A TEACH Grant can help you pay for college if you plan to become a teacher in a high-need field in a low-income area.

You’ll be required to teach for a certain length of time, so make sure you understand your obligation.

TEACH Grants

A Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant is different from other federal student grants because it requires you to take certain kinds of classes in order to get the grant, and then do a certain kind of job to keep the grant from turning into a loan.

Learn how the automatic federal budget cuts, known as the “sequester,” will affect the TEACH Grant Program.

What is a TEACH Grant?
Who can get a TEACH Grant?
What is a TEACH-Grant-eligible program?
What is a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve?
What are the terms and conditions of the TEACH Grant service obligation?
What are high-need fields?
How can I identify schools or educational service agencies that serve low-income students?
Can a TEACH Grant service obligation ever be suspended or canceled?
If I’m interested in receiving a TEACH Grant, where can I get more information?                                    


What is a TEACH Grant?

The TEACH Grant Program provides grants of up to $4,000 a year to students who are completing or plan to complete course work needed to begin a career in teaching.

As a condition for receiving a TEACH Grant, you must sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve in which you agree to (among other requirements) teach

  • in a high-need field 
  • at an elementary school, secondary school, or educational service agency that serves students from low-income families 
  • for at least four complete academic years within eight years after completing (or ceasing enrollment in) the course of study for which you received the grant.

IMPORTANT: If you do not complete your service obligation, all TEACH Grant funds you received will be converted to a Direct Unsubsidized Loan. You must then repay this loan to the U.S. Department of Education, with interest charged from the date the TEACH Grant was disbursed (paid to you or on your behalf). 

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Who can get a TEACH Grant?

To receive a TEACH Grant, you must:

  • Meet the basic eligibility criteria for the federal student aid programs.
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSASM).
  • Be enrolled as an undergraduate, postbaccalaureate, or graduate student at a school that participates in the TEACH Grant Program. 
  • Be enrolled in a TEACH-Grant-eligible program.
  • Meet certain academic achievement requirements (generally, scoring above the 75th percentile on one or more portions of a college admissions test or maintaining a cumulative GPA of at least 3.25). For specific information about the academic requirements, talk to the financial aid office at your college or career school.
  • Receive TEACH Grant counseling that explains the terms and conditions of the TEACH Grant service obligation. You must complete counseling each year that you receive a TEACH Grant.
  • Sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve.

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What is a TEACH-Grant-eligible program?

A TEACH-Grant-eligible program is a program of study that is designed to prepare you to teach as a highly qualified teacher in a high-need field and that leads to a bachelor’s or master’s degree, or is a postbaccalaureate program. A two-year program that is acceptable for full credit toward a bachelor’s degree is considered a program that leads to a bachelor’s degree. A postbaccalaureate program is not TEACH-Grant-eligible if it is offered by a school that also offers a bachelor’s degree in education.

Schools that participate in the TEACH Grant Program determine which of the programs they offer are TEACH-Grant-eligible. A program that is TEACH-Grant-eligible at one school might not be TEACH-Grant-eligible at another school. Contact the financial aid office at the school you are attending (or that you plan to attend) to find out which programs at that school are eligible.

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What is a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve?

Each year that you receive a TEACH Grant, you must sign an Agreement to Serve on the TEACH Grant website. The agreement explains the terms and conditions for receiving a TEACH Grant. By signing the Agreement to Serve, you agree to these terms and conditions and acknowledge that if you do not fulfill the service obligation described in the agreement, the TEACH Grant funds you received will be converted to a loan that you must repay.

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What are the terms and conditions of the TEACH Grant service obligation?

In exchange for receiving a TEACH Grant, you must agree to the following:

  • You must serve as a full-time teacher for a total of at least four academic years within eight years after you complete or otherwise cease to be enrolled in the program(s) for which you received TEACH Grant funds.
  • You must perform the teaching service as a highly qualified teacher at a low-income school or educational service agency.
  • Your teaching service must be in a high-need field.
  • You must provide the U.S. Department of Education with documentation of your progress toward completing your service obligation.
  • If you do not meet the requirements of your service obligation, all TEACH Grant funds you received will be converted to a Direct Unsubsidized Loan. You must repay this loan in full, with interest charged from the date of each TEACH Grant disbursement.

Teacher standing in front of class

Although you agree to a service obligation for each TEACH-Grant-eligible program, your teaching service may apply to more than one service obligation. For instance, if you received a TEACH Grant for your undergraduate program and then for your graduate program, you would have two service obligations, but your four years of teaching would fulfill both service obligations at once.

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What are high-need fields?

High-need fields are

  • bilingual education and English language acquisition,
  • foreign language,
  • mathematics,
  • reading specialist,
  • science, and
  • special education, as well as
  • any other field that has been identified as high-need by the federal government, a state government, or a local education agency, and that is included in the annual Teacher Shortage Area Nationwide Listing (Nationwide List).

If you plan to teach in a high-need field that is included in the Nationwide List, that field must be listed for the state where you teach either at the time you begin your qualifying teaching service or at the time you received a TEACH Grant.

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How can I identify schools or educational service agencies that serve low-income students?

Elementary and secondary schools (public and private) and educational service agencies serving low-income students are listed in the annual Teacher Cancellation Low-Income Directory. In addition, elementary or secondary schools operated by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) or operated on Indian reservations by Indian tribal groups under contract or grant with the BIE qualify as low-income schools.

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Can a TEACH Grant service obligation ever be suspended or canceled?

You may request a temporary suspension of the eight-year period for completing your TEACH Grant service obligation based on the following situations:

  • Your enrollment in a TEACH-Grant-eligible program or your enrollment in a program that a state requires you to complete in order to receive a certification or license to teach in that state’s elementary or secondary schools. For example, if you received a TEACH Grant for an undergraduate program and you later enroll in a graduate program for which you would be eligible to receive a TEACH Grant, you could receive a suspension of the eight-year period for completing your service obligation for the undergraduate program while you are enrolled in the graduate program.
  • A condition that is a qualifying reason for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • A call or order to active duty status for more than 30 days as a member of the armed forces reserves, or service as a member of the National Guard on full-time National Guard duty under a call to active service in connection with a war, military operation, or national emergency.

Suspensions are granted in one-year increments, not to exceed a combined total of three years for the first two conditions listed above, or a total of three years for the third condition. If you receive a suspension, the eight-year period for completing your service obligation is put “on hold” during the suspension period. For example, if you receive a one-year suspension after two years of the eight-year period for completing your service obligation have elapsed, you would have six years left to complete your service obligation when the one-year suspension period ends.

Your TEACH Grant service obligation may be canceled (discharged) if you die or if you become totally and permanently disabled.

You may also receive a discharge of some or all of your four-year teaching requirement if you are called or ordered to qualifying military active duty for a period that exceeds three years.

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If I’m interested in receiving a TEACH Grant, where can I get more information?

Contact the financial aid office at the school where you will be enrolled to find out whether the school participates in the TEACH Grant Program and to learn about the programs of study at the school that are TEACH-Grant-eligible. You also might want to browse the TEACH Grant Frequently Asked Questions.

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