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Lew Wentz Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness

What You Need to Know

Overview of the Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan Program:

In order to provide Oklahoma schoolchildren with the best possible education, the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education has established a Debt Forgiveness Program, a merit and need based assistance initiative directed toward outstanding students in the College with significant debt associated with their education.  This program provides loan funds to postsecondary students who are completing or plan to complete coursework that is needed to begin a career in teaching, and who agree to serve for at least four years as a full-time, highly qualified teacher in a high-need field.  Eligible full-time students may receive $5,000 per year in Lew Wentz Foundation Loan funds, up to a maximum of $20,000 for undergraduate study.   If you receive a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan, but do not complete the required four years of teaching service within six years after completing the coursework for which you received the grant, or if you otherwise do not meet the requirements of the program, all remaining funds must be paid with interest, to the Foundation according to the terms of the agreement.

 

What you need to know before receiving Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Funds

You must sign a repayment Agreement before receiving a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan. The Agreement is a legally binding document that defines the teaching service obligations you must meet to be eligible for loan forgiveness.

By signing the Agreement you promise to meet the teaching service requirements of the Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan Program and to repay with interest the full amount of any Lew Wentz Foundation Loan if you do not meet those requirements.

By signing the Agreement, you agree:

  • to serve as a full-time, highly qualified teacher for at least 4 years  within 6 years of completing, or otherwise ceasing to be enrolled in, the program for which you received a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan,
  • to teach in a high-need content area or location, in the majority of classes that you teach during each school year,
  • to teach in Oklahoma.

Highly Qualified Teacher Status

As stated above, one of the conditions for fulfilling your Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan service obligation is that you must meet the requirements for a highly qualified teacher as defined by law. You can find out more about the highly qualified teacher requirements online (www.ed.gov/teachers/nclbguide/improve-quality.html).

Identifying Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan High-need Fields

More than half of your time teaching during each school year must be in a high-need field. For purposes of the Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan Program, high-need fields at the time of the loan for 2014-2015 are:

  • Mathematics,
  • Science,
  • World language,
  • Special Education,
  • Early Childhood Education,
  • Another field upon application as agreed upon by the College.

Completing the 4-year Service Obligation

It is important to understand that you must complete the 4-year teaching service obligation for which you received Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan funds.  The service obligation begins after you complete, or otherwise cease to be enrolled in, the academic program for which you received Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan funds.  You must complete your four year obligation within six years after completion.  The following examples illustrate the service obligation requirements described above:

Example 1

You complete an academic program for which you received a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan and immediately enroll in another qualifying academic program before you begin teaching. You request and receive a suspension of the six-year period for completing your service obligation for the first program (see “Temporary Suspension of the Service Obligation”) while you are enrolled in the second program. After completing the second program, you must complete four years of qualifying teaching service that will fulfill your service obligation for the initial program loan.

Example 2

You complete an academic program for which you received a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan and begin qualifying teaching service to satisfy your service obligation. After completing one year of qualifying teaching service, you stop teaching and enroll in a second academic program in a qualifying field. You request and receive a suspension of the six-year period for completing your service obligation for the first program while you are enrolled in the second program. After completing the second program, you must complete three years of qualifying teaching service that will fulfill your service obligation for the first program.

Example 3

You complete an academic program for which you received a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan and begin qualifying teaching service to satisfy your service obligation. After teaching for one year, you enroll in a second qualifying academic program. You enroll in the second program for two years, and during that period you continue to teach full time. The qualifying teaching service that you perform while enrolled in the second program will be applied to your service obligation for the first program.

Keeping Your Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan From Becoming YOUR loan:

To prevent your Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan from becoming YOUR Loan, it is very important that you complete your teaching service obligation and promptly respond to periodic requests for information from Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, OU Financial Aid Services, and the Lew Wentz Foundation.

You must provide documentation to the College at the beginning and end of each year of teaching. Staying in touch with the College can keep your loan from being converted to your responsibility before you are able to complete your teaching obligation.

