Financial Assistance and Debt Relief for Teachers
Student loan forgiveness, grants, credit counseling, consolidation programs and tips for surviving on a teacher’s salary.
Choose Your Debt Amount
If you can read this, the saying goes, thank a teacher.
In fact, thank them twice if they’ve remained committed to the job of educating our kids while juggling their own student debt, salary deficiencies and the all-too-common practice of personally buying classroom supplies.
There is financial assistance for teachers, and for good reason. Teachers do great and important work and often the obstacles confronted along the way are daunting.
The programs to help teachers are a godsend in some cases and, unfortunately, still not enough to meet their needs in many others.
What’s clear is that the programs we will discuss shortly stem from recognition of the importance of teachers. They also stem from sobering realities about teacher salaries in America and statistics regarding student debt that do not require a proficiency in math to understand.
The 2021 National Education Association survey reported that 53% of teachers from the pre-kindergarten through Grade 12 levels took out student loans to get through their schooling, and an estimated 42% of teachers with more than a decade of experience are still carrying some of that debt. The average debt amount was $58,700 for over half of the teachers who took a student loan and still had a balance in 2021.
Clearly, that affects their ability to save and to pay off credit cards and other debt.
Getting on a salary track necessary to make those ends meet as a teacher often requires at least a master’s degree, but a Catch-22 comes along with that advanced sheepskin. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, student debt grows to an average of $66,000 for many of those completing master’s programs.
Of course, it doesn’t help that credit card debt is once again on the march in America. It grew by $46 billion in the second quarter of 2022, a 5.5% increase from the first quarter and a 13% jump from the second quarter a year ago. With teachers getting squeezed more than some other professions, managing credit card debt for many is among their biggest headaches.
Average Teacher Salaries
The average starting teacher salary in the United States for 2020-21 was $41,770 according to the NEA. That was a slight increase over 2019-20, but the association points out that when adjusted for inflation, starting teacher salaries were at their lowest level since the NEA started tracking them. Inflation-adjusted starting salaries, in fact, were $1,689 less than they were in 2008-09.
That salary number, mind you, was the average for starting teachers. NEA research showed more than 6,000 school districts nationwide in which the starting teacher salary was on the south side of $40,000.
No wonder financial assistance and debt relief for teachers are such crying needs. A starting teacher coming out of a four-year college is only beginning his or her educational journey, and that journey is expensive every step of the way.
The picture isn’t much prettier for teachers who’ve been at it for a while. The overall average teacher salary in 2020-21 was $65,293, according to the NEA, with a projection for an increase to $66,397 in the following year. But when inflation is factored in, teacher salaries have dropped by almost 4% over the last 10 years.
A July 2022 report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the drop in earnings for elementary and middle school teachers is one of the largest among occupations whose workers bring similar educational levels to their employment.
It’s no wonder many teachers feel the need to work second jobs during summer breaks. (Or that teachers react strongly to the suggestion that having “summers off” is a kind of perk you can’t put a price on.)
Recent statistics from the NEA show that in addition to writing curriculum, attending workshops and other school-related responsibilities, almost 16% of teachers have non-school jobs over the summer to help pay down student debt and credit card debt.
Paying off debt would be much easier, obviously, if salaries in the teaching profession didn’t severely lag when compared to so many other careers.
Teaching is often called a vocation. While there’s clearly satisfaction in making an enduring difference in young lives, that doesn’t pay the bills. Fortunately, there are programs that can help.
Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
The Biden Administration’s recently announced federal student loan debt forgiveness plan cancels up to $20,000 of debt for eligible borrowers across the board, and that includes teachers. That $20,000 figure applies to people who received Pell Grants during their education. Without a Pell Grant, the maximum available through the new loan forgiveness plan is $10,000.
Some income restrictions apply. Most of the forgiveness eligibility is for borrowers with an individual income of less than $125,000 or $250,000 for households, regardless of his or her Pell Grant status. And as we’ve seen, that doesn’t eliminate many teachers from eligibility, so it’s a good start. According to the U.S. Department of Education, many, if not most, borrowers will receive this new relief automatically. Others might need to apply to provide income data.
