A college degree is a requirement for most professional jobs today including education, and with that comes a large tuition bill, so many students apply for education scholarships to help pay for college. According to Investopedia, more than half of students have student debt at graduation, and more than 42 million Americans owe money for college. Repayment can be complicated with an average teacher salary of about $60,000 per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Teacher scholarships like those listed below can ease this financial burden.
How to Qualify for These Scholarships for Teachers
Receiving free money to go to school might seem too good to be true. You might be wondering what the catch is. You’ll also probably be glad to hear that the teacher scholarships we highlight in this ranking are all 100% legitimate—that’s right, we did the heavy lifting for you to determine that these awards are absolutely the real deal. You’re not entirely off the hook, though. To qualify for these scholarships for future teachers, you will have to meet certain eligibility requirements, and the criteria will inevitably vary by award program. Some common requirements for scholarship eligibility include:
For many a teacher scholarship, you’ll have to demonstrate residency in the United States or in a specific state. Many individual states form scholarship programs for future teachers because they have a shortage of teachers in general, or they have a critical need in a specific discipline or teaching area.
Some teacher scholarships are need-based awards. This means that applicants must show low-income or some other indicator of financial need in order to pay for tuition.
Merit-based scholarships for educators consider a candidate’s academic record before determining eligibility. Merit is usually gauged by an applicant’s GPA and/or college entrance test scores.
When teacher scholarships are limited for a specific incentive program, the required essay is often the tie breaker. When essays are requested, consider this your opportunity to stand out among the pile of other scholarship applicants.
Teacher scholarship programs formed in response to a teacher shortage usually require some sort of service obligation. In other words, applicants will be required to teach in the state for a period of time (e.g., 3-5 years) after graduation from their teacher preparation program. Students who fail to meet this obligation must pay the money back.
Robert Noyce Scholarship Program
This is a collection of scholarships given to students looking to teach in the STEM fields which include science, technology, engineering, and math at any level K-12. Schools often experience shortages in these subjects due to higher-paying positions in other industries with a STEM background. This program provides funding to schools across the country so that they can offer teaching scholarships to their students.
The Nancy Larson Foundation
This scholarship is awarded to undergraduate juniors or seniors or graduate students who are studying elementary education. Nancy Larson has spent more than 30 years in the education field, both as a teacher and successful author of mathematics teaching materials. She then founded a publishing company to create resources for other subject areas. Her Foundation awards nine students each year with $1000 for tuition as a way to help offset their financial burden.
NEA – Jack Kinnaman Scholarship
This scholarship for future teachers is available to students who are already taking an active role in the field as members of the National Education Association (NEA) Student Program. Each year, five $2,500 awards are granted to students who are majoring in education. Recipients must demonstrate financial need, academic achievement with at least a 2.5 GPA, and participation in NEA activities at a local level. The scholarship is given in memory of former NEA-Retired Vice President, Jack Kinnaman, who spent his life as an advocate for both students and educators.
Applegate/Jackson/Parks Future Teacher Scholarship
As a way to recognize the courage of three teachers who were terminated when they refused to join a union, the National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR) awards a $1000 scholarship each year to an undergraduate majoring in education. To be considered, applicants must show academic ability and demonstrate their understanding of unions and the difference between compulsory and voluntary membership.
Early Childhood Educators Scholarship Program
For students who reside in the state of Massachusetts, the Early Childhood Educators Scholarship Program is designed to attract talented students to the early childhood education profession. Students who qualify may receive up to $4,500 per semester at the University of Massachusetts or at a private university. Students who elect to attend a state university will receive up to $3,600 per semester, and finally, community college students may be eligible for up to $2,250 per semester.
There are numerous eligibility requirements for the Early Childhood Educators Scholarship Program, which is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Education. For example, students must be a permanent resident of the state, be enrolled in an early childhood education program, and be employed by an early childhood care provider for a period of six months while working towards a degree in the field.
STEM Teachers for America’s Future Scholarships
Sponsored by the AFCEA, the STEM Teachers for America’s Future Scholarships are ideal options for prospective STEM educators seeking a graduate teaching degree. Eligible students can receive up to $2,500, and scholarships are funded by AFCEA International and ManTech International Corporation. To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen and be enrolled in a K-12 STEM education program at an accredited college or university.
American Montessori Teacher Education Scholarship
Students interested in the Montessori approach to education may consider applying for the scholarship awarded by the American Montessori Society (AMS). The amount of the scholarship may vary, but in 2020, the AMS awarded $20,000 to sixteen different scholarship recipients. To meet eligibility requirements, students must have been accepted by (or in the process of applying to) a teacher preparation program affiliated with the American Montessori Society. Qualifying programs include Infant & Toddler, Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary.
