If you are not already committed to teaching a high-need subject in a low-income school, please use caution when considering this possible source of funds. According to some estimates, only 20% of students who participate in the Federal TEACH Grant Program will be able to use the funds as grants, while many students will see their funds converted to loans with accumulated interest.
TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve
Each year you receive a Federal TEACH Grant, you must sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve (service agreement) that is available electronically from the Department of Education website. The TEACH Grant service agreement specifies the conditions under which the grant will be awarded and the teaching service requirements, and includes an acknowledgment by you that you understand that if you do not meet the teaching service requirements you must repay the grant as a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, with interest accrued from the date the grant funds were first disbursed.
To avoid repaying the Federal TEACH Grant with interest you must be a highly-qualified full-time teacher in a high-need subject area for at least 4 years at a school serving low-income students. Specific definitions of these terms are included in the sections below.
You must complete the 4 years of teaching within 8 years of finishing the program (if a student ceases enrollment, he or she loses eligibility) for which you received the grant. You incur a 4-year teaching obligation for each educational program for which you received Federal TEACH Grant funds; however, you may work off multiple 4-year obligations simultaneously under certain circumstances. For examples of how the timeline for the teaching service obligation applies for each grant received, refer to https://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds/nslds_SA/public/SaTecTour.do?page=SaTecO3
You must perform the teaching service as a highly-qualified teacher, which is defined in federal law. The definition can be found online.
You must meet the state’s definition of a full-time teacher and spend the majority (at least 51%) of your time teaching one of the high-need subject areas. Elementary teachers who teach many subjects would not be able to fulfill their service agreement.
High-Need Subject Areas
- Bilingual Education and English Language Acquisition
- Foreign Language
- Reading Specialist
- Special Education
- Other teacher shortage areas listed in the Department of Education’s Annual Teacher Shortage Area Nationwide Listing.
Schools Serving Low-Income Students
Schools serving low-income students include any elementary or secondary school that is listed in the Department of Education’s Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits.
You must respond promptly to any requests for information or documentation from the Department of Education, even if these are duplicate requests. These requests will be sent to you while you are still in school as well as once you are out of school. You will be asked regularly to confirm that you either still intend to teach or that you are teaching as required. You must provide documentation to the Department of Education at the end of each year of teaching.
If you temporarily cease enrollment in your program of study, or if you encounter situations that affect your ability to begin or continue teaching and you want to avoid having the grant funds converted into a loan, you will need to contact the Department of Education to request a suspension of your teaching service obligation.