But for too many educators, the Biden plan will only scratch the surface of their student debt load. The good news is that there are more programs through which teachers can defray some of their student loan debt. In some cases, it can be forgiven completely.
The primary ones are Teacher Loan Forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. But there are others, including the Perkins Loan Cancellation for Teachers program, and state-sponsored student loan forgiveness programs.
Again, these programs offer government assistance for teachers and are for federal loans; if you need relief from a private loan, you must work that out with the lender.
Let’s have a look at each.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
These plans can relieve up to $17,500 in debt. To qualify, candidates must teach full-time for five consecutive years at a qualifying low-income elementary or secondary school.
Federal Direct and Stafford loans are eligible for student loan forgiveness under this program, which, upon examination, reveals itself as a two-edged sword. On one side, with its $17,500 limit, the Teacher Loan Forgiveness plan is not exceptionally generous, particularly as compared to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. On the other, Teacher Loan Forgiveness eliminates student debt twice as fast — five years, compared to 10 via the Public Service Loan program.
The Teacher Loan Forgiveness plan also treats teachers differently, depending on their discipline. Top-dollar forgiveness goes to secondary school math, science, and special education teachers. Debt forgiveness tops out at $5,000 for elementary school teachers and secondary school teachers who teach other subjects.
Here’s how it works. Teachers who have completed five years at qualifying schools submit a Teacher Loan Forgiveness Application to their loan servicer. An approved school official must fill out one section of the form. Teachers who served at more than one qualifying school must have a representative from each school complete that section.
These plans naturally carry some eligibility requirements:
- Full-time employment as a “highly qualified teacher” for five complete and consecutive academic years. Make sure one of those years is after the 1997-98 school year.
- You can’t have had an outstanding balance on Direct Loans or Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans as of Oct. 1, 1998.
- Employment at an elementary school, secondary school, or educational service agency that serves low-income students is required.
- The loan for which you are seeking forgiveness should pre-date the end of your five academic years of qualifying service.
One other caveat: Perkins loans and PLUS loans can’t be forgiven through this program.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
This is not just for teachers, but teachers are eligible. These plans are for those who work for any level of government or a qualifying nonprofit, including public schools or private nonprofit schools.
Work in one, or a combination, of the qualified fields for 10 years, make 120 on-time payments and the balance of your federal direct loan is canceled. The payments don’t even have to be consecutive. The program applies if you have enjoyed deferments or forbearance, and your eligibility doesn’t depend on working at a low-income public school.
Oh, and the loan amount you are forgiven under the PSLF plan isn’t taxable.
The program, though, has experienced some glitches. For that reason, it currently offers two temporary updates:
- Temporary Expanded PSLF (TEPSLF), which is available to debt holders in a PSLF who were mistakenly enrolled in the wrong repayment plan. This option, though, will only be available until the money allocated for it runs out.
- Limited PSLF Waiver, which allows borrowers to receive credit for past periods of repayments that otherwise wouldn’t qualify for PSLF. This opportunity is only available until October 31, 2022.
Nonetheless, PSLF can be an attractive program even if it isn’t quite as easy as saying, “Voila.” Some people organize their early careers around qualifying, but you should make sure your ducks are in a row. Indeed, the feds urge candidates to complete and submit the Employment Certification form as soon as possible. Don’t get years into your work life planning to take advantage of PSLF only to discover you’ve been on the wrong path or haven’t been following the program.
This is not idle speculation. The PSLF program started in 2007, which means the Department of Education didn’t begin ruling on the first applicants until 2017, after they’d fulfilled the 10-year requirement. The news is not comforting.
In what sounds a bit like a needle in a haystack story, only 10.1% of processed applications for PSLF, Temporary Expanded PSLF and the PSLF Waiver which were submitted after November 9, 2020, had been approved as of April 2022, according to the Department of Education.
On the bright side, the average balance of loans forgiven under PSLF was over $67,000 as of earlier this year.
