A college degree is a must for most professional jobs today including education. But with that, comes a large tuition bill. 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
For high school seniors, 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 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, you will have to meet certain eligibility requirements. This criteria will inevitably vary by award program. Some common requirements for scholarship eligibility include:
For many a teacher scholarship, you’ll have to prove residency in the United States or in a specific state. Many individual states form scholarship programs for teachers in training because they have a shortage of teachers in general. Or, they may have a critical need in a specific discipline or teaching area.
Some teaching scholarships are need-based awards. This means that applicants must show low-income or some other indicator of financial need to pay for tuition. Sometimes, high school seniors must apply for federal student aid to be eligible for certain scholarships. This is part of the process to demonstrate financial need.
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 teaching 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. Many applicants use the essay as an opportunity to highlight their leadership skills.
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). The service obligation begins after graduation from their teacher preparation program. Students who fail to meet this obligation after finishing their undergraduate program must pay the money back. In this way, awards with service obligations could be considered loan forgiveness programs.
Robert Noyce Scholarship
The Robert Noyce scholarship is actually a collection of scholarships given to students looking to teach in the STEM fields. This includes science, technology, engineering, and math at any level from elementary education to secondary. Schools often experience shortages in these subjects. This is often 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 and seniors as well as graduate students who are studying elementary education. Nancy Larson has spent more than 30 years in the education field. She held positions 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 education majors each year with $1000 for tuition as a way to help offset their financial burden.
NEA – Jack Kinnaman Scholarship
This scholarship 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 education majors. Recipients must show 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. Kinnaman spent his life as an advocate for both students and educators.
Applegate/Jackson/Parks 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. The recipient is an undergraduate majoring in education. To be considered, education majors must show academic ability. They must also show their understanding of unions and the difference between compulsory and voluntary membership.
Early Childhood Educators Massachusetts Department of Higher Education Scholarship
Students who live in the state of Massachusetts should be aware of this Massachusetts Department of Higher Education scholarship. This early childhood education 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. Finally, community college students may be eligible for up to $2,250 per semester.
There are several eligibility requirements for the ECE Scholarship Program, which is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Education. For example, aspiring college students must be a permanent resident of the state and be enrolled in an early childhood education program. They must also be employed by an early childhood education 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. This includes those college students seeking a graduate teaching degree. Eligible students can receive up to $2,500. Teaching 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 this scholarship awarded by the American Montessori Society (AMS). The amount of the financial aid award may vary. In 2020, the AMS awarded $20,000 to sixteen different scholarship recipients. To meet eligibility requirements, students must have been accepted by (or be 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. This financial aid award is for teachers in training and does not have to be paid back, so long as students meet certain service obligations after graduation.
The amount of the award may vary. Still, qualified students may receive up to $4,000 per year toward tuition expenses for their teacher education 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 secondary education scholarship awards $24,000 in free financial aid. Recipients are history teachers who are striving to become “outstanding teachers of the American Constitution.” It is highly competitive, though. Only one recipient will be chosen from each state in the United States.
PDK Educational Foundation Scholarship
Phi Delta Kappa (PDK) International offers over one hundred different scholarships for prospective teachers through its PDK Educational Foundation Scholarship. The amount of each of these financial aid awards varies from $500 to $5,000, and some of the scholarships can be renewed annually. Both undergraduate and graduate awards are available. 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. The scholarship is available through the NYS Math and Science Teaching Incentive Program. Like the federal TEACH grant, this particular financial aid award does come with some strings attached. Recipients of financial assistance must agree to teaching students 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 this secondary education 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
Are you studying to become a teacher in high-demand subject areas within the state of Oklahoma? If so, then you 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 in financial aid to applicants who qualify. Eligibility requirements include residency in the state of Oklahoma and enrollment in a critical needs teacher preparation program. Applicants for financial assistance must also have a referral from an accredited college or university. Recipients must agree to teach in Oklahoma for at least three years after becoming college graduates.
William A. Crawford Minority Teacher Scholarship
This financial aid award is 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. All other students may receive up to $1,000 per year in scholarship money. 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
This financial aid award is funded by the Raising Texas Teachers initiative. The Charles Butt Scholarship 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. This includes English, Social Studies, ESL, or Special Education. Currently, about a hundred college education scholarships are available. The program is predicted to expand to 500 awards per year..
Fulghum-Fulghum Family Scholarship
This particular scholarship award is not specifically for teachers. The Fulghum-Fulghum Family Scholarship is open to students of any major. Still, the financial aid program does show preference to aspiring teachers and applicants studying education, nursing, or social services. The award amount is $1,000. 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. But scholarships to fund a master’s in education degree are not as plentiful. Still, 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 like preschool or high school teachers, for example. Others are open to teachers at any level of education.
Q: Do I have to teach a specific subject to receive a teacher scholarship?
A: Sometimes. Scholarships are often more widely available in critical needs areas. Or, these awards may be more accessible in a specific location that may be experiencing a teacher shortage in certain subjects or grade levels. These critical needs areas can change each school year. They could include early childhood education majors, middle school science teachers, or high school math educators, for instance.
Q: Can I get a full scholarship for teachers?
A: Yes, it’s possible. Some teaching scholarship and grant programs will fund your entire tuition for a period of four years. This is long enough to earn your bachelor’s in education degree. These are sometimes referred to as full-ride scholarships for teachers.
Teaching scholarships for students with financial need can help encourage more students to enter a teaching education program. They do so by easing the fear of massive student debt and financial difficulties associated with an education degree. Another option is a loan forgiveness program. With these programs, graduates agree to work in areas of high need for about 10 years. During this period, they make 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.