Last week, the U.S. Department of Education announced changes to the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program, the only federal student aid grant program that directly benefits teachers working in high-need fields and underserved schools. The agency implemented these changes as the Administration proposes further enhancements to the program through the American Families Plan, which would double the annual grant amount, increase program flexibilities, continue to address high grant-to-loan conversion rates, and ensure better outcomes for teachers and students.
The TEACH Grant Program provides grants up to $4,000 each year to students who are completing or plan to compete coursework needed to begin a teaching career. Unlike other federal student grants, it requires recipients to agree to complete four years of teaching in high-need fields and underserved schools as a condition for receiving the grant.
For each year that a TEACH Grant is awarded, the recipient must complete online counseling that explains the grant’s terms and conditions and sign an agreement in which the recipient agrees to teach in a high-need field at a school or educational service agency that serves students from low-income backgrounds.
If a recipient does not complete the required four years of teaching (i.e., the service obligation) or submit the required documentation eight years after graduating from or otherwise leaving the school where they received a TEACH Grant, the grant is converted into a loan, which must then be repaid in full, including interest accumulated from the disbursement date.
With the changes:
- Grant recipients will no longer have their grants converted to loans if they do not certify that they have begun teaching or intend to begin teaching within 120 days of graduating or withdrawing from school.
- TEACH Grant recipients will also no longer have to certify their intent to complete the service obligation each year no later than October 1.
- If TEACH Grant recipients do not submit their teaching certification at the end of each year of teaching, their grants are not converted to loans until they do not have enough time to complete the required four years of service within the eight year deadline, though recipients are still expected to submit annual certifications.
- The Department has expanded the reasons for which a TEACH Grant recipient’s obligation may be suspended for a period of time and may teach for less than a full school year but still receive credit for the full academic year.
- The Department has simplified requirements to enable TEACH Grant recipients to have their undergraduate and graduate service obligations grouped together, when possible.
- The required TEACH Grant Exit Counseling will inform recipients that the grant program servicer, FedLoan Servicing, will send detailed annual notifications to recipients that include requirements and timelines, documentation reminders, accrued interest estimates, and explanations about the reconversion process.
- The reconsideration process is open to all TEACH Grant recipients whose grants have converted to loans, and there is relief available for recipients whose TEACH Grants were converted to loans in error.
Also, the Department’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) office launched new and improved digital forms and resources to help inform and guide TEACH Grant recipients.
The program changes are reflected on the TEACH Grant Program web page at StudentAid.gov/teach