Documenting Your Teaching Service Obligation

Unless you receive a suspension of the six-year period for completing the service obligation or your service obligation is discharged (see “Temporary Suspension of the Service Obligation,” and “Discharge of a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan Service Obligation”), you must confirm to the College in writing within 120 days after you have completed or are otherwise no longer enrolled in the program for which you received a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan that:

  • You are employed as a full-time teacher in accordance with the terms and conditions described above under “Signing the Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan Agreement to Serve”; or
  • You are not employed as a full-time teacher, but you intend to meet the terms and conditions of your service obligation.

See instructions on how to document your service obligation with the College.

Documenting the completion of the four years of required teaching service

After completing each of the four required school years of teaching service, you must provide the College with documentation of that teaching service on a form that will be available from the College. This form must be certified by the chief administrative officer of the school where you are teaching, and must confirm that for the specified year:

  • You were a highly-qualified teacher;
  • You taught a majority of classes in the high-need field for which you were approved.

Completing less than a full year of qualifying teaching service

If you do not complete a full school year of qualifying teaching service, but complete at least one-half of a school year, the half-year of teaching will be counted as one of your four required years of teaching service only if your school employer considers you to have fulfilled your contract requirements for the school year for purposes of salary increases, tenure, and retirement because you were unable to complete a full school year of teaching due to:

  • A condition covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA; You can view the conditions of the FMLA from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Website at: www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla/); OR
  • A call or order to active duty status for more than 30 days as a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces named in 10 U.S.C. 10101 or service as a member of the National Guard on full-time National Guard duty, as defined in 10 U.S.C. 101(d)(5), under a call to active service in connection with a war, military operation, or national emergency (Forces named in 10 U.S.C. 10101 include: The Army National Guard of the United States, the Army Reserve, the Navy Reserve, the Marine Corps Reserve, the Air National Guard of the United States, the Air Force Reserve, and the Coast Guard Reserve).

Teaching at more than one qualifying school

If you teach at more than one qualifying public school during a school year, that year of teaching will count as one of the required four school years of teaching service if you provide the College certification from one or more of the chief administrative officers of the schools involved that the combined teaching is the equivalent of one school year of full-time employment, and if all of your teaching was in one or more of the high-need fields as defined in this document.

Temporary Suspension of the Service Obligation

In certain cases, you may be able to temporarily suspend the six-year time period for completing your teaching service obligation.  If you completed the academic program for which you received a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan, or you are otherwise no longer enrolled in the program, you may request a suspension of the six-year period for completing your service obligation based on:

  • Your enrollment in a program of study for which you would be eligible to receive a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan, or your enrollment in a program that has been determined by the College to satisfy the requirements for certification to teach in the state’s elementary or secondary school;
  • A serious health condition for self or family;
  • Being called or ordered to active duty status for more than 30 days as a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces named in 10 U.S.C. 10101 (listed on page 6), or service as a member of the National Guard on full-time National Guard duty, as defined in 10 U.S.C. 101(d)(5), under a call to active service in connection with a war, military operation, or a national emergency.

The conditions listed above are the only conditions under which you may receive a suspension of the six-year period for completing your service obligation.

Timeframe for submitting suspension requests

A request for a temporary suspension of the period for completing your service obligation must be received before any of the conditions that would cause your Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan to be converted to your responsibility.

You must submit a request for a suspension on a form that the College will provide, and you must include documentation supporting your request.

Time limit for suspension of the six-year period to complete the service obligation

Suspensions are granted in one-year increments and may not exceed a combined total of 2 years.

Discharge of a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan Service Obligation

The College will discharge your Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan financial obligation only under the following conditions:

  • The College receives acceptable documentation of your death; or
  • The College determines that you are totally and permanently disabled, and you meet certain additional conditions during a 3-year conditional discharge period.

If the College discharges your service obligation under one of these two conditions, neither you nor your family will be required to repay any Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan funds that you received.

Cancelling a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan

You may cancel all or part of a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan by notifying the College within 14 days after the date the University notifies you of your right to cancel all or part of the Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan, or by the first day of the university’s payment period, whichever is later (the university can tell you the first day of the payment period). If you notify the institution that you want to cancel a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan within this timeframe, the institution must return the Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan funds to the College.