While not exactly a scholarship, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant is a federal student grant for aspiring teachers that does not have to be paid back, so long as students meet certain service obligations after graduation.
The amount of the award may vary, but qualified students may receive up to $4,000 per year toward tuition expenses for their teacher preparation program. To meet the service obligation required for the grant, students must teach low-income students in a high-demand teaching area for a period of four years. For students who fail to fulfill this requirement, the grant will be converted to a loan.
James Madison Memorial Graduate Fellowship
If you plan to teach history at the middle school or high school level, then you may qualify for the James Madison Memorial Graduate Fellowship. This generous scholarship awards $24,000 to history teachers who are striving to become “outstanding teachers of the American Constitution.” It is highly competitive, though, as only one recipient will be chosen from each state in the United States.
PDK Educational Foundation Scholarship Program
Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) International offers over one hundred different scholarships for prospective teachers through its PDK Educational Foundation Scholarship Program. The amount of each of these awards varies from $500 to $5,000, and some of the scholarships can be renewed annually. Both undergraduate and graduate awards are available. However, applicants must be a member of the PDK Association or an affiliated organization such as Educators Rising or Pi Lambda Theta.
New York State Math and Science Teaching Incentive Program
If you’re an aspiring high school math or science teacher residing in New York, you may be eligible for a full-tuition scholarship through the NYS Math and Science Teaching Incentive Program. Like the federal TEACH grant, this particular award does come with some strings attached; recipients must agree to teach math or science at the secondary level in the state of New York for a period of five years. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for the program. All qualified applicants will receive the award so long as funds are available. In the event that there are more applicants than the budget allows, candidates will receive awards according to their GPA and grade level.
Oklahoma Future Teachers Scholarship
Students studying to become teachers in high-demand subject areas within the state of Oklahoma may apply to receive the Oklahoma Future Teachers Scholarship. Established by the Oklahoma State Regents, this incentive program for educators awards up to $1,500 per semester to applicants who qualify. Eligibility requirements include residency in the state of Oklahoma, enrollment in a critical needs teacher preparation program, and a referral from an accredited college or university. In addition, recipients must agree to teach in Oklahoma for a minimum of three years post-graduation.
William A. Crawford Minority Teacher Scholarship
Available to prospective teachers who also happen to be part of a minority group (i.e., Black or Hispanic), the William A. Crawford Minority Teacher Scholarship program is offered through the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Students who qualify as low-income are eligible to receive up to $4,000 a year through the scholarship program while all other students may receive up to $1,000 per year. Recipients of the award must agree to apply to work as a teacher in Indiana upon graduation from their teacher preparation program; if hired, they must work in the state for a period of at least three years.
Charles Butt Scholarship for Aspiring Teachers
Funded by the Raising Texas Teachers initiative, the Charles Butt Scholarship for Aspiring Teachers grants qualified applicants up to $8,000 per year toward tuition for a teacher preparation program. To qualify, students must plan to teach in a critical needs area identified by the state, including English, Social Studies, ESL, or Special Education. Currently, about a hundred scholarships are available, but the program is predicted to expand to 500 awards per year in the near future.
Fulghum-Fulghum Family Scholarship
Not specifically for teachers, the Fulghum-Fulghum Family Scholarship is open to students of any major, but the program does show preference to applicants studying education, nursing, or social services. The award amount is $1,000, and eligible students include high school seniors already accepted to an accredited college or university.
Frequently-Asked Questions About Scholarships for Teachers
Q: Are there scholarships for teachers to get master’s degrees?
A: Yes. Though they are not as plentiful, there are scholarships available to graduate students enrolled in a teacher preparation program. Likewise, some scholarships are open to both undergraduate and graduate students.
Q: Are there scholarships for elementary teachers and secondary teachers?
A: Yes. Some scholarships are geared towards specific grade level teachers while others are open to teachers at any level of education.
Q: Do I have to teach a specific subject in order to receive a teacher scholarship?
A: Sometimes. In many cases, scholarships are more widely available in critical needs areas where a specific location may be experiencing a teacher shortage in certain subjects or grade levels. These critical needs areas can change each school year.
Q: Can I get a full scholarship for teachers?
A: Yes, it’s possible. Some scholarship and grant programs will fund your entire tuition for a period of four years—long enough to earn your bachelor’s degree in education. These are sometimes referred to as full-ride scholarships for teachers.
Teaching scholarships can help encourage more students to enter the profession by easing the fear of massive student debt and financial difficulties. Another option is a loan forgiveness program in which graduates agree to work in areas of high need for usually about 10 years while making monthly loan payments in exchange for the rest of the loan being forgiven. Even if planning to use this type of program, education scholarships for aspiring teachers are also helpful.