The Teach Grant
The Teach Grant: How It Can Help You
The TEACH Grant program has garnered much talk recently, both good and bad. The reality is that this program offers enormous benefits for those interested in teaching. However, the program also requires stringent adherence to the rules laid out in the grant information. Failure to follow the service agreement or failure to complete your educational program will result in all TEACH Grant funds being due immediately and treated as a standard educational loan (Stafford loans).
What Does the TEACH Grant Offer Prospective Teachers?
The TEACH Grant was created to provide much-needed assistance for teachers in need of education. It was also created to help attract motivated, caring teachers to low income schools and geographic areas around the US.
The bare bones of this grant are as follows:
The TEACH Grant offers up to $4,000 per year in grants for undergraduate students to pursue a full time teaching career in high-need subject areas. In addition, graduate students are also offered $4,000 per year to complete their studies. While full time students receive full monetary benefits, part time students are allowed to apply, though they will receive only partial funding from the grant.
The total available funding for the TEACH Grant program is $16,000 for undergraduate studies and $8,000 for graduate students.
While the program sounds very beneficial, students are required to agree to teach for a minimum of 4 enrollment years in a low income school, teaching a high need subject. Failure to comply with this agreement will result in the grant turning into a loan, due immediately, with all applicable interest. The term of service states that you must complete the 4 obligatory years of teaching within 8 years of graduating from the program.
How Do I Apply for the TEACH Grant?
You can apply for the TEACH Grant through the new FAFSA form. No financial need requirements must be met, you simply must agree to the service agreement. It is vital that you understand this service agreement prior to application. Failure to understand the agreement will still result in total repayment of grant money.
- You must meet the federal guidelines for student aid, though you do not have to demonstrate severe financial hardship.
- You must enroll in a TEACH Grant-eligible course of study. These are areas deemed high-need in most areas around the country. Subjects such as math, science, English, literature and other core subjects are included.
- You must score above the 75th percentile on your college admission test. SAT, ACT, GRE and several other tests are all applicable.
- You must have graduated high school with at least a 3.25 GPA or have maintained a 3.25 GPA through college coursework (this is necessary to continue receiving the grant through school)
- Sign the TEACH Agreement to Serve and commit to the Department of Education (you can do this through the DoE website).
What Does the Agreement to Serve and Promise to Pay Mean?
Simply put, this is the agreement you must sign in order to attain the TEACH Grant. It stipulates that you agree to serve for 4 years in a low-income school, teaching full time in a high-demand course. Specific courses are outlined in the TEACH agreement. In addition, you must serve your term during the 8 years immediately following graduation from the course.
Failure to comply with this agreement changes the grant into an unsubsidized federal loan, with interest accruing from the date the grant was issued. It is important to understand this aspect of the agreement; failure to do so can be very costly.
In addition to the original 4 year agreement, you will also have to sign an additional 4 year agreement for each educational program for which you received TEACH Grant funding. In some cases, multiple agreements can be worked off at the same time. You must also agree to serve in a capacity as a high quality teacher, which is defined under federal law. You must also spend at least 51% of your school day teaching a single subject. These subjects are English and foreign languages, mathematics, reading specialist, science, special education and several other designations.
What Schools are Available under the TEACH Grant?
You must fulfill your agreement in a school serving low-income students. These may be inner city or rural schools and will vary with state and geographic location within each state. All schools must meet federal low-income guidelines and have available positions in your chosen teaching subject(s).
Each state offers many different schools fitting the requirements, though some do not allow you to choose which you serve in. Some states will allow you to choose the area in which you teach, though others may place stipulations on you.
What Else is Required?
In addition to the Agreement of Service, you will have to respond to multiple requests for information from the Department of Education. Regardless of how repetitive or redundant these requests may seem, it is vital that you respond with alacrity. You must also supply all requested information to the Department, immediately in request.
It cannot be stressed enough; you must understand the terms of service, as well as the nature of your communications with the Department of Education prior to submitting your FAFSA indicating that you are interested in the TEACH Grant.
What If I Have to Stop My Education?
If you are unable to complete your course of study due to medical complications, family emergency, death or other catastrophic events, you must remain in close contact with the Department of Education. Failure to do so will result in your grant being converted to a standard loan with interest
If you fail to complete your course of study for any other reason, your grant will be converted to a traditional loan. If you fail to complete your Agreement of Service during the time specified, your grant will also be converted to an unsubsidized loan, due immediately with interest accruing from the date the grant was issued.