What is a TEACH Grant?

You could get $4,000 per year to pay for college if you plan to pursue a teaching career.
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Written by Eliza Haverstock
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Nerdy takeaways
  • TEACH Grants can give you up to $16,000 for an undergraduate degree and $8,000 for a master’s degree.

  • You must teach for four years, or you’ll have to repay the grant money.

  • TEACH Grant form processing is on pause until fall 2024.

Thinking about becoming a teacher, but worried that your future salary won’t allow you to afford student loan payments? Check out the federal government’s Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant program, which is designed to offset college costs for aspiring educators.

TEACH Grants can give you up to $4,000 per year while you’re in college working towards a teaching credential. After you graduate, you must teach full-time in a “high-need” field at a qualifying low-income school for at least four years. If you don’t fulfill your teaching commitment within eight years of your graduation, the grant converts to a loan that you’ll pay back with interest.

Eligible low-income schools are listed in the Education Department’s Teacher Cancellation Low Income directory. At these schools, you can teach one of the following high-need subjects:

  • Mathematics.

  • The sciences, including computer science.

  • Foreign languages.

  • Bilingual education.

  • English-language acquisition. 

  • Reading.

  • Special education.

  • Other fields listed in the Teacher Shortage Area database, which may vary by state and region.

You can renew TEACH Grants for multiple years. In total, a student can receive up to $16,000 in TEACH Grants for their undergraduate study, and up to $8,000 for an eligible master’s degree program.

TEACH Grant form processing is on pause from May 1 through the fall of 2024, as the Education Department takes over management of the program from the student loan servicer MOHELA.

Keep reading for the details you need to know about TEACH Grants, including what to expect from the processing pause.

TEACH Grant eligibility requirements

TEACH Grants have a few basic eligibility requirements. To qualify for these grants, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen.

  • Enroll in an eligible teaching-related degree at a school that participates in the TEACH Grant program. Ask your college’s financial aid office if they participate. 

  • Meet academic performance requirements. Generally, you should score above the 75% percentile on a college admissions test like the SAT or ACT, and maintain a college GPA of at least 3.25. Check with your college’s financial aid office for their specific requirements. 

How to apply for a TEACH Grant

You must complete these steps to apply for a TEACH Grant at the start of each year you’re in college:

  • Complete TEACH Grant counseling on StudentAid.gov. The counseling will give you information about the grant program and work requirements. It takes about 20-30 minutes to complete, and must be done in one sitting. 

  • Sign a contract called the TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve or Repay. This document obligates you to repay your grant award if you don’t complete the work requirement. You can sign it online at StudentAid.gov. 

  • Fill out your college’s TEACH Grant application form and submit it to your financial aid office. 

What happens after you graduate with TEACH Grants

If graduation is coming up (or you plan to withdraw from your program or school), complete TEACH Grant exit counseling on StudentAid.gov.

You must find a full-time teaching job at an eligible low-income school and complete your four-year work obligation within an eight-year period. The eight-year countdown begins the day that you graduate or withdraw from the school where you got your TEACH Grants. If you’re a transfer student with TEACH Grants from two schools, the period begins after leaving the college you transferred to.

Submit a TEACH Grant Certification of Qualifying Teaching form as soon as you finish each of your four required school years. The chief administrative officer at your workplace must certify the form.

Your teaching requirement can be suspended for up to three years in certain scenarios, including if:

  • You pursue another TEACH Grant-eligible degree or certification program. 

  • You go on leave covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act. 

  • You or your spouse are called to active duty military service or deployment. 

  • A major disaster hits where you live or work. 

The obligation can be permanently waived in cases of disability, death or extended active duty military service.

TEACH Grants can turn into loans if you don’t complete the work requirement

If you fail to complete your teaching requirement, your TEACH Grants may convert into direct unsubsidized student loans. Interest will be tacked onto the loan retroactively to when the grant was first disbursed to you, and it will continue to build until the loan is repaid. Your loans will be assigned to a federal student loan servicer, which will manage your monthly bills.

Your student loan interest rate will depend on the year(s) in which you got TEACH Grants. For example, if you received a TEACH Grant for an undergraduate program in the 2018-19 school year, it’ll convert to a loan with a 5.05% interest rate, since that was the undergraduate federal student loan interest rate at the time. If you received grants over multiple years, they may have different corresponding interest rates.

Servicers automatically place federal student loans on the standard 10-year repayment plan, which splits debt into 120 equal installments, plus interest. Ask your servicer about other repayment options. An income-driven plan, like SAVE, can shrink your monthly bills and extend your repayment term.

TEACH Grant processing pause until fall 2024

TEACH Grant form processing is paused from May 1 through fall 2024, as the Education Department takes over management of the program from the student loan servicer MOHELA.

After the transfer and processing pause wraps up, you’ll manage your TEACH Grants directly with the Education Department, rather than through MOHELA. You’ll be able submit TEACH forms, track form processing status and get support on StudentAid.gov and through Education Department customer service centers.

If you need to submit TEACH Grant forms during the pause for the current or upcoming school year, you’ll have to mail them in. Address the envelope to:

  • TEACH Grant Program, P.O. Box 300010, Greenville, TX 75403.

Mailed-in forms won’t be processed until the pause ends in the fall. If you mail in a form, don’t resubmit when the pause ends — or you could face further delays.

Alternatively, the Education Department says you can wait until the fall to submit forms online on StudentAid.gov.

Other college grants for aspiring teachers

TEACH Grants and student loans aren’t the only financial aid options for aspiring teachers. Here are a few other grants to fund your undergraduate or graduate degree:

  • Pell Grants of up to $7,395 per year, available to students with demonstrated financial need. No service requirement. 

  • State-based grants for future teachers, like the Golden State Teacher Grant program in California, which offers students up to $20,000. 

  • State and institutional scholarships for future educators. 

Teachers who work for qualifying schools can also get their loans forgiven through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and Teacher Loan Forgiveness programs. The forgiveness is tax-free.

You must submit the FAFSA to be eligible for federal, state and institutional aid. Some private scholarships also require the FAFSA.

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