Understanding the Federal TEACH Grant

The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant provides financial assistance to college students who want to pursue careers in teaching.

To apply for this grant, you must meet strict eligibility requirements, and you must complete a service obligation after graduation. Find out whether you’re eligible, what the service requirement includes, and how you can secure $4,000 per year with a federal TEACH Grant.

What Is the TEACH Grant?

The TEACH Grant offers non-need-based financial aid for college students who are planning to pursue teaching careers. Like most grants from the Department of Education, you’ll apply for the TEACH Grant before or during your enrollment in an undergraduate or graduate program. If your application is approved, your program will receive the funds and apply them toward your cost of attendance.

Unlike other forms of federal student financial aid, the TEACH Grant is designed for students with specific professional goals. This grant also requires you to meet several additional requirements while you’re in college and after you graduate, or it could convert into a Direct Unsubsidized Loan.

How much is a TEACH Grant worth?

TEACH Grants are worth up to $4,000 per year. Since you receive this amount annually for each of four years of teaching, the grant is worth a total of up to $16,000.

It’s important to note that the exact amount of the grant can vary from year to year. The Budget Control Act of 2011 stipulates that the amount of TEACH Grants with an initial disbursement date between October 1, 2016, and September 30, 2017, is reduced by 6.9 percent, for a maximum of $3,724 per year. Grants with an initial disbursement date between October 1, 2017, and September 30, 2018, are reduced by 6.6 percent, for an annual maximum of $3,736.

What are the eligibility requirements for a TEACH Grant?

To ensure that you’re eligible for a TEACH Grant, start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. Although this is a non-need-based grant, all forms of federal financial aid require applicants to complete and submit this form.

Next, make sure you meet the standard eligibility requirements for all federal financial aid. In most cases, you must be a U.S. citizen and have a Social Security number. Be sure to confirm with your school’s financial aid officer that your college or university participates in the TEACH Grant program, too. While you’re enrolled, you must maintain a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.25 to remain eligible.

This grant also requires you to complete an annual counseling session that outlines all of the terms and conditions attached to this type of financial aid. To receive your funds, you’ll need to sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve.

What are the terms and conditions for a TEACH Grant?

In addition to enrolling in a TEACH Grant-eligible program, you must agree to work full-time as a teacher. Over the course of eight years after graduating or leaving your program, you must teach for at least four years.

Keep in mind that not just any teaching job will ensure your eligibility for the grant. You have to serve as a highly qualified teacher at a low-income elementary or secondary school. In addition, you must teach in a high-need field, such as math, science, select foreign languages, English as a second language, or special education.

In addition, every year, you have to complete paperwork and provide documentation of the steps you’ve taken to meet your service obligation. You may be able to apply for a temporary suspension of this service obligation in certain circumstances, such as if you enroll in a graduate program after completing the undergraduate program for which you received the grant. Note that your service obligation can only be discharged if you become permanently disabled or if you pass away.

What happens if your TEACH Grant converts into a loan?

If you don’t fulfill the terms and conditions of the TEACH Grant or apply for a suspension of service obligation, your grant could convert into an Unsubsidized Stafford Loan. The total loan amount will factor in the grant plus accumulated interest dating back to the original disbursement date. You’ll have to pay back the loan on a standard repayment schedule, which could begin right away.

Planning a career in teaching and want to make sure you’re eligible for this grant? Complete the FAFSA® form and take the first steps toward securing a TEACH Grant.