There are many grants, scholarships and work-study programs available to students pursuing their post-secondary education. Students should contact their university or college’s academic and financial offices to speak to an academic or financial counselor about increasing your income options. Even if you are nearing the end of your undergraduate career, considering such options is prudent. There are many research grants and scholarships designed to support upper year students, such as the National SMART Grant, designed for students in the areas of mathematics and hard sciences. Students pursuing a career in teaching are eligible for the TEACH Grant upon completing some specified courses as well as a work placement.
Who Is Eligible?
Many universities and colleges offer the TEACH Grant. Contact your financial office to see if this option is available to you. If so, you will have to start by filling out what is commonly referred to as a FAFSA form. This is more properly called the Student Free Application for Federal Student Aid form and serves the purpose of assessing financial aid. Students are eligible for this grant based on financial need and area of study. Students pursuing studies in education will be considered for this grant. This includes courses for teaching certificate graduate programs. Another step which must be completed in order to receive this grant is agreeing to the conditions of the grant. The conditions as well as other information is provided on their website.
Agreement To Serve
One of the conditions of this grant is to attend counseling regarding the grant before and after receiving the sum. This ensures the awarding process will be carried out smoothly, without any surprises. After attending this counseling you must then sign something which is called an ATS; the acronym for ‘Agreement to Serve’. You will be able to find relevant information on the subject, as well as fill out the ATS form on the Federal Student Aid website. An ‘Agreement to Serve’ must be provided each year that you have qualified for the grant. Once again, ‘initial’ as well as ‘subsequent’ counseling must first be fulfilled to fill out the form. This process can also be accessed on the above-mentioned website by going to the ‘TEACH Grant Counseling Guides’ tab, on the side.
Terms and Conditions
The terms of the grant include the conditions of service mentioned above, as well as many other factors. For instance, you must teach for at least four years after being awarded the grant. These conditions are in place to ensure that the funds were needed and intended for the stated purpose. If you discontinue your teaching studies or do not end up teaching for at least a total of four years (for up to eight after the completion of your studies) then unfortunately, your grant will no longer be considered a grant. Furthermore, it will become a loan which you will have to pay back to the ‘creditors’. If you have received this grant, try to refrain from going into another field after your studies in order to avoid turning your grant into a loan. Proper documentation of your studies in education must be kept in order to preserve your finance’s status as a grant and not a loan.
Another condition for this grant is that you must spend some time teaching in fields which are lacking the most teachers. These are referred to as ‘high need fields’. This includes many fields in the languages, as well as the hard sciences and mathematics. Working with children with special needs such as those which have disabilities also falls under this category. Plan to pick up skills in at least one of these fields during your studies, so that you will have a better chance when applying for positions. This does not have to be your area of specialization but it can definitely be an outlet for a personal passion.