How to Find Financial Aid for Teachers

Instructor: Bill Sands
Teachers looking for financial assistance can find support through a number of federal programs, state programs, and private companies. Read on for just a few examples of the assistance available to educators.

TEACH Grants

Established in 2007 as part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grants are issued to individuals enrolled in teacher education programs. These grants are not need-based and offer up to around $4,000 per year to eligible undergraduate and graduate students.

In order to be considered eligible for such a grant, you must have a GPA of at least 3.25. Furthermore, you will need to agree to spend four years teaching a high-need field in a low-income district after graduation. 'High-need' fields can include mathematics, science, foreign language, and special education, and teachers will have an eight-year period to complete their four-year obligation.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

If you've already graduated and are no longer eligible for a TEACH grant, you can seek relief from prior loans through the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. This program can help forgive up to $17,500 of debt, provided that you qualify.

The exact amount of assistance you receive depends on your area of teaching. Full-time teachers of any subject can expect to receive up to $5,000 in relief, while teachers who work in a high-need area (science, special education, mathematics, etc.) can receive up to $17,500.

In order to have your debt forgiven, you must meet several qualifications. You'll need to have taken your loan out after October 1, 1998, and the program only accepts Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Federal Stafford Loans (teachers who only have PLUS Loans will not qualify). You will also need to have at least five years of consecutive full-time employment as an educator in a low-income school.

Teacher Loan Cancellation

Similar to the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program mentioned above, this program also helps teachers eliminate past accumulations of student loan debt. The difference, however, is that there is no limit on the amount of debt forgiven; teachers may have all loans forgiven, provided that they meet requirements.

The caveat to this program is that it only accepts loans taken from the Federal Perkins Loan program. No other types will be forgiven.

To qualify for relief, you'll need at least one full year of teaching experience. You'll also need to satisfy one of the three following requirements:

  • Teach in a low-income area
  • Teach special education
  • Teach a high-need field

Qualified individuals will have an increasing percentage of their loan cancelled with each year of teaching experience they accrue.

State-Based Aid

Some states also offer financial incentives to help lure current or prospective teachers to high-need areas. These incentives include scholarships for minority college students who go on to teach in schools with high minority populations as well as current teachers who want to earn additional math or science credentials. There are also grants for teachers' aides interested in advancing their careers via a teaching degree and tuition waivers for prospective special education teachers. Some states also award matching funds to teachers who are approved for the federal loan forgiveness program.

Cost Breaks for Supplies

Though not as formal as grants or scholarships, another form of financial relief for educators can be found through the various discounts and savings offered by multiple companies whose supplies, materials, and resources are commonly used in the classroom.

New York Times

One of the leading journalism outlets in the country, the Times offers a 50% discount on subscription fees for K-12 teachers.

Barnes & Noble

If you're looking to stock your classroom bookshelf and provide your students with quality reading material at a low price, you should be aware that Barnes and Noble offers teachers a 20% discount for hardback books and a 15% break for paperback books.

Office Depot, Staples, & OfficeMax

These supply retailers offer important school supplies and 'teacher rewards' cards that provide access to various price breaks and benefits.

The Container Store

To help get your classroom organized, you can take advantage of the 15% discount this chain offers to teachers.

Application Assistance

If the prospect of applying for the TEACH grant or any state-based award programs seems daunting, has several resources that can help you navigate the often-complicated application process. You'll also find materials to help explore some of the other types of financial aid out there.

These lessons on College Scholarships and Grants and Paying for College: Costs & Options cover everything from filling out the FAFSA to the various loan, scholarship, and work-study options available to you. Plus, they contain innovative learning tools, such as videos and self-checking quizzes, to keep you focused and engaged throughout the lessons.

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