The Department of Education has implemented changes to the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant program in an effort to provide greater flexibility and alleviate challenges that previous grant recipients have had in navigating the program.
In exchange for grant funding of up to $4,000 a year for students to complete teacher education coursework, recipients of the TEACH Grant must complete four years of teaching in a high-need field and underserved school within an eight-year period or their grants will be converted into direct unsubsidized loans. The new regulations are more lenient on when the grants will be converted to loans -- if recipients don't certify their completed year of teaching at the end of each year, they'll only be converted if they run out of time to complete the required years of service. The grants will also no longer be converted if recipients don't certify that they will begin teaching within 120 days of graduating or withdrawing from an institution.
The reconsideration process will now be open to all TEACH Grant recipients who have had their grants converted to loans, and additional relief will be provided for those whose grants were converted in error.
The department has expanded the number of reasons that the service obligation may be suspended for a period of time, and a recipient may teach for less than a full academic year but still receive credit for the full year. It will also allow recipients to group together undergraduate and graduate service obligations.
The changes to the program come as the Biden administration explores further enhancements to it through the American Families Plan, including doubling the grant amount, further increasing program flexibilities and addressing high grant-to-loan conversion rates.
“The changes announced today deliver much-needed improvements to the TEACH Grant,” Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a release. “And, through the American Families Plan, even greater investments will be made in the program to strengthen teacher pipelines into the profession, support teacher retention, and address critical teacher shortages so that every child across America can be taught by well-prepared and outstanding educators.”