Do you plan on becoming a teacher once you earn your college degree? If so, then you just might be eligible for some grant money that can reduce your college debt load. As long as you want to be a teacher in a subject that is considered a high-need area, and you can commit to teaching for a period in a low-income school, then the TEACH grant can help lower you college expenses.
What Is The TEACH Grant?
As you probably have gleaned from its name, the TEACH grant is only available to college students who are working towards a degree and career in teaching.
Short for Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education, the TEACH Grant aims to help make college more affordable for people who want to teach in areas of need. Unlike a lot of other grants, students are required to take certain kinds of classes at college in order to even get the grant. And after getting the grant, a certain kind of job is necessary in order to keep the grant from turning into a student loan.
Those who qualify for this grant can get up to $4,000 a year to help with the costs of college. This is great because it reduces the amount of student loans needed to pay for that costly college tuition.
TEACH Grant Requirements and Qualifications
To qualify for this grant, you have to commit to teaching for a period of four years at a low-income school. And, your area of expertise must be in a subject that is considered high-need.
Additionally, you have to meet the following requirements:
- Meet the basic eligibility criteria for the federal student aid programs.
- Complete the FAFSA
- Be enrolled as an undergraduate, postbaccalaureate, or graduate student at a school that participates in the TEACH Grant Program.
- Be enrolled in a TEACH-Grant-eligible program.
- Meet certain academic achievement requirements (generally, scoring above the 75th percentile on one or more portions of a college admissions test or maintaining a cumulative GPA of at least 3.25).
- Receive TEACH Grant counseling that explains the terms and conditions of the TEACH Grant service obligation. (Required each year that you receive a TEACH Grant.)
- Sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve.
If you do not fulfill your service obligation for the specified period at the required type of school, then the grant converts to a Federal unsubsidized loan. This means that you then have to repay the full amount to the U.S. Department of Education. And even worse, interest is charged dating from the disbursement date of the TEACH Grant.
What Are The TEACH Grant High Need Fields?
If you want to ensure that you choose a subject for teaching that is high need, you can refer to the list below. It contains the fields that have been identified as high-need.
- bilingual education and English language acquisition
- special education
- foreign language
- reading specialist
- any other field that has been identified as high-need by the federal government, a state government, or a local education agency, and that is included in the annual Teacher Shortage Area Nationwide Listing (Nationwide List).
Note that if you are using the Nationwide List, then you must confirm that your desired field is listed for the state where you teach either at the time you begin your qualifying teaching service or at the time you received a TEACH Grant.
How To Find Low-Income Area Schools
Since you need to teach at a school that serves low-income students, it is important to identify a few of those in your state.
The best way to do that is to use the Teacher Cancellation Low-Income Directory. This directory is updated each year. And if you want to work at a school that is operated on Indian reservations by Indian tribal groups under contract or grant with the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), then you can consult with the BIE directly.
Can The Service Obligation Be Suspended Or Canceled?
The TEACH grant requires that you teach for four years at a low-income area school within the immediate eight years after completing (or ceasing enrollment in) the course of study for which you received the grant.
However, there are a few situations where you can have that obligation suspended for a temporary period.
- if you enroll in another TEACH-Grant-eligible program or your enrollment in a program that a state requires you to complete in order to receive a certification or license to teach in that state’s elementary or secondary schools.
- if you meet a qualifying reason under the Family Medical Leave Act
- if you are called to active duty status for more than 30 days
If you do qualify for a suspension, then you should know that they are only granted on a one-year term. And, total suspension time cannot exceed a combined total of three years for the first two conditions listed above, or a total of three years for the third condition.
If you die or if you become totally and permanently disabled, then your obligation is canceled in full.
If you are called to active military duty for a period greater than three years, then you can also see your some or all of your obligation discharged.