So there’s a chance for teachers. But just know that according to the October 2021 numbers reported by the National Education Initiative, 73% of approved applications come from government workers. Word to the wise: Be diligent. Too few payments account for 59% of denials while 26% of denials are due to missing information.
As always, not everyone qualifies. If the PSLF program seems as competitive as the Hunger Games, it’s not far off. Generally, those who do qualify:
- work for a government agency or for a qualifying nonprofit
- work full-time for the agency or nonprofit
- have Direct Loans (or consolidate other federal student loans)
- repay their loans on an income-based plan
- make 120 qualifying payments.
When these and more specific requirements are fulfilled, the balance of the student-loan debt can be forgiven.
Perkins Loan Cancellation for Teachers
You could (eventually) get 100% of your Federal Perkins Loan forgiven under this program. But there are eligibility requirements.
- In most cases, you must work at a low-income school. To see if the school qualifies as low income, check out Student Aid’s online school database for the years you’ve been employed as a teacher.
- Even if the school doesn’t qualify you, it’s possible the subject taught will. Eligible courses include mathematics, science, foreign language, bilingual, special education, or a subject short on qualified teachers in your particular state.
- Forgiveness might also apply to private school teachers if their school has established nonprofit status. The school must provide elementary or secondary education in accordance with state law.
- You must have taken out a qualifying Federal Perkins Loan before September 30, 2017. Perkins loans taken out after September 30, 2017, when the program lapsed, are not eligible for cancellation.
The Perkins loan is forgiven in increments. The way it works: 15% per year in the first and second year; 20% in the third and fourth year; 30% in the fifth year. The amount forgiven includes interest accrued during that year.
State-sponsored Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
Some state and local governments have implemented student loan forgiveness programs for teachers who work in high-need areas. In that pursuit, the American Federation of Teachers’ searchable student loan forgiveness database is a teacher’s best friend.
Combining Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
In some cases, it might seem to make sense to try to fold two or more of your federal student loan debts into one forgiveness program. But you need to be careful and smart about it.
For example, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program allows you to consolidate your Direct Loan from the Department of Education (the lender) with your other federal student loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan. You’ll only need to make one payment per month that way, rather than several monthly payments to meet your obligations for each loan. In most cases, that one payment will be lower than the sum of the others.
And if you’ve converted your federal student loan debts into a Direct Consolidation Loan and applied for a Limited PSLF Waiver by October 31, 2022, your progress toward the required 120 payments won’t be disrupted. That’s good.
Trouble is, if you get a Direct Consolidation Loan after the PSLF Limited Waiver application deadline of October 31, 2022, the 120 qualifying-payments clock re-sets to zero. After that deadline, or if you already had a Direct Consolidation Loan and didn’t apply for the waiver during its availability, the first payment you make (or made) on the Direct Consolidation Loan will be No. 1 of that 120-payment obligation regardless of how many you made previously to pay off the Direct Loan. So, if you’re already far enough along toward the magic 120 number and you missed the waiver period, a consolidation loan probably doesn’t make sense.
You can combine a PSLF program with a Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness program, but it won’t help you with their eligibility timeframes. The five-year commitment to qualify for Teacher Student Loan Forgiveness is tacked on to the 10-year requirement for PSLF, so it’ll take 15 years. If 100% of your total student loan debt can be forgiven after 10 years through PSLF, what would be the point?
It’s possible, too, to combine a Perkins Loan Cancellation plan with Teacher Loan Forgiveness, but it only works if your combined student loan debt is less than $20,000.
Deciding Which Loan Forgiveness Program Is Best for You
It’s certainly understandable if you’re a little confused by the devils in the details of these loan forgiveness options. How do you know if you qualify for these plans? Which program is best for your particular financial situation? How much of your student loan debt can be forgiven?
Remember, the answer to that last question should sound $10,000-$20,000 better to you under the Biden Administration’s new student loan relief executive order.
Beyond that, there are several factors to consider when you’re choosing a forgiveness program, especially when it comes to the two primary plans (Teacher Loan Forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness). Taking advantage of one might affect your ability to take advantage of another.
- Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF) won’t cover as much student loan debt as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) does. But TLF offers its forgiveness more quickly.
