Teaching Scholarships and College Financial Aid Information

It costs money to attend college, and those studying to become educators themselves are not immune from running up large debts in order to pursue their educations. Luckily, there are plenty of teaching scholarships and other financial aid available that can help you pay for school.

These sources of aid can be found through Internet searches, your school’s academic advisor, and the financial aid departments of colleges you might potentially attend. You should also check with professional teaching organizations such as the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which maintains a large database of grants, scholarships, and other forms of monetary assistance intended specifically for teachers.

The following are the three main ways you will probably pay for your teaching education:

  • Grants. Grants are free, tax-exempt funds that are usually given by nonprofit organizations such as federal and state governments, corporations, or foundations for many purposes including aid for higher education. Grants do not have to be repaid and usually have no special requirements attached to them except for meeting the initial qualifications and sometimes writing a proposal to the donor of the grant. The federal government is a major provider of grants for teachers, such as the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) program, which provides grants up to $4,000 per year to participating colleges for students who plan to teach high-demand subjects (such as bilingual education, foreign languages, math, science, reading, or special education) in schools that serve low-income children. In this case, the grant recipient does have to agree to teach full time for at least four years after they complete the program. Many state governments also set aside grant money for teachers who agree to teach in their public schools. These local sources of aid usually have less competition as the number of applicants is smaller.
  • Scholarships. Scholarships are free funds that are given specifically for college education by the government, private companies, professional organizations, colleges, and universities. You are usually required to meet certain conditions both before and after receiving the money. There are literally thousands of teaching scholarships available that are awarded based on many factors including: financial need, a particular field of study, outstanding grades, athletic talent, race, ethnic origin, gender, medical or disability status, military service, age, religion, political affiliation, and nationality. Many schools also offer departmental scholarships to those who plan to teach in particular fields such as physical education, elementary education, secondary education, special education, school psychology, or speech therapy. Many students pay for their education by combining the proceeds of several scholarships.
  • Loans. Almost all students have to resort to loans to help pay for their educations. As they are debts that must be repaid, you should supplement them with any free financial aid available such as grants, scholarships, and work study programs, and you should only borrow what you need. The federal government offers several low-interest loans such as Stafford loans, Perkins loans, and PLUS loans, some of which are based on financial need and some which are not. The federal government also subsidizes work study programs and loan forgiveness programs, in which teachers may have federal loans cancelled in return for teaching in high-need areas. Loans are also available through other sources such as charities, private financial institutions, and the financial aid departments of schools.