-By Brett Wallach
How The Teach Grant Program Can Help Prospective Educators
We all hear about how schools, especially those in low-income areas, are failing their students. The reasons for these failures are many and subject to debate. No matter what side of the political spectrum that you may be on, I think that we can all agree that good, dedicated teachers represent a vital solution to this on-going problem. The Teach Grant Program not only helps children in low-income schools, it can help your child get a good, affordable education, no matter what your income level.
Congress created the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH; and you thought Congress couldn’t be clever) Grant Program in 2007 to provide grants of up to $4,000 per year to students who intend to teach in a public or private elementary school that serves students from low-income families.
There is no such thing a free lunch, and the TEACH Grant Program comes with certain conditions. They are:
• Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), although you do not have to demonstrate financial need
• Enrolling as an undergrad, post-baccalaureate or grad student in a postsecondary educational institution that has chosen to participate in the TEACH Grant Program; not all schools do
• Enroll and/or complete course work necessary to be a teacher (this may include subject area courses such as Science courses for Science teachers, etc.)
• Maintain high academic achievement (typically scoring above the 75th percentile on a college admissions test or maintaining a G.P.A. of at least 3.25)
• Sign the TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve
• Teach in a “high-need” field (see below)
• Teach four academic years within eight calendar years of completing the program
Students must be aware of the fact that failure to complete the service obligation of the TEACH Grant Program will result in their grant being converted to a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, meaning that the money granted, plus interest, would have to be repaid to the U.S. Department of Education; a six-month grace period is extended before the grant is converted to the above loan, however.
Schools serving low-income students, listed in the D.O.E.’s Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellations Benefits, are the ones at which the student receiving the TEACH Grant must work. You may access that Directory at: https://www.tcli.ed.gov/CBSWebApp/tcli/TCLIPubSchoolSearch.jsp.
High-need fields are those required for the program and include such areas of learning as Bilingual Education, Foreign Language, Mathematics, Reading, Science, Special Ed and other subject shortage areas listed at the following site: http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/pol/tsa.doc.
Therefore, only those students who are really interested in teaching and ready to dedicate themselves to the profession, as well as those who truly want to work at low-income schools should utilize the TEACH Program.
It can be said that those who follow through on the TEACH Grant are not only helping themselves, but helping children and schools with the greatest need. And what is better than that? Does that sound too hippie-ish? Regardless, what a groovy way to help garner a college education and earn a living upon graduation!