- To qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, you must have Direct Loans. If you have Perkins Loans, you can consolidate them into the Direct Loan Program to make them eligible for PSLF, but then you’ll no longer qualify for Perkins Cancellation. If you want to participate in both programs, you shouldn’t consolidate their loans.
- As we noted earlier, you can’t receive a benefit under both the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program (which requires full-time teaching for five consecutive years at a qualifying low-income elementary or secondary school) and the PSLF program (which requires 10 years of professional employment) for the same period of teaching service. You’ll have to stack them, meaning it’ll take 15 years.
For more of those devilish details such as the application processes and to (hopefully) make your decision a little easier, here again are the links to three of the programs we’ve discussed:
Grants for Teachers
Grants and fellowships are out there for the taking when a teacher makes the effort to find and apply for them. While a grant might not help directly with student debt forgiveness, it can make a positive difference in a teacher’s financial life.
Check the web. Chances are, you’ll find grants and fellowships that fit the subject and level of the teaching you do. Whether you’re educating America’s youth about the humanities, science, math, technology, languages, or anything else, and whether you’re teaching in kindergarten, elementary school, secondary school or at a college or university, you can get help this way.
There are national grants, regional grants, and state grants. The NEA Foundation is a good place to start your search, as is DonorsChoose.org.
We’ll touch here on a few of the ways a grant or fellowship can ease some of the money burden for teachers and teachers-to-be.
TEACH Grant for College
TEACH stands for Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education. It may answer the needs of aspiring teachers trying to avoid having to repay a student loan once they’re out in the workforce.
It’s different from other grants in that it requires you to complete a teaching service agreement as a precursor to receiving the grant, which can top off at $4,000 per year for undergrad and grad students. Failure to meet the service obligation converts the TEACH grant to a loan that you must repay, interest included.
What is the TEACH Grant service obligation? You agree to spend four years teaching a high-need field in a low-income district after graduation. Teachers have eight years to complete the obligation. Failure to do so converts the grant into a loan.
- You must meet the basic criteria for federal student loan programs.
- You must complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form.
- You must be enrolled at a school that participates in the program.
- You must be in a qualifying teacher education program.
- You must meet certain academic achievement requirements such as scoring above the 75th percentile on a portion of the college admission test or carrying a 3.25 GPA.
- You must receive TEACH grant counseling on a yearly basis.
Most importantly, you must sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve or Repay, in which you agree to:
- Serve as a full-time highly-qualified teacher for four elementary or secondary school years at a school or educational service agency that serves low-income students.
- Teach in a high-need field.
- Complete the required four years of teaching within eight years after you graduate from or otherwise cease to be enrolled at the institution of higher education where you received your TEACH Grants.
In 2021, the Biden administration announced changes to the program in response to charges of mismanagement. The changes benefit teachers who may have failed to correctly complete annual certification paperwork, and it stipulates that the conversion from grant to repayable loan take place only after a teacher’s eight-year grace period expires.
Other Notable Grants for Teachers
Here is a partial list of grants for teachers:
- Stem – STEMgrants.com lists over 100 opportunities for grants in STEM. The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship (AEF) Program gives K-12 STEM teachers an opportunity to spend 11 months working for a federal agency.
- Humanities – The National Endowment for the Humanities has several grant programs geared toward language, literature, history, and the arts. The Philanthropic Ventures Foundation offers grants to music, theater, visual arts, and dance education.
- Professional development – The McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation provides grants for up to $10,000 per year for teacher development.
- Class achievement – The NEA Foundation has Student Success Grants of $2,000 and $5,000 available for members who teach in public schools. The funds are meant for classroom supplies.
Income-Driven Repayment Plans
Teachers can get debt relief through income-based repayment plans by applying to pay a lower monthly payment on their student loans, the idea being to put the savings toward other debts.
Of course, a monthly decrease in payments could add up to more interest due if the repayment period on the loan is extended.
The program lowers your payment based on your income and family size. The new payment is calculated on a percentage of your discretionary income and that percentage can change based on the repayment plan in which you participate.
