- More teachers working in high-need areas or low-income schools are seeing their TEACH “grants” converted to loans with interest because of miscommunication, late responses or technical issues, according to a NPR Ed update on the issue.
- The TEACH grant program, which began in 2008 and offers prospective teachers up to $4,000 a year in grants if they meet program requirements, is administered by FedLoan, a loan servicer that appears to be largely unresponsive to the problems these teachers are facing.
- A government review of the issue concluded that one-third of the teachers who had their grants converted to loans were likely or very likely to meet the program requirements or had already met them.
As a growing number of teachers face more problems with their TEACH grants, administrators may see this as one more issue that affects the recruitment of teachers to the profession. The Learning Policy Institute cites grant programs such as these as one of the solutions to teacher recruitment — especially in attracting well-prepared teachers. In this article, the authors say that "the rising costs of higher education — and concern about student loan debt — has contributed to many prospective teachers choosing alternative pathways that allow them to begin teaching and earning a salary, while they are studying to be a teacher. Debt loads can be offset with forgivable loans and scholarships that can boost recruitment and retention.”
However, if these “forgivable loans” are not forgiven, this creates a problem not only for teachers experiencing the issue, but for those whose faith in the process is undermined. Prospective teachers are already discouraged by negative messaging from those who are protesting teaching pay and working conditions.
School leaders may not be able to solve the TEACH grant problems, but they can focus on creating a culture in which teachers want to work. Creating collaborative environments in which teachers feel their ideas are valued can reinforce their commitment to the profession despite these frustrations.