Federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant is a non-need based grant available to students enrolled in an eligible program and who agree to teach as a highly-qualified teacher in a high-need field, at a low-income elementary or secondary school for at least 4 years, within 8 years of completing the program for which the TEACH grant was awarded. Students must have a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher, or scored above the 75th percentile on the ACT or SAT or GRE test, if a graduate student. Students must be juniors and seniors admitted to the College of Education at UTPA.
- Undergraduate study: up to $4,000 per year for first baccalaureate to a maximum of $16,000
- Graduate study: up to $4,000 per year for a Master’s degree to a maximum of $8,000
Although students can receive up to $4,000, the amount is pro-rated by semester and by enrollment status:
- Full time - $4000, $2000 per semester
- Three Quarter time - $3,000, $1,500 per semester
- Half time - $2,000, $1,000 per semester
- Less than half time - $1,000, $500 per semester
Failure to complete the required teaching service results in conversion of the TEACH grant to a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan with interest accruing from the date the grant was disbursed.
Availability of TEACH Grant
There is no application needed for the TEACH Grant. The College of Education at UTPA identifies potential eligible students based on students having been admitted to the College of Education and pursuing a high-need area according to the TEACH program. The list of these students is then submitted to the Financial Aid Office for further eligibility review. The Financial Aid Office verifies each of these students and awards based on these students meeting all eligibility requirements described below.
Federal Eligibility Requirements
To receive a TEACH Grant students must:
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
- Meet the general eligibility requirements for federal student aid
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
- Be classified as a junior or senior, post-baccalaureate, or graduate student admitted to the College of Education at UTPA. For admission requirements into the Teacher Education Program visit http://www.utpa.edu/colleges/coe/studentservices/
- Be enrolled in a program of study designated as TEACH Grant-eligible. Eligible programs are those that prepare a student to teach in a high-need area. For example, a bachelor’s program with a math major could qualify for a student who intends to be a math teacher
- Sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve (ATS) and respond to requests by the U.S. Department of Education confirming their continuing intention to meet the teaching obligation
- Complete the TEACH Grant Entrance Counseling
For undergraduate programs, meet one of the following academic achievement requirements:
- Score above the 75th percentile on a college admissions test (e.g. SAT, ACT); or
- Have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.25 (on a 4.0 scale) through the most recent payment period on their college coursework to receive a grant for each subsequent
For graduate programs, meet one of the following academic standards:
- Score above the 75th percentile on a college admissions test (e.g. GRE); or
- Have an undergraduate cumulative GPA of at least 3.25 (on a 4.0 scale) to receive a grant in the first term, or
- Have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.25 (on a 4.0 scale) through the most recent term in the Master’s degree program for subsequent payments; or
- Be a current teacher or be a retiree from another occupation with expertise in a high-need field, enrolled in a Master’s degree program; or
- Be a former teacher pursuing an alternative route to certification within a Master’s degree program.
Agreement to Serve
Each year for which a TEACH Grant is offered, students must sign an Agreement to Serve and Promise to Pay (service agreement). The TEACH Grant service agreement specifies the conditions under which the grant will be awarded and the teaching service requirements. The Agreement to Serve is available online at https://teach-ats.ed.gov/ats/studentHome.action
Entrance Counseling Session
In order to receive TEACH Grant funds, students need to complete a mandatory Entrance Counseling Session. Students can complete this session online by visiting: https://teach-ats.ed.gov/ats/studentHome.action
The TEACH grant exit counseling session is mandatory for TEACH Grant recipients who either graduated, ceased enrollment in TEACH grant-eligible program or will not return to UTPA. If not completed, a hold may be placed in the student records until completion. The EXIT Counseling Session can be completed by clicking on the link here and pressing on the EXIT Counseling button, then clicking START under TEACH Grant Exit Counseling heading.
To avoid repaying the TEACH Grant with interest, students must be a highly-qualified, full-time teacher in a high-need subject area for at least four years at a school serving low-income students. Students must complete the four years of teaching within eight years of finishing the program for which they received the grant. Students incur a four-year teaching obligation for each educational program for which they received TEACH Grant funds, although students may work off multiple four-year obligations simultaneously under certain circumstances.
Highly Qualified Teacher
Students must perform the teaching service as a highly qualified teacher at a low-income school. The term highly qualified teacher is defined in section 9101(23) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 or in section 602(10) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Students must meet the state’s definition of a full time teacher and spend the majority of their time teaching one of the high-need subject areas. Elementary teachers who teach many subjects would not be able to fulfill their service agreement.
UTPA High-Need Fields
High-need fields are the specific areas identified below:
- Special Education (all-level certification)
- Interdisciplinary Studies
- Bilingual Generalist(EC-6)
- Chemistry (High School)
- Life Science (High School)
- Physical Science (High School)
- Science (High School)
- Math (High School)
- Science (Middle School)
- Math (Middle School)
Other teacher shortage areas documented as high-need by the Federal government, a State government, or a local education agency, approved by the U.S. Department of Education, and listed in the Department of Education’s Annual Teacher Shortage Area Nationwide Listing at the time students begin their teaching service.
Schools Serving Low-Income Students
Schools serving low-income students include elementary or secondary schools listed in the Department of Education’s Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits at: https://www.tcli.ed.gov/CBSWebApp/tcli/TCLIPubSchoolSearch.jsp
Students must respond promptly to any requests for information or documentation from the U.S. Department of Education, even if it seems repetitive. These requests will be sent to students while they are still in school and once they are out of school. Students will be asked regularly to confirm that they either still intent to teach or that they are teaching as required. Students must provide documentation to the U.S. Department of Education at the end of each year of teaching. If students temporarily cease enrollment in their program of study or if they encounter situations that affect their ability to begin or continue teaching, they will need to stay in touch with the U.S. Department of Education to avoid their grants being converted to loans before they are able to complete their teaching obligation.
Failure to complete the teaching obligation, respond to requests for information, or properly document their teaching service will cause the TEACH Grant to be permanently converted to a loan with interest. Once a grant is converted to a loan it cannot be converted back to a grant.