Teacher Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant

TEACH Grant funding helps prepare aspiring teachers to serve the education needs of the low-income population while also covering the cost of education for teachers.

The Federal TEACH Grant Program provides an award that recipients may use to pay for expenses related to their education in an approved degree program. The grant is gift aid that does not require monetary repayment. Instead, recipients must agree to teach for at least four academic years after participating in the program.

Students must be enrolled in a program of study at a TEACH Grant eligible school to qualify. Also, they must be working towards a bachelor’s, master’s or post baccalaureate degree that leads to teaching credentials. Applicants must apply for the grant using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Keep reading for all the information you need to submit a TEACH Grant application to pursue a career in education.

The TEACH Grant Explained

The TEACH Grant is a federal program that provides funding for students pursuing a degree that prepares them for teaching. More specifically, the TEACH Grant program targets those who wish to teach as a highly qualified teacher in a high-need field. Grant holders receive an amount each year that they may use towards their school-related expenses. They may use the funds towards the cost of tuition, books, supplies as well as room and board.

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Similar to the Federal Pell Grant or the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, teachers are not required to repay the TEACH grant. Instead, grant holders must agree to sign what is known as an Agreement to Serve. The agreement specifies that the grant holder must teach in a high-need field in a school population consisting primarily of low-income students. For each grant awarded, the grant holder must teach in the required school setting for at least four academic years within eight years of completing their degree. If an individual does not complete their service requirements, it is then that all TEACH Grant funds will be converted to an Unsubsidized Direct Loan.

How to Qualify for a TEACH Grant

To apply for a federal TEACH Grant, applicants must first meet the general eligibility requirements for federal student aid. TEACH Grant applicants must first apply for federal aid using what is known as the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA collects information to determine a student’s eligibility for aid. To meet general eligibility requirements for federal assistance, students must meet the below criteria:

  • Be a U. S. Citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Hold a high school diploma or General Education Diploma (GED)
  • Have a valid Social Security Number
  • Be registered for the selective service if a male
  • Demonstrate financial soundness and creditworthiness
  • Not be in default on any federal student loan

Qualification Criteria for a TEACH Grant

Once an individual meets the general guidelines for federal aid, they must then meet a set of criteria specific to the program. Those requirements are:

Program of Study – Applicants for the grant must be enrolled in an undergraduate, post-baccalaureate or graduate program at eligible TEACH grant schools. Before applying, applicants must verify if their school participates in the program.

Academic Achievement – Anyone applying for the program must score above the 75th percentile on their college admissions tests. They must also meet the academic achievement requirement by maintaining a 3.25 cumulative grade point average (GPA).

What are TEACH Grant eligible schools?

A school must participate in the TEACH grant program, hold a TEACH Grant certification and offer the required coursework to be recognized as an eligible TEACH eligible school. The school must offer a program of study that prepares the applicant to teach in a high-need field. The program must lead to a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Some post-baccalaureate programs qualify as an eligible school even if the program is NOT at a school that offers a bachelor’s degree in education. Also, the coursework must consist of courses required for the grant holder to receive certification as a teacher.

What is the TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve?

Grant holders repay their TEACH Grant funds by serving in areas required by the program. TEACH Grant requirements state that grant holders must sign an Agreement to Serve. The agreement outlines the recipient’s duties in fulfilling the obligations of the program which are:

Service – Recipient must spend at least four years serving as a highly qualified teacher in a high-need area. Also, that area must primarily serve a low-income population. They must complete the service requirement within eight years of completing their program of study.

Progress – TEACH Grant holders must provide documentation that demonstrates their progress towards fulfilling their service requirement

Completion Requirements – Anyone who receives a grant must acknowledge that failure to complete service results in the award converting to a loan.

What happens if I don’t fulfill my TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve?

TEACH Grant recipients must meet all requirements outlined in the Agreement to Serve. Further, they must meet those requirements in the timeframe outlined in the contract. If the grant holder does not complete the required service, he or she will have the grant amount converted to an Unsubsidized Direct Loan. As such, the funds must be repaid.

There may be cases where a TEACH Grant holder may want to suspend their four-year service requirement temporarily. Examples of such instances are being deployed to active duty or experiencing a medical issue that meets the conditions under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The program grants suspensions for up to one year at a time. However, the combined suspensions may not exceed three years.

The program discharges recipients from the service requirement if they die or become permanently disabled.

What are TEACH Grant high-need fields?

The U.S. Department of Education, which administers TEACH Grants, has identified a list of areas that are experiencing a teacher shortage, particularly in critical subjects. As a result, the Federal TEACH Grant program requires participants to teach in one of the subjects identified. The areas of most need are:

  • Bilingual education.
  • Reading.
  • English language acquisition.
  • Math.
  • Science.
  • Special Education.

Not only must the recipient teach in one of these areas, but he or she must also do so at a school on the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Cancellation Low-Income Directory.

How do I submit a TEACH Grant application?

Anyone who wishes to apply for TEACH grant funding must first complete the FAFSA. When completing the form, applicants must provide information necessary to determine their eligibility for the federal TEACH grant program. Applicants must log in to the Federal Student Aid website to initiate an application. Those who do not have login credentials must create an account. Applicants must provide the following information on the form:

  • Applicant Name
  • Social Security Number
  • Citizenship status
  • Income

Applicants may want to gather appropriate documentation before beginning the process. Documents that may be helpful while completing the application include a Social Security card, birth certificate, tax forms and bank statements. Applicants for a TEACH Grant are not required to complete the form at once. Applicants may save the information and return later to finish it.

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