College students looking to pursue a professional career as an educator should consider getting a TEACH Grant.
The grant – called the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education in full – is something of a financial aid hybrid: part educational grant and part forgivable loan.
To get better acquainted, here are six key things to know about TEACH Grants:
How to Qualify for the TEACH Grant
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the $4,000 per-year grant is available to college students who are enrolled at a TEACH Grant eligible college or university and who are studying to be an educator.
The college student must agree to several service obligations, as follows:
- Teach low-income students for four full academic years
- Teach in a high-need field
- Teach for at least four full academic years within eight years of graduating or leaving college
- Meet specific academic requirements.
The academic requirements generally mean grading out above the 75th percentile on a college admissions exam or having a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 or higher.
The service obligation must be completed within eight years of graduating. If not, the grant automatically turns into an unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford loan, which must be repaid in full, with interest accruing from the date of every TEACH Grant disbursement.
That’s a significant issue, as having a free grant turn into a repayable loan may add tens of thousands of dollars to your student loan burden.
How to Apply for the TEACH Grant
To obtain a TEACH grant, the applicant must complete and sign a TEACH Grant application form. You can get an application from your school’s financial aid office. Ask first, though – a financial aid staffer should be able to tell you if your college is TEACH Grant eligible.
- Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and be sure to include your college’s federal school code. (If you don’t know, the financial aid office can tell you.)
- Complete and sign your college or university’s Agreement to Serve form. Make sure to include your college as the school to notify.
- Finish the TEACH Grant initial counseling session, which certifies that you know and understand the obligation you’re taking on as a TEACH Grant recipient.
Eligible Programs for the TEACH Grant
To receive the TEACH Grant, you’ll need to attend a school that is TEACH Grant eligible.
By definition, that means a school that offers a TEACH Grant eligible program of study that trains education-minded students how to become a teacher in a high-need field. The program should also result in the student obtaining a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in the education field.
Again, your financial aid office should be your first and only stop in knowing whether your school is TEACH Grant eligible or not.
What qualifies as a high-need field? Education majors wondering what a high-need field can check the list of high-need fields maintained by the U.S. Department of Education
- Bilingual education and English language acquisition
- Foreign language
- Reading specialist
- Special Education
High-need fields also include any other field of study 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.
If you don’t meet the obligations, the TEACH Grant will turn retroactively into a loan, with interest accruing from the date of original disbursement.
However, new reconsideration rules allow for a TEACH Grant beneficiary to turn an unsubsidized loan back into a grant.
In a new ruling that starts on February 4, 2019, if a TEACH Grant recipient met or is meeting the TEACH Grant service requirements, but did not comply with the annual certification requirement, he or she can request a reconsideration.
The U.S. Department of Education will contact individuals qualified to apply for reconsideration via an email. The email message will come from firstname.lastname@example.org, so be sure to whitelist this email address in your email program’s spam filter.
If you don’t qualify for reconsideration and if you believe that, for allowable reasons, you can’t fulfill your TEACH Grant obligations, it’s possible to either suspend or outright cancel the grant’s service obligation.
Qualified reasons include being ordered to active military duty for more than 30 days in a military conflict or obligation, leaving school if you’re qualified to do so via the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), or enrolling in an academic program that requires a certification or license to teach in a state elementary or secondary schools.
Interested in the TEACH Grant, but you have a few question?
Contact your school’s financial aid office or your school’s TEACH Grant service director.
You can also call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).