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Local public and private school teachers are eligible for federal student loan deferment and cancellations retroactive to the 2004-2005 school year, as the V.I. Department of Education has once again received approval for its designated teacher shortage area proposal, according to Human Resources Director Nicole S. Jacobs.

Teaching professionals with outstanding FFEL (Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program Program loans as of July 1, 1993 will qualify for deferment of loan repayment under the Federal Stafford Program anytime within the life of the their loan(s). The proposal enables Federal Perkins Loan borrowers who are full time teachers of mathematics, science, foreign languages, bilingual education -- or any other field of expertise where the Department determines there is a shortage of qualified teachers -- to qualify for cancellation of up to 100% of their loan. The proposal further enables scholars to qualify for the reduction of their teaching obligation under the Paul Douglas Teacher Scholarship Program.

Teachers do not have to be certified or licensed to receive cancellation benefits. However, they must be considered by the Department to be a full-time professional for the purposes of salary, tenure, and retirement benefits.

Teacher cancellations may be received for services performed in a private academy if the private academy has established its nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and if the academy is providing elementary and/or secondary education according to state law. To obtain a teaching deferment, candidates must submit a deferment form to their lender for each school year of teaching service. Teachers should contact the Department’s Office of Human Resources to get the form certified. Teachers must reapply each school year for a targeted teaching deferment.

Teachers qualify for cancellation (discharge) of up to 100 percent of a Federal Perkins Loan if they have served full time in a public or nonprofit elementary or secondary school system as a teacher in the subject areas determined by the Department to have a shortage of qualified teachers.

For more information about teaching deferments for the FFEL Program, consult your promissory note, and contact the lender or guarantor holding your loan, or the Department’s Office of Human Resources. Direct Loan borrowers should contact the Direct Loan Servicing Center at 1-800-848-0979. Federal Stafford/SLS borrowers with questions concerning their loans, including the teacher shortage area deferment, can also call the Federal Student Aid Hotline at 1-800-4FED-AID.

Areas approved and designated by the Federal Government as Teacher Shortage Areas for the US Virgin Islands are as follows: Art, Bilingual/English as a Second Language (ESL), Elementary Education, English, Foreign Languages, Mathematics (7-12), Music, Physical Education, Reading, School Nurse, Science, Social Studies, Special Education, and Therapists (OT, PT, ST).

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