Funding Your Education

Teaching and education degrees can be expensive, but several funding sources exist. Read on to learn about scholarships, grants and loans for future teachers.

Updated September 20, 2023 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Scholarships, Grants and Financial Aid for Aspiring Educators

Teachers can change the lives of students and families, making teaching one of the most important yet challenging careers out there. Qualified teachers are in demand across the country, with many communities experiencing a shortage. Unfortunately, the rising cost of college tuition can pose challenges for those wishing to become educators. However, there are several funding options for future teachers, including scholarships, grants and forgivable loans. Read on to find out how to ease the burden of paying for an education or teaching degree.

National Scholarships for Aspiring Teachers

Ideally, students pursuing a teaching degree can get their college education without going deep into debt. Since education is considered an important field, many national scholarships are available specifically to students pursuing a teaching degree. The following graphic shows scholarships that may help teaching majors across the nation afford their college degrees. Browse scholarships by amount, enrollment level and eligibility requirements below.

The UCT Heaston Scholarships

Amount: $3,000-$6,000 (renewable for four years)

SILA Foundation Scholarship

Amount: $2,500

Gates Millennium Scholars

Amount: Maximum of $10,000

Richard M. Weaver Fellowship and Henry Salvatori Fellowship

Amount: $5,000-$15,000

STEM Teacher Scholarship

Amount: $2,500

Regional Scholarships for Aspiring Teachers

Not all scholarships are national; some are designated for students of a specific region, state or college. Such regional scholarships for prospective teachers can be found with a little extra digging. One benefit of applying for regional teaching scholarships is that the applicant pool is smaller. Students hoping to find regional teaching scholarships can search for opportunities at their college financial aid office, state-specific teaching organizations, or local community organizations. The following graphic shows some examples of regional scholarships for teachers.

William A. Crawford Minority Teacher Scholarship Application

Amount: Varies

D214 National Louis Scholarship

Amount: Full tuition (renewable for four years)

Scholarships for Non-Teaching Education Majors

Several opportunities exist for roles in education aside from teaching, such as administrators, curriculum developers, school counselors, school librarians and child development specialists. These jobs typically require a master's degree, and often those holding them start their careers as teachers. Below are some scholarships available to education students looking for careers outside of teaching:

Leon Bradley Scholarship

Amount: $1,500- $2,500

Educational Administration Scholarship

Amount: $2,500

Predoctoral Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Fellowship

Amount: Varies

E.J., Esther and Patricia Spomer Scholarship

Amount: $533

The Carroll Wade McGuffey Scholarship

Amount: Varies is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Advice for Landing a Teaching Scholarship

To maximize their chances of earning scholarships, education and teaching students should apply for a variety of scholarships that fit their individual needs. Organizations funding the scholarships generally share all essential information on their websites, including downloadable applications, submissions deadlines and contact information. Following instructions, submitting all documents on time, and writing a great essay are all essential components in the application process. Below are tips to help education and teaching students secure a scholarship:

Scholarship Tips

  1. 1

    Know where to search

    Once you start your research, you will find there are many scholarships available — some general, and some specific to education or teaching degrees. Many scholarship search websites can help by narrowing down your search and finding the ones you qualify for. Looking at your school website's scholarship section or talking to a financial aid counselor can also help. For teaching students, college education departments may have scholarships available only to students pursuing a degree in education.

  2. 2

    Stay organized

    To apply for scholarships, it's important to stay organized. Typically, you will need high school or college transcripts, income verification or FAFSA information, proof of citizenship and proof of acceptance or enrollment at an approved college. Often, you will need to answer a series of questions or write an essay on a specified topic, and may need to get a resume together as well as letters of recommendation from employers or faculty members. Gathering these documents as early as possible will reduce stress and enable you to meet application deadlines.