Be advised that the Biden Forgiveness Program proposes that you pay just 5% of your discretionary income and that forgiveness would happen after 10 years, not 20. If the Biden plans survives what seems like a certain court battle, it would make a huge difference in the amount you repay and the time it takes to reach forgiveness.
In the meantime, here is a look at the current regulations for income-based repayment:
- REPAYE (Revised Pay As You Earn): Generally, 10% of your discretionary income for a period of 20 years (undergraduate) to 25 years (post graduate).
- PAYE (Pay As You Earn): Open to new borrowers only. Also 10% of your discretionary income for 20 years.
- IBR (Income Based Repayment): For new borrowers (on or before July 1, 2014) for a period of 20 years it’s 10% of your discretionary income but never more than the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan. For other borrowers it’s 15% for a period of 25 years.
- ICR (Income Contingent Repayment): Whatever is the lesser amount between 20% of your discretionary income or what you would pay on a repayment plan with a fixed payment over the course of 12 years, adjusted according to your income.
The plans take into account fluctuation in income and increases in family size. In all plans, the remaining loan balances are forgiven if your federal student loans aren’t fully repaid at the end of the repayment period.
Debt Relief Options for Teachers
Maybe a student loan forgiveness plan is taking too long. Maybe you’ve overextended yourself with your credit cards. Maybe you underestimated your ability to handle the mortgage on a house. It happens, especially on a teacher’s salary.
When the weight of your student loans along with your other debts becomes too heavy, you have avenues to explore for relief. Among them are:
- Debt Management Programs
- Debt Consolidation
- Personal Loans
- Home Equity Loans
- Balance Transfer Credit Card
- Payday Loans
Some will fit your financial situation better than others, but it’s smart to be aware of all your alternatives. Here’s a nutshell glance at them.
Debt Management Programs (DMP)
A debt management plan can be particularly useful when your high-interest credit card debt becomes too much. It can reduce the interest rate on your debt, lower your monthly payments and eliminate your credit card debt in 3-5 years.
The average interest rate on credit cards as of August 2022 is just over 19%, and that number increases significantly if you start missing payments. Miss a couple of those monthly payments and you could be looking at an interest rate of as much as 25%-30%. A debt management plan can reduce the interest rate you pay on your credit card debt to around 8%.
This isn’t a loan, and you can opt out of a DMP at any time. And it doesn’t matter if your credit score isn’t up to snuff; credit scores aren’t considered when you enroll in a debt management program.
DMPs are offered by nonprofit credit counseling agencies such as InCharge Debt Solutions, who work with your creditors to reduce interest rates and downsize your monthly payments to a manageable level. You can’t use a DMP to help with secured debts such as house or car payments. But your credit card debt, which is unsecured, can be disposed of in a handful of years.
Debt Consolidation Loans for Teachers with Bad Credit
Say you owe a total of $10,000 on four credit cards. A debt consolidation loan of $10,000 will pay them all off and reduce your monthly payments to one. You’ll have to lock up those credit cards and throw away the key for a while, but it’s a workable way to get debt relief with bad credit if you find the right lender.
The success of a debt consolidation loan depends on the interest rate on the loan being considerably lower than what the credit card companies have been charging you. Most banks, credit unions and online lenders offer debt consolidation loans covering a wide range of rates, so you’ll need to do some research to make sure you’ve found the loan that best fits your needs.
As an educator, your professional association/union or teacher-specific credit union might be the place to start your search for the lowest interest rate. The National Education Association (NEA) touts its loan program that can cover a wide variety of expenses.
Check the fine print, however. Even though the NEA is on your side, the bank’s underwriters take a dim view of risky loans. Rates range from modest to knee-melting, depending on the applicant. Still, it’s nice to know there’s a place that tries to have your back.
Even with some credit dings on your record, lenders will look favorably on your application if you are tenured. They understand that tenure means you’re a good risk to have a steady, reliable income.
And by the way, if your credit score is still in reasonably good shape (say, 680 or higher), a debt consolidation loan could be a smart move for you, too. You’ll only be making one payment a month at a lower rate than those credit card albatrosses have been charging you.
