According to the Teacher Shortage Areas Nationwide Listing, 1990-1991 through 2017-2018 published by the U. S. Department of Education, there is and has been a shortage of special education teachers in the low-income districts of every state since the 1990-1991 school year. Because of this shortage, children with special needs have been in classrooms in which well-intentioned, but not highly qualified, teachers work hard to teach the best they can. The U.S. government is aware of this shortage and has attempted to provide programs to alleviate the problem. One of the programs available is the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education or "TEACH" Grant Program.
What Is the TEACH Grant?
If you are passionate and motivated to work in the field of special education with students whose families struggle financially, the TEACH Grant may provide the financial support you need to continue your education. As stated by the Federal Student Aid Office of the U. S. Department of Education, "The TEACH Grant Program provides grants of up to $4,000 per year to students who agree to teach for four years at an elementary school, secondary school, or educational service agency that serves students from low-income families."
The Teacher Shortage Areas Nationwide Listing noted above lists special education among the "current high-need fields in schools that serve low-income students."
What Are the Eligibility Requirements for a TEACH Grant?
In order for you to be eligible for a grant through the TEACH program, you must meet several economic, program and academic requirements, including:
- You must be eligible for federal student aid programs and complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA).
- You must be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at a school in the TEACH program.
- Your program of study must be eligible for the TEACH Grant.
- You must meet certain academic requirements, including maintaining a specific cumulative grade point average and scoring high enough on college admissions tests.
What Are the Employment Requirements for a TEACH Grant?
In order to apply for a TEACH Grant, you must complete the online Agreement to Serve. This document outlines the teaching service requirements you promise to meet before receiving the Grant. For each academic program for which you receive a TEACH Grant, these requirements include:
- Teaching full time for a total of at least four school years within eight years after completing or leaving a TEACH-eligible program.
- Teaching at a low-income school in a high-need field or at an educational service agency.
What Happens If I Fail to Complete the Teaching Service Requirements?
Unless you receive a temporary suspension for completing your service obligation, you must complete the employment requirements as stated above. According to the Federal Student Aid Office, "If you do not meet the requirements of your service obligation, all TEACH Grant funds you received will be converted to a Direct Unsubsidized Loan. You must repay this loan in full, with interest charged from the date of each TEACH Grant disbursement."
What Is a Temporary Suspension?
There are three conditions under which you may receive a temporary suspension of your service obligation requirements.
- You received an undergraduate degree with the aid of a TEACH Grant and subsequently are professionally required to enroll in a graduate program in order to receive a certificate or license.
- You experience a situation that qualifies under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
- You have a military obligation of more than thirty days or are called to serve in the National Guard.
These temporary suspensions are granted in one-year increments and cannot total more than three years.
As a graduate student in the Master of Science in Education - Special Education online program at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, you may be eligible for up to $4,000 per year through the TEACH Grant program. You may qualify for financial support to pay for a substantial portion of the education you need to pursue your goal of working with students with special needs.
Learn more about the UW-Superior online Master of Science in Education - Special Education program.
Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.