Forgivable education loans in the Carolinas explained

Heidi Finley

Photo courtesy of Elon University

Carolina students who are dedicated to careers in health or education in their home states may investigate whether forgivable education loans fit with their plans.

In North Carolina, the Forgivable Education Loans for Service program targets students planning to work in professions with a critical employment shortage, the College Foundation of North Carolina says.

The program allows for up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness for bachelor’s degrees. Students should carefully consider their plans, however, as those who do not fulfill the requirements of the program they received a loan under must repay the amount plus interest.

For the 2018-19 school year, the complete list of approved education plans in North Carolina’s Forgivable Loans for Service program includes undergraduate fields of study such as dental hygiene, emergency medical science and LPN, ADN, BSN or higher-level nursing program. Loan forgiveness is available for graduate study, as well.

Students working on undergraduate teaching degrees in sciences such as biology, chemistry or physics, or high-needs areas such as math, special education or foreign languages are included.

The program features a list of eligible institutions that encompasses public community colleges, UNC campuses and private nonprofit schools.

Applications are due March 1 and can be found along with more information at

Who is eligible? 

  • North Carolina residents who have a 3.0 weighted GPA as a graduating high school student or a 2.8 GPA as an undergraduate.
  • Students must enroll in at least six credit hours in an approved program at an eligible institution and maintain satisfactory academic progress.
  • Students must stay in North Carolina and work in a profession corresponding with an approved program.
  • Students must not be in default or owe a refund in any federal or state loan or grant program.
  • Students must be registered with Selective Service, if applicable.

How does it work upon graduation?

In a teaching program: A borrower must obtain licensure and full-time employment in a qualified position a North Carolina public school or charter school to qualify for loan forgiveness.

In nursing: A borrower must obtain licensure from the North Carolina Board of Nursing, provide medical services to North Carolina residents and practice on the level of nursing in his or her education program. For example, a nurse who was approved for RN-level program funds would not quality for loan forgiveness by working as an LPN.

In allied health: A borrower must obtain licensure from the licensing board applicable to his or her field of study and work in a qualified position to provide services to North Carolina residents.

South Carolina teacher loans

In South Carolina, a similar program focuses solely on certified teachers.

Borrowers who receive an SC Teachers Loan or an SC Pace Loan for alternative certification are eligible for loan forgiveness if they teach in a “critical geographic school” or a “critical subject area.”

The State Board of Education changes designations annually. The South Carolina Student Loan program says it’s the recipient’s responsibility to confirm a school’s designation before accepting employment.

For the 2017-18 school year, critical subject areas included secondary math, secondary science, along with foreign languages, art and music.

If the subject area a borrower designates as a student falls off the list, the South Carolina Student Loan program says the subject area will be honored as long as other eligibility criteria is met.

Loan forgiveness applications that are due for employed loan holders at the end of each school year and more information is available at


Heidi Finley is the editor of Carolina College Bound. Send questions or suggestions to