  3. 3

    Prioritize FAFSA

    Many scholarships are based on financial need, so proof of income and resources may be a required component of the scholarship application. The first step in providing financial information is usually the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which can be completed online. Most need-based scholarships require this form, even if they are privately funded. Other documents, such as proof of income for students and/or their parents may also be required, such as tax returns or earnings statement, so make sure these are done close to the beginning of the year.

  4. 4

    Ask for relevant letters of recommendation

    Students may be required to submit letters of recommendations with scholarship applications. If the scholarship committee does not specify who should write the letter, it's best to ask a person who can speak to your interest in education or teaching. The best people for this may be teachers, counselors, or advisors of extracurricular activities who can emphasize your academic involvement as well as your personal strengths that are relevant to teaching.

  5. 5

    Nail the essay

    Essays are a common requirement for securing a scholarship, and perhaps the most important part of your application, since it is a chance to let the scholarship committee know about your passion for the field and why you deserve the award. Make sure to submit an essay that properly answers the prompt and illustrates your skills and future aspirations in teaching and education.

  6. 6

    Resume and work experience

    Many applications for scholarships will ask for a resume or may ask you to list your accomplishments, extracurricular activities, job history, volunteer work and community involvement. This is a great opportunity to showcase your leadership skills, and highlight work, extracurricular and volunteer experiences relevant to teaching and education.

  7. 7

    Ask for help

    The job of finding scholarships can be overwhelming as students prepare to enter college. You can ask for help from friends, family, school counselors and financial aid officers to help with your search. At a minimum, asking for help proofreading application, resumes and essays can go a long way for potential scholarship seekers.

Other Ways to Pay for Education and Teaching Degrees

In addition to scholarships, there are grants, loans and programs available to ease the burden of paying for a teaching degree. Here are some examples of other financial aid options students and education professionals can use to pay for school:

TEACH Grants

Q. What are grants?

Education grants are financial aid awards that don't have to be paid back. Many grants are available through the federal government. A few grants may turn into loans if certain signed agreements are not met.

Q. What is a TEACH Grant?

A TEACH (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education) Grant of up to $4,000 per year is available from the federal government to those pursuing a degree in education. If awarded, TEACH Grant recipients must agree to certain conditions; if they are not met, the grant turns into a federal loan that the student must pay back. To qualify, applicants must complete a FAFSA form, be enrolled at an eligible school, and meet specified academic standards.

Q. What are the service requirements to get a TEACH grant?

The main service requirements of the TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve are that the recipient must teach full time for at least four years within eight years of completing their program. Teachers must also be considered a highly qualified teacher in a high-need field at a low-income school or educational service agency.

Q. Which fields are considered high-need?

Examples of fields the federal government considers high need are: special education, bilingual education and English language acquisition, foreign language, math, science and reading. The Teacher Shortage Area Nationwide Listing is a complete listing of high-need areas — both by subject and location — in each state.

Q. How do I know if a school serves low-income students?

The annual Teacher Cancellation Low Income Directory is a list approved by the U.S. Department of Education that can be used to look up low-income schools and educational service agencies by state.

Q. Where can I look for more information?

More information about the TEACH Grant can be found on the Federal Student Aid website. Students should read over all the information carefully before applying for this grant.

AmeriCorps and Teach for America

Q. What is AmeriCorps and the Teach for America program?

AmeriCorps is an organization allowing individuals to be involved in intensive community service while learning leadership and job skills and earning money for college in return. Teach For America is an AmeriCorps program that recruits college graduates to become teachers. Teachers commit to two years of teaching at a public or public charter K–12 school in a low-income community.

Q. What type of financial aid is available to AmeriCorps members?

Teach for America teachers are considered faculty members and receive a school district salary and benefits as well an education voucher of $4,725 at the end of each of the two years to help offset educational costs such as teaching credentials or loans. Depending on the location of the school, the salaries vary significantly from $24,000 to $55,000, according to Teach For America. Teachers in this program may also be eligible for grants or fellowships.