If the debt you owe is reasonably small, a personal loan of $3,000 or less from a bank, a credit union or an online lender usually won’t require you to put up collateral as long as you have a good credit score. As with other loans, though, the terms you’ll get will be harder to swallow if you have a record of missing payments on other financial obligations.
In a perfect world, you’ll find a personal loan that carries a single-digit interest rate, comes from a responsible underwriter who won’t try to up-sell you on taking a bigger loan than you need, and has a repayment period of at least three months. Again, if you are a member of a teacher-specific credit union, that’s probably the best place to start.
Teachers with bad credit committed to a personal loan should take the steps anyone else with troubled credit should do: Contact creditors about negotiating the removal of bad reports, and pay down or pay off outstanding balances (even if that might involve taking a part-time job).
Home Equity Loans
This is, essentially, a second mortgage. You can borrow against the equity in your home, which is the appraised value of your house minus the amount you owe on it. With a home equity loan, your rate, even with rough credit, will be lower than on a personal loan, and you’ll have longer to repay.
As we mentioned earlier, some credit unions solely service people in the education industry. Most of those offer home equity loans or home equity lines of credit (HELOC) designed specifically for teachers, often with no closing costs and no prepayment penalties. If you aren’t already a member, it’s worth looking into a local teacher’s credit union.
A home equity loan can be for a much larger sum than most personal loans, and it can be used for anything you want, including debt relief. However, as in other loans secured by collateral, a home equity loan means your home will be at risk until the loan is paid back. Miss payments, and you could lose it.
Balance Transfer Credit Card
A balance transfer card can consolidate your debt from other credit cards into a new account at a lower interest rate, sometimes even a 0% rate. The catch is that the balance on the new card has to be paid off in full during an introductory period, which usually is 12-18 months. If you don’t pay it off by then, the interest rate soars.
To qualify for a balance transfer credit card, you’ll need a good credit score, usually 680 or higher. And you’ll be charged a 3%-5% fee on whatever debt you transfer to the new card.
Your absolute last-ditch option would be a payday loan, or cash advance. Because they get you on the fees and the interest rates — especially if you roll over your loan — such advances can get cripplingly expensive fast. How expensive? Try an interest rate of 399%, which is the average for a payday loan. And it isn’t unheard of for a payday loan interest rate to reach 600%.
Here’s how they work. You fill out a registration form at a payday lending office, or online. Assuming you’re approved, you can either get the cash on the spot or have it deposited in your bank within a day or two. The deadline for paying back the loan is the next day you’re scheduled to get paid, usually within two weeks.
If you can’t pay it back by then, you can ask to roll the loan over until your next payday. But if you do, the already-high interest rate and finance charges will skyrocket.
The bottom line: Use one only in absolute emergencies, and only if you are cut off from all other areas of relief. You are far better off giving a nonprofit debt management program a try. Learn from professionals how you can consolidate your debts without a loan. And it helps to know that your credit score is not a factor for enrolling in a debt management program.
Ways for Teachers to Make Extra Money in the Summer
Summertime for teachers is not what some non-teachers like to imagine: pool rafts, Jimmy Buffett songs and banana daiquiris.
It’s hardly a three-month vacation. If teachers are fortunate enough to pad their income by teaching a summer session in their districts, that work is often in addition to their curriculum planning and other academic obligations.
If they’re not fortunate enough to make some extra money in their full-time profession, it’s good to know there are other options. None will make a teacher rich, but they can help pay down student loan and credit card debt.
The opportunities for teachers these days stretch beyond the following list, given how many businesses are hanging out “Help Wanted” signs and might settle for finding short-term solutions.
Unlike some lists that mention blogs (not sure where the startup money is in that), here’s a short list of more reasonable possibilities and more immediate income opportunities:
- Summer camps: Where there are kids, there is a need for adults who can supervise and relate to them. Camps are always interested in experienced teachers. You might find one that specializes in your particular area of interest, the arts, for instance.
