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Illinois Teacher Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships and grants are an ideal option for persons who wish to further their education but do not have the financial resources to undertake their studies. This article will focus on the scholarship and grant options available to teachers in Illinois.

Overview of Scholarships and Grants Available for Illinois Teachers

There are a number of options available for teachers in Illinois who are seeking financial aid. While some can come from federal or state organizations, private sources are also available. The requirements for obtaining these scholarships or grants vary. A general requirement and career information are summarized in the table below.

Education Required High school student, minimum
Average Salaries for Teachers in Illinois (2018) $31,500 (preschool)
$55,660 (kindergarten)
$62,140 (elementary)
$63,860 (middle school)
$72,370 (high school)*
Estimated National Job Growth (2016-2026) 8% (all levels, including special education)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Before Applying for Financial Aid

It is important for the interested applicant to complete a Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) form before applying for financial aid. This form can be completed online and will assess the student's need for financial aid as well as educational achievements. Applicants can expect to give information regarding their income, parents' income as well as relevant transcripts. There is a guide to help applicants complete the form correctly on the same webpage as the application form. It is also important that applicants research what requirements they will need to satisfy for each financial aid program, as well as which programs cannot be used together.

State or Federal Grants

When an applicant completes the FAFSA form, Illinois residents are automatically entered for consideration for the State of Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP) grant, the Federal Pell Grant (Pell), and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG). The MAP grant is disbursed based on financial need and is not specific to any education program or age; therefore, adults pursuing an undergraduate or postgraduate program will be considered. The Pell and SEOG grants are specifically for undergraduate students, and persons who have been awarded the Pell grant are given preference for the SEOG grant.

Another option for students is The Higher Education License Plate (HELP) Program. The HELP program provides grants to undergraduate students who are attending colleges for which the special collegiate license plates are available. The Silas Purnell Illinois Incentive for Access Program is a general access grant for students who have been accepted into an accredited university or college. Finally, the federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program is aimed specifically at teachers who are pursuing their first undergraduate or postgraduate degrees.

State or Federal Scholarships

There are a few scholarships available on the state or federal level. Illinois General Assembly Legislative Scholarship is a general scholarship opportunity that is open to students who have been accepted to an accredited college or university. Acceptance for this scholarship is determined based on academic achievement. The Illinois Future Teachers Corps Program, Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship Program, The Golden Apple Scholars Program, Applegate/Jackson/Parks Future Teacher Scholarship, and Straightforward Media Teaching Scholarship Program are scholarship options specific for teachers.

Each program requires that the applicant be enrolled in an accredited college or university. The Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship Program is geared for African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic-American and Native American students who are pursuing teaching careers. The Golden Apple Scholars Program is dedicated to guiding inner city teachers. Of special note is the Illinois Special Education Teacher Tuition Waiver (SETTW) Program, which waives tuition for a student who is pursuing an education degree with an emphasis in special education.

Private Grants and Scholarships

Students can also seek to qualify for private financial aid in the state of Illinois. A few options are the College Savings Bond Bonus Incentive Grant, Illinois Dollars for Scholars Program, BrainTrack Scholarships, Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF)/State Farm Companies Foundation Scholarship and Bright Futures Awards: National ECE Scholarship Program. The first two programs are general and are available to anyone pursuing a degree program at an accredited college or university. The College Savings Grant is available to students who are beneficiaries of an Illinois College Savings Bond, while the Dollars for Scholars Program aims to link wealthy donors with students in need. The BrainTrack Scholarship is open to anyone studying in the U.S. who is pursuing an education degree. The HSF is geared towards Hispanic students who are pursuing a career in education. The Bright Futures Award is specifically for persons who want to enter a program in early childhood education.

Teaching Commitments

There are often commitments that an educator who has accessed specific scholarships and grants must honor. These may vary from one financial aid program to another, and at times there are penalties if the commitments are not fulfilled. For example, educators who access the TEACH Grant program are required to teach full-time in a high-need field at a designated institution that caters to low-income students. They need to begin this teaching career within eight years of completing their teaching program, and it must last for at least four years. If this commitment is not honored, the grant will be converted to a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford loan with an interest rate that will accrue from the date the grant was given.