Graduate Nursing Loan Forgiveness Program

Are you a full-time student? You could get up to $7,000 per year in loan forgiveness. Part-time students aren’t left out either, with $3,500 up for grabs.

To be eligible, you’ll need an unencumbered Tennessee nursing license and be enrolled at an eligible Tennessee school.

You should be pursuing a master’s degree or a post-master’s degree in a nursing education program.

Minority Teaching Fellows Program

This program offers loan forgiveness to eligible minority Tennesseans who want to become school teachers within the state.

To qualify, you’ll need to be a college junior, senior, or graduate student enrolled in courses that count toward teacher certification at an eligible Tennessee college or university.

You’ll also need to maintain a 2.5 GPA or higher and not already be a licensed teacher.

The program offers $5,000 each academic year for eligible applicants.

Tennessee State Loan Repayment Program

This program offers loan repayment assistance to eligible primary care practitioners. In return, you’ll need to provide two years of service in a rural community.

To qualify, you must work two years (full-time or part-time) for an eligible primary care provider.

Providers must be in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) or a facility designated as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) or Rural Health Clinic (RHC).

The program offers up to $50,000 in loan repayment assistance for an initial two-year service obligation.

Tennessee might not have as many state-specific programs as other states, but these programs offer significant help to professionals in high-need areas.

If you’re dedicated to serving communities in Tennessee, these programs could be your ticket to substantial relief from your student loan debt.”

Federal Relief for Your Student Loan Debt: What's Out There?

Tennesseans burdened with federal student loans, we’ve got good news. Several federal programs, thanks to the U.S. Department of Education, offer relief based on your income or profession.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

First on the list is the PSLF Program.

If you’re working full-time in a public service job (like government agencies, public schools, or nonprofits), you might qualify.

The aim? Make 120 qualifying student loan payments while working full-time for the government, a not-for-profit organization, or other qualifying employers. Then, say goodbye to your Direct Loans.

Income-Driven Repayment Plan Forgiveness Waiver

Then, there’s the Income-Driven Repayment Plan Forgiveness Waiver.

Starting in Spring 2023, if you’ve been making monthly payments or been in forbearance or deferment for 20 years or more, your remaining loan balance could be automatically wiped clean. This relief is thanks to an updated Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) account adjustment introduced in April 2022.

But take note, if you have FFEL or Perkins Loans, you might need to consolidate into a Direct Consolidation Loan to qualify for the IDR Waiver.

You can do this for free on the Federal Student Aid website, StudentAid.gov. But remember, refinancing federal loans with private lenders means you’re no longer eligible for this relief.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

Are you a teacher? The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program could be right up your alley.

If you’ve worked full-time for five consecutive years in a low-income school or educational service agency, your federal Direct or Stafford Loans could be forgiven.

Forgiveness amounts can reach up to $17,500 for highly qualified math, science, and special education teachers and up to $5,000 for other eligible teachers.

President Joe Biden’s Broad Debt Relief Plan

Finally, under President Biden’s student loan relief program, a significant reduction in the remaining balance on education loans could be on the horizon for many Tennessee residents.

This program could wipe out up to $20,000 of debt for Pell Grant recipients who meet certain income criteria and up to $10,000 for other qualifying borrowers with loans held by the federal government.

But hold on.

The application process is currently on hold due to a Supreme Court challenge. But don’t worry. The White House has extended the pandemic-related payment pause and interest rate freeze on loan payments.

Data from the Department of Education shows a considerable number of Tennesseans meet the eligibility could benefit from these federal student loan forgiveness programs.

The ball is now in the Supreme Court’s court. So, while the outcome is still up in the air, these federal programs offer a glimmer of hope for substantial student loan relief for those in Tennessee.

Bottom Line

Tennessee offers a few state-specific student loan forgiveness programs, providing significant aid to professionals dedicated to their communities. Despite uncertainties around Biden’s federal debt forgiveness plan, these state-focused initiatives remain accessible to eligible borrowers.

Staying on top of the latest in debt cancellation in Tennessee and federally is key. For the most current insights and opportunities, consider subscribing to our newsletter and make your journey to financial freedom informed and achievable.

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