If you ask your institution to cancel a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan outside the timeframe described above, but within 120 days of the Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan disbursement date, the institution may return the Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan funds to the College, but is not required to do so.

However, you may at any time request that the College convert a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan to a Lew Wentz Foundation Loan that you can then repay.

Repayment of the Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan, Commencement

Any Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan that you received must be repaid in full to the Lew Wentz Foundation.  Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loans shall not be eligible for cancellation if:

  • You request that a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan should not be cancelled.
  • You are no longer enrolled in a program for which you received a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan and did not notify the College within 120 days of ceasing enrollment that:
  • You are employed as a full-time teacher in accordance with the terms and conditions described in your Agreement; or
  • You are not yet employed as a full-time teacher as described in your Agreement, but you intend to meet the terms and conditions of your service obligation.
  • You do not complete the program for which you received a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan, and within one year after you cease enrollment
  • You have not been determined to be eligible for a suspension of the six-year period for completing your service obligation under one of the conditions previously described.
  • You have not reenrolled in a program for which you would be eligible to receive a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan; or
  • You have not begun qualifying teaching service as described above.
  • You completed the academic program for which you received a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan, but do not actively confirm to the College at least once each year that you intend to satisfy the service obligation.
  • You completed the academic program for which you received a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan, but did not begin or have not maintained qualifying employment within a timeframe that would allow you to complete your service obligation within the six-year period previously described (for example, if you have not begun qualifying teaching 2 ½ years after completing a program for which you received a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan, you would not be able to complete the required four years of teaching within six years after completing the program).

Any Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan is subject to the terms and conditions that apply to a Lew Wentz Foundation Loan under applicable laws and regulations, including the terms and conditions described in your Agreement, and will be reported to one or more national credit bureaus.

Terms

Interest Rate and Payment of Interest

Unless cancelled, you are responsible for repaying the full amount of the Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan, with interest. Interest will be charged from the date of each Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan disbursement. If a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan is converted to your responsibility, you will receive a six-month grace period on repayment that begins on the day after the grant is converted to a loan. The repayment period on the loan begins on the date the grant is converted into a loan. You do not have to make loan payments during the grace period, but interest will continue to accrue. The repayment period on the loan begins on the day after the end of the six-month grace period.

At the time a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan is due, you will be given the opportunity to pay the interest that has accrued. If you do not pay the accrued interest, it will be added to the loan principal balance when the loan enters repayment after the six-month grace period. This is called “capitalization.” Capitalization increases the unpaid principal balance of your loan, and the Foundation will charge interest on the increased principal balance.

The interest rate on your loan is a fixed rate. We charge interest on a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan that is converted to your loan during all periods, including deferment and forbearance periods.

Stay in Contact with the College

If your address, telephone number, or name changes at any time after you receive a Lew Wentz Foundation Oklahoma Teacher Debt Forgiveness Loan, you must notify the College.

Avoiding Delinquency & Default

If you think you might have a problem making the scheduled payments on your loans, contact the Lew Wentz Foundation immediately to discuss other repayment options and whether you might be eligible for a deferment or forbearance.

If you become delinquent in making payments on your loan, this could lead to default. You will be considered to be in default if (1) you do not make payments on the loan for at least 270 days; or (2) you do not comply with other terms of the loan and we reasonably conclude that you no longer intend to honor your repayment obligation.

If you default, the default will be reported to national credit bureaus and will significantly and adversely affect your credit history. A default will have additional adverse consequences as described below.

If you default:

  • We will require you to immediately repay the entire unpaid amount of your loan.
  • We may sue you, take all or part of your federal income tax refund and other federal or state payments, and/or garnish your wages so that your employer is required to send us part of your salary to pay off your loan.
  • We will require you to pay reasonable collection fees and costs, plus court costs and attorney fees.
  • You will lose eligibility for other federal student aid and assistance under most federal benefit programs.
  • You will lose eligibility for loan deferments.