- Following reports of public school teachers' federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grants being converted to loans, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) says it is now conducting a "top-to-bottom" review of the program to correct the issues and improve the program, NPR reports.
- The program awards grants for undergraduate or master's degrees on the grounds that educators agree to teach high-need subjects in predominantly low-income schools, with educators required to send in annual paperwork as proof of meeting those conditions — but small errors with timing or minute details such as a missing signature have resulted in grants being converted to significant loan debt with interest, according to NPR.
- Dozens of educators have reported having this scenario happen, even in cases where they completed and sent the paperwork ahead of deadline, but legal experts have told NPR that ED has the power to correct the problem, and some congressional lawmakers have explored the possibility of reform legislation to correct the issue.
To say this is a massive headache for the educators involved is an understatement. But the complications extend to their administrators, as well, since working to try and correct these issues also adds pressure and complications to their workloads. In some cases, as NPR notes, principals have tried to verify to FedLoan, the company managing the program, that the educators in question had completed the paperwork ahead of deadline and even tried to fax it from school offices.
Additionally, these issues can add uncertainty to the mix for prospective teachers whose decision on a program might be swayed by whether that funding is available or might be converted to loans. And for administrators, especially at the low-income schools that benefit from this program, that can add yet another layer to problems if it results in a shallower recruitment pool in the long run.
Through its review process, the department now has an opportunity to alleviate these concerns and address the issues in the program that led to them. How it goes about doing so remains to be seen.