The decision to get a degree in Education is an extremely important one. The specialized education and training you receive will provide you with the necessary tools and knowledge to be a successful educator. But how will you be paying for your teaching degree?
Earning a teaching degree is an investment in your future. Financial help for teachers is readily available as Financial Aid and can be the stepping-stone to your future success. The purpose of teacher’s financial aid is to assist students with their college expenses so that financial barriers do not prevent them from achieving their goals.
What is Financial Aid?
Financial aid is the assistance available to help students pay for the costs of attending a college or university. Financial aid for teachers is provided by federal, state, institutional, or private sources and may consist of grants, loans, work-study, or scholarships. Each year, billions of dollars are given or lent to students, and about half of all college students receive some sort of financial aid–giving you the financial help you need for your teaching degree.
Most financial aid is awarded based on financial need, college costs, and the availability of funds. This aid is provided to students because neither they nor their families have all of the resources needed to pay for a college education. This kind of aid is referred to as need-based aid.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements?
In general, to be considered eligible for federal financial aid for education majors, you must:
- Be a United States citizen or eligible non-citizen
- Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an accredited institution
- Be making satisfactory academic progress in your course of study
- Not be in default on any loan or owe a refund or repayment on any previous financial aid received at any institution attended
- Be registered with the Selective Service, if you are required to do so
Types and Sources of Financial Aid
There are several types of financial aid offered to help pay for educational expenses: o Grants o Loans o Student employment (work) o Scholarships.
Teaching scholarships are merit-based aid, and are awarded to students who may or may not have financial need. Students are given assistance because they have a special skill or ability, display a particular talent, have a certain grade point average, or are enrolled in a specific program. Teaching scholarships are widely available but might require some research to find. Grants and teaching scholarships are “gifts” and do not have to be repaid. Loans are borrowed money that must be paid back over a period of time, usually after the student leaves school. Student employment is normally part-time work arranged for a student during the school year. Wages received by the student are used for specific college expenses.
The primary source of financial help for teachers is from the federal government. The federal government offers both grant and loan financial aid programs. State assistance may also be available. Other sources of aid that award money to students come from private foundations such as corporations, civic associations, unions, fraternal organizations, and religious groups. In addition, many companies offer tuition reimbursement to their employees and/or their employees’ dependents. The personnel department at either your or your parents place of employment can tell you whether or not the company offers this benefit and who may be eligible. Lastly, there are also some colleges that offer awards from their own funds or from money received from various organizations. This type of aid is often referred to as “institutional aid.”
Determining Financial Aid Eligibility and Financial Need
Eligibility for financial aid for your teaching degree is determined by subtracting the amount you and your parents can contribute from the cost of attendance. An assessment of your family’s ability to contribute toward educational expenses is made based on the information you provide when applying for financial aid. Income, assets, family size, and number of family members in college are some of the factors considered in this calculation. This assessment, referred to as need analysis, determines your financial need, which is defined as the difference between the total cost of attendance and what you are expected to pay. Financial need will vary between colleges because of each school’s different costs of attendance.
Determining the Student’s Status: Independent or Dependent?
Remember that both students and parents are expected to help pay for college costs. This means that you, as the student, will be expected to contribute to your educational expenses.
If you are considered dependent by federal definition, then your parents’ income and assets, as well as yours, will be counted toward the family contribution. If you are considered independent of your parents, only your income (and that of your spouse, if you are married) will count in the need analysis formula.
To be considered independent for financial aid, you must meet one of the following criteria:
- Be at least 24 years old.
- Be a veteran of the U.S. armed forces.
- Be married.
- Be an orphan or ward of the court.
- Have legal dependents other than a spouse.
- Be a graduate professional student.
Applying for Financial Aid
To apply for financial aid, it is essential that you properly complete the necessary forms so that your individual financial need can be evaluated. It is important to read all application materials and instructions very carefully. The financial aid office of the school you are attending will be happy to provide you with guidance and assistance.
Most education programs use just one financial aid application called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form is a four-page application available at your college’s financial aid office, local high school guidance offices, and state education department offices. Students can apply for federal student aid via the Internet by using FAFSA on the Web. FAFSA on the Web can be accessed at www.fafsa.ed.gov.