Grant Programs for Student Teachers
Teaching, One of the Most Important Job Positions
The United States is currently experiencing a critical shortage of qualified teachers at the primary, secondary and post-secondary levels. This shortage is particularly acute in a number of crucial disciplines, including:
- Bi-lingual education
- Special education
- Reading and comprehension skills
The nationwide shortage of teachers extends into every state in the union, and positive steps are being taken to encourage and support college-bound students who are interested in pursuing teaching as a profession.
Grants for educators are available from a wide range of sources, including:
- Federal and State governments
- Private and Professional organizations
- Colleges and Universities
Students interested in pursuing teaching as a career, have chosen a noble profession. Like all college-bound students, however, they face the obstacle of paying for their education. Fortunately, there are many programs that make college more accessible to students who have chosen to embrace this critical need career path.
Government Grants for Teaching Students
Federal and State-based grant programs are rich sources of financial aid for students pursuing a degree in teaching. These programs have been designed to address a number of critical issues currently facing the American education system, including diversification, increasing the number and qualifications of mathematics and science teachers, and increasing the availability of qualified educators in traditionally poor and under-served communities.
Government sponsored grants for teaching students are primarily grants-for service. Students who accept financial aid must agree to a predetermined term of service teaching in a high need field, or in a critical need facility or community. These terms are non-negotiable, and students should be aware of all of the requirements attached to any grant for which they are applying.
Some of the most notable government grant programs for students pursuing a career in teaching include:
- The Federal TEACH Grant – This Federally supported program provides financial aid to students who are pursuing a degree in teaching. Award amounts are $4000 per academic year. Students must agree to serve a minimum of four years in a high need field or facility. Grant recipients who fail to complete their term of service will have their awards converted to a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, which they will then be required to pay back in full.
- The Federal Transition into Teaching Program – This is an umbrella program that includes the Federal Pell Grant, as well as a selection of loans and loan forgiveness plans targeting teaching students who agree to take up positions in historically under-served communities.
- The Academic Competitiveness and National SMART Grants – These Federally supported grants are designed to encourage and support students pursuing high level studies in critical need fields such as science, mathematics, engineering, technology and foreign languages. The ACG grant is available to undergraduate students, while the SMART grant is designed to benefit graduate level students. Both grants are applicable to students pursing a teaching degree, with a specialization in one of the designated critical need disciplines.
There are many state-based grant programs designed to encourage, support, and retain resident students who are pursuing careers as educators. These programs vary from state to state, and interested students should visit the dedicated website for their state’s Department of Education for detailed information on available programs.
Private Sector Grants for Teaching Students
Many grants for teaching students are supported through the private sector. Professional associations, corporations and philanthropic organizations are all sources of grant money for students pursuing a career in teaching. These grant programs routinely target specific high-need disciplines, such as mathematics, science and special education, as well as sectors of the population that have been historically under-represented in the teaching profession.
The following examples of grants for student teachers will give a brief overview of what is available from the private sector.
- The American Council of Learned Societies provides 14 annual grants and fellowships for students pursuing their teaching studies in fields strictly related to the humanities. Fields include anthropology, archaeology, political science, history, sociology and psychology. Award amounts vary, and grant recipients are determined by committee.
- Citigroup’s Smarter Schools and Smarter Classrooms Grant provides financial assistance to low and middle income students who are pursuing a degree in teaching. Special attention is given to those students pursuing teaching degrees in high need fields.
- The Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fellowship for Aspiring Teachers of Color is available to post-graduate students of color who are pursuing their masters degree in education. 25 fellowships are awarded annually. Recipients are given a $30,000 stipend to complete their education, but must agree to a three year term of service at a nigh need public school.
- The Robert G. Porter Scholars Program is administered through the American Federation of Teachers. The program offers grants to student members of the AFT who are completing their degrees in education. Awards range from $1000 to $8000 depending on the student’s member status, course work and level of achievement.
Students looking for grant programs to help them begin, or complete, their training to become qualified teachers should continue their search by combining their status as a student with their specific fields of interest. Consider the following when searching for grant programs for teaching students.
- Race or ethnic background
- Field of interest. For example, elementary education, special education, higher mathematics, engineering or technology.
- Financial need
- Region specific service terms
College and University Grants for Teaching Students
Colleges and universities often support grant programs for teachers in training. Some universities also provide extended grants for continuing students who are working on their graduate thesis, or dissertation, in education. These programs will vary greatly from school to school, and students should contact the financial aid adviser at their college of choice for details on specific programs for which they may be eligible. Students pursuing teaching degrees in particular disciplines should also consult their department head for information on specific programs relevant to their field of interest.
Many of the university based grants for teaching students are supported by state and Federal funds, and are designed to address the specific educational needs of local communities. These grant programs generally require service commitments, requiring students to assume teaching positions within the state at a designated high-need facility.
Teaching is one of the most important, and rewarding, career paths a student can pursue. Teachers help to shape the future of the country by inspiring a love of learning in their pupils. Those who have the desire, and the determination, to become the teachers of the next generation will find a wide range of grant programs dedicated to helping them realize their goals. Whether from the government or from the private sector, these programs continue to encourage and support the development of aspiring teachers across the United States.
Students searching for funds to help them pursue their degrees in teaching and education, will also want to refer to our section on Scholarships for Teaching Students to learn about additional financial aid opportunities.
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