Q. How do I know if I'll make a good Teach for America teacher?

Teach for America has a list of characteristics that successful Teach for America teachers tend to have. Some examples are leadership skills, perseverance, commitment and respect for diversity. Reading through the website carefully to fully understand what the program is about can help you determine if you are a good fit.

Q. Where can I look for more information?

The Teach for America website is the best resource to find out more about the program. The AmeriCorps website provides general information about the organization.

Troops to Teachers

Q. What is the Troops to Teachers program?

The U.S. Department of Defense's Troop to Teachers (TTT) program helps veterans begin new careers as teachers by providing them with financial assistance and job search counseling. TTT is designed to alleviate the teacher shortage in public schools serving low-income students, especially in subjects considered high need, such as special education, math and science.

Q. What type of financial aid is available to veterans through TTT?

TTT states if approved, eligible veterans may receive a stipend of up to $5,000 to pay for costs associated with teacher certification. Veterans can also apply for a $10,000 bonus through TTT that is available to those teaching in public schools serving a high percentage of low-income students. Recipients of TTT funds must agree to teach in schools serving low-income families for three years.

Q. Where can I look for more information?

Troops to Teachers provides information on the program and eligibility. Each state also has a Troops to Teachers office to assist participants.

Student Loans

Q. What are student loans?

Student loans are funds borrowed specifically to pay for educational expenses such as tuition, books, supplies and housing. Students often use federal student loans, which are mostly based on need.

Q. What's the difference between federal, state and private student loans?

Federal loans are funds borrowed from the federal government. These loans tend to have lower interest rates and more flexible repayment schedules than other types of student loans. State loans may provide supplemental funding for college, and their terms and eligibility requirements are similar to those for federal loans. Private loans are available to qualifying students through institutions such as banks and credit unions.

Q. What should I research before deciding to take out a loan?

Students should first research other ways to pay for school prior to taking out loans. Students should research loan options, interest rates, payment plans, loan forgiveness programs and starting salaries for their chosen field to get an idea of what repayment might look like after graduation. Students planning to enter teaching careers can also research the eligibility requirements for various loan forgiveness programs.

Q. Where can I look for more information?

The government's Federal Student Aid website has some useful information about loans and other types of financial aid.

Student Loan Forgiveness for Teachers

Loan forgiveness is when a federal loan is discharged under certain circumstances. Two loan forgiveness programs available through the federal government require participants to work in public service or teach for a specified amount of time in exchange for reducing their student debt.

Loan Forgiveness Program for Teachers

Q. What is the Loan Forgiveness Program?

This program is designed to encourage people to become teachers and stay in the teaching profession. Individuals must teach for five years in an educational service agency or school serving low-income families. If eligible, up to $17,500 in subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans may be forgiven.

Q. What are the requirements to qualify for loan forgiveness under this program?

In addition to teaching for five consecutive years in certain low-income schools, the loan must have been made before the end of the five years. Benefits received through teaching with AmeriCorps do not count toward the five-year requirement. The loan must not be in default, unless payment arrangements have been made, and there cannot be any late balance on it.

Q. Where can I look for more information?

The Federal Student Aid website has a complete list of requirements used to determine eligibility for this program.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF)

Q. What is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program?

To encourage individuals to work in public service, those working for the government (teaching in public schools) or a nonprofit organization may be eligible to have the remainder of their loan forgiven after making 120 payments on a direct loan.

Q. What are the requirements to qualify for loan forgiveness under this program?

You must be employed full time by an approved employer, such as a government organization, a nonprofit providing a specific public service, or the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps. The loan type must be a direct loan, and 120 payments must have been made since October 1, 2007. Payments do not need to be consecutive, but can be no longer than 15 days late. The payment plan must be either the 10-year standard repayment plan or an income-based payment plan.

Q. Where can I look for more information?

Information regarding this program can be found online. The Federal Student Aid website provides more details on this program, which should be read carefully.

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Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.

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