- Seasonal work: You don’t have to live in a high tourist area to find businesses whose earning power spikes in the summer months. Amusement parks, landscaping, etc. Maybe it’s not exactly up your alley, but then again maybe a change of pace would be refreshing.
- Tutoring: And if you’re not necessarily looking for a change of pace, summer is a time for students who’ve been struggling with a particular subject to catch up and prepare for the next school year. Some tutoring can be done at your convenience, online. One place to start: Varsity Tutors, which links students and tutors in specialized areas that fit the needs of the former to the skills of the latter. Tutoring isn’t only a job option for summertime; it might bring additional income year ’round.
- Childcare work: Think of it as indoor summer camp with a different age group and, certainly, different responsibilities. In the right circumstances, it can be as fulfilling as teaching. Often the need for temporary help increases in the summer when kids are out of school.
- House/dog sitter/dog walker: OK, so maybe this is part of my personal agenda to find qualified and willing adults to make it easier for couples and families to leave home for a few days or to go on an extended vacation and not worry about the house or about putting the dog in a kennel. (My wife would sooner put me in a kennel than put our dog in one.) But I can tell you from experience there’s a need, especially in the vacation season, and the price for doing these jobs is going up.
- Restaurant work: Many restaurants are looking for workers they can count on these days. While it might not strike you as the most glamorous way to spend a summer, the pay is getting better (out of employer desperation) and some restaurants might even offer small signing bonuses. Reliability? Check. People skills? Check. Teachers have them both in ample supply.
Cost Breaks for School Supplies
Even if you’re not a teacher, you’re probably aware of the stories. Teachers often have to dip into their own pockets to pay for sorely needed school supplies. This doesn’t happen everywhere, but in some school districts it’s become more the rule than the exception.
Thankfully, there are discounts available for teachers to help them save money in 2022. Here are a few:
- Microsoft offers educators Office 365 Education and Microsoft Teams for Education for free, plus 10% off Windows devices.
- The New York Times offers a 50% discount on subscription fees.
- Barnes & Noble offers teachers a 20% discount on purchases made for classroom use. On Educator Appreciate Days, the discount is 25%.
- PBS provides free access to thousands of videos, lesson plans, games, and other materials for teachers who sign up for PBS LearningMedia.
- Michael’s offers 15% off the entire purchase price after you create a Michaels account and get verified as a teacher.
- K12 School Supplies offers up to 80% off on school supplies on clearance.
- Office Depot offers members of its Star Teacher program 10% back in Rewards on ink, toner, and paper, along with a number of other discounts.
- com offers 10% off on purchases.
- The Container Store offers discounts on storage and organization products for the classroom.
Many other businesses, including retail stores, offer both online and instore discounts available to teachers. And often, those discounts apply to items not related to the classroom, including deals for teachers at places such as Cole Haan, LL Bean, J Crew, Bonobos and others.
Get Help with Your Debt from Financial Professionals
Discount school supplies no doubt can help a teacher committed to making sure students have the tools for learning. But even at discounted prices, that’s money out of the pockets of teachers, who may still be short on salary and long on student debt or credit card debt.
Free nonprofit credit counseling can provide teachers with the professional direction and support necessary to manage their finances and get out from under debt.
Credit counselors have done their homework, too, and are prepared to evaluate your debt with you and explore the different debt-relief options available.
They can help teachers choose the best strategies for paying off debt and perhaps help more teachers remain in a challenging and vital profession where they are so sorely needed.
About The Author
Michael Knisley writes about managing your personal finances for InCharge Debt Solutions. He was an assistant professor on the faculty at the prestigious University of Missouri School of Journalism and has more than 40 years of experience editing and writing about business, sports and the spectrum of issues affecting consumers and fans. During his career, Michael has won awards from the New York Press Club, the Online News Association, the Military Reporters and Editors Association, the Associated Press Sports Editors and the Sports Emmys.
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- N.A. (2021, July) Student Loan Debt Among Educators: A National Crisis. Retrieved from https://www.nea.org/sites/default/files/2021-07/Student%20Loan%20Debt%20among%20Educators.pdf
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