When Tanya graduated with her master’s, she didn’t know what to expect from her student loans. This was her first time taking out loans for school — and from the outside looking in, paying off her debt seemed like it would be an easy process.
But navigating the student loan experience is not always that simple. She quickly realized it may be a challenge to find a repayment plan to fit her hectic life. “I’m working as an early childhood special education teacher full-time,” she explained, “and I’m a mom to two kids…. I just didn’t want to worry about the payments, and school, and teaching all at the same time.”
The more she learned about student loans and forgiveness plans, the more questions she had: “How do I know if I qualify? How do I fill out the form? What do I do?… It’s very hard to find out.” Looking for answers, Tanya attended a student loan training session with Education Minnesota (EdMN), where she learned more about the Teacher Loan Forgiveness (TLF) Program.
“I just didn’t want to worry about the payments, and school, and teaching all at the same time.”
She was already familiar with the program, but — like so many other borrowers — Tanya thought the TLF application process seemed like more trouble than it was worth. Similar to other loan forgiveness programs, the TLF application is filled with confusing language. And with the high amount of forgiveness possible through TLF (either $5,000 or $17,500 depending on eligibility), it may seem too good to be true. “I think it was very intimidating at first because you’re talking about money… I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I mean, $17,500 is a car.”
Hearing her concerns, the EdMN representative referred her to Summer. This year, Summer debuted our new online tool for TLF applications — the first and only of its kind. The tool guides applicants through every step of the process, from assessing eligibility, to filling out the form, to submission.
“I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I mean, $17,500 is a car.”
But even with our tool, it can sometimes take weeks or months for loan servicers to complete their review, and it’s easy for borrowers to lose steam. That’s why Summer provides direct one-on-one support, checking in regularly with updates and encouragement to keep borrowers engaged. “Had [Summer] not followed through, and kept communicating with me,” Tanya said, “I would have allowed it to drop.”
That level of support is especially helpful when applications get denied — and they often do. Not every teacher who applies for TLF is accepted the first time, even if they meet the requirements. Borrowers frequently see their TLF applications denied due to minor missteps, like punctuation errors or even the wrong date format. (Trust us, we’ve seen it all — and we know exactly what to look for.) Even if your application is denied, the Summer team is still in your corner, pushing back on rejected applications until they are accepted.
“Had [Summer] not followed through, and kept communicating with me, I would have allowed it to drop.”
After Tanya’s first application was denied, she shed some tears — but didn’t give up. She already knew that she may need to apply multiple times to get through. This time, her Summer student loan expert knew exactly what to fix before resubmitting.
She applied again — and she was approved. Her Summer student loan expert was thrilled to be the one to personally tell her the good news: the program had forgiven three-quarters of her loans, before she had even started making payments. In Tanya’s own words, “When I got the acceptance letter I cried again, because I was so happy.”
Using Summer’s new TLF tool, Tanya was able to receive $17,500 in forgiveness. Learn more about the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program and see if you qualify.
Want help with your student loans? Join Summer to see how you can save.