The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH Grant) provides undergraduate and graduate students with up to $4,000 per year in exchange for a commitment to teach for a number of years after graduation.
Although the TEACH Grant amount is nominally up to $4,000 per year, sequestration cut the amount by about 6 percent.
Who is Eligible for a TEACH Grant?
In addition to filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and satisfying the general eligibility criteria for federal student aid, TEACH Grant recipients must maintain at least a 3.25 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale or score in the top 25th percentile on a college admissions test.
TEACH Grant recipients must also be interested in pursuing a career in teaching and must be enrolled in an eligible program that prepares the recipient for teaching in a high-need field.
What is the TEACH Grant Commitment?
Recipients of a TEACH Grant must complete initial, subsequent and exit TEACH Grant counseling and sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve (ATS).
The TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve requires recipients to teach for four of the eight years after graduation as a highly-qualified teacher in a high-need field at an elementary or secondary school (or education service agency) that serves low-income students.
High-need fields include mathematics, science, English, bilingual education, foreign languages, reading and special education. Other fields may qualify if identified as high need by the federal government, a state government or a local education agency, if listed in the Teacher Shortage Area database.
Eligible schools are listed in the Teacher Cancellation Low-Income (TCLI) Directory.
Annual Certification Requirement
The teaching commitment begins within 120 days of graduating from or leaving the college’s approved TEACH Grant program. The recipient must submit a certification within this 120-day period.
Recipients of a TEACH Grant must complete subsequent annual certifications by October 31. This keeps FedLoan Servicing (the TEACH Grant servicer) informed of the recipient’s progress toward completing the service obligation.
Pay attention to the annual certification deadline and get all of the details correct on the annual certification paperwork.
Failure to certify by the deadline and errors in the annual certification paperwork can lead to the grant being converted to a loan.
Recipients have reported bureaucratic challenges with satisfying the paperwork requirements ever since the TEACH Grant program started in 2008.
Can the Service Obligation be Suspended or Cancelled?
The TEACH Grant service obligation can be suspended in one-year increments for up to three years in three circumstances:
- The TEACH Grant recipient returns to school for a program which is eligible for the TEACH Grant or which satisfies state requirements for elementary or secondary school teacher certification.
- The TEACH Grant recipient has a condition that satisfies the requirements for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA).
- The TEACH Grant recipient is called for active duty service for more than 30 days as a member of the Reserves or National Guard in connection with war, military operation or national emergency.
The TEACH Grant obligation can be discharged if the recipient dies or becomes totally and permanently disabled.
The TEACH Grant obligation can also be discharged if the recipient serves on active duty for more than three years. One year of teaching service is cancelled for each year of military service beyond three years.
Penalties for a Failure to Fulfill the Service Requirements
Despite the name, the TEACH Grant is not really a grant, but a forgivable loan. If a TEACH Grant recipient does not complete the teaching requirements, the grant is retroactively converted into an unsubsidized Federal Direct Stafford Loan, with interest accruing from the date the TEACH Grant was received. This will more than triple the total interest paid over the life of the loan as compared with a normal federal student loan.
More information about the TEACH Grant program can be obtained from the college’s financial aid office.
The TEACH Grant servicer can be contacted at 1-800-699-2908 from 8 am to 9 pm ET on weekdays.