Pay for Your Connecticut Teacher Prep Program
Pay for Your Connecticut Teacher Prep Program
You know what you want to teach and what program you want to attend. You’re excited to start your educator preparation program (a.k.a. your teaching program), but then you see the tuition bill. How will you pay for this? Is a teaching program worth the cost?
The short answer is yes. Becoming a teacher doesn’t just mean getting your teaching certification. You’re also starting a career that makes a difference in your community. And while teaching programs can feel pricey upfront, Connecticut has among the highest average teacher salaries in the country. Plus, many school districts offer major health and retirement benefits, all of which will set you up for a better financial situation down the road.
When deciding how to pay for your teaching program, remember that you have options. Below, we guide you through some of the best ways to pay for your program.
TEACH Connecticut’s application checklists can help you keep your applications on track. If you have any questions about your teaching program applications, you can also reach out to a TEACH Connecticut coach or admissions staff for support. We’re here for you.
- Grants and scholarships
- Financial support just for Connecticut teachers
- Work-study options
- Already working for a school district? Get support from your employer.
- Public service.
- Federal student loans
- Student loan forgiveness
- Accept or decline your financial aid offer
- Application fee reimbursement
- More guides
Ask about free money
The first step is to look for grants and scholarships from your program. If your teaching program is through a college or university, you may be eligible for funds from the government through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The great thing about these resources is that you don’t have to pay them back. And you may qualify for more than one type of free financial aid!
What are grants and scholarships?
Grants are free money for school. They come from the government or local organizations and colleges. These resources are often awarded based on things like income and family size. Some grant providers, such as small businesses and nonprofits, may have specific eligibility requirements.
The Connecticut Minority Teacher Incentive Grant is a grant program through the Connecticut Office of Higher Education. Eligible students can get up to $5,000 a year toward teacher preparation, and up to $2,500 for up to four years of teaching in a Connecticut public school.
The TEACH Grant
The TEACH Grant—which is unrelated to TEACH Connecticut—is a specific type of award offered by the Federal Student Aid office (the same one that runs FAFSA). The TEACH Grant offers up to $4,000 a year to students entering the teaching profession.
To qualify for a TEACH Grant, you’ll need to:
- Choose a program that participates in the TEACH Grant Program.
- Teach in a high-need field.
- Teach at an elementary school, secondary school or educational service agency that serves students from low-income families.
- Teach for at least four complete academic years within eight years after receiving the grant.
Sticking to these guidelines is important. Otherwise, your TEACH Grant turns into a Direct Unsubsidized Loan, which means you have to pay it back with interest. See the TEACH Grant website for more details.
Scholarships are generally awarded to students who have met specific qualifications in areas such as athletics or academics. You may also find scholarships based on the major you choose, your career choice, your hometown, or other factors like race, culture or gender identity.
Scholarships can come from schools, government aid or private organizations. There are hundreds of scholarships and grants out there, ranging from small awards to full-ride scholarships.
Where can I find grants and scholarships?
If you fill out the FAFSA and apply to a college, you are automatically considered for many scholarships—but not always. Check with your teaching program or financial aid office, and search websites like Fastweb, Niche and Scholarships.com to find more scholarships in your area.
The TEACH Connecticut Scholarship offers $1000 for future teachers. Check out the TEACH Connecticut Scholarship page to learn more!
Connecticut’s Office of Higher Education hosts a page dedicated to state and federal financial aid programs as well.
Financial aid just for Connecticut teachers
Connecticut also offers financial support just for teachers, including housing assistance and loan subsidies.
Get more information about the Connecticut Teachers Mortgage Assistance Program at these links:
Head over to the TEACH Connecticut Salary & Benefits page to learn more.
Teacher loan subsidies
The Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority (CHESLA) offers low-interest loans for eligible students—and some special programs just for teachers.
If you have at least $5,000 in private student loans, you may qualify for CHESLA’s Alliance District Teacher Loan Subsidy (ADTLS) Program. How does it work? If you meet eligibility requirements and teach in one of Connecticut’s 33 highest need school districts, you can:
- Refinance up to $25,000 in private student loans with reduced interest rates.
- Receive a 3% interest rate subsidy.
- Get new interest rates of 0.75-2.49%, including the 3% subsidy.
What does a 3% interest rate subsidy mean?Basically, as long as you teach in an Alliance District school, your interest rate will be lowered by 3%, in addition to your refinanced interest rate. If you stop teaching in an alliance school, you'll keep your refinancing, but your interest rate will increase by 3%.
What to know about FAFSA
Typically, you’ll need to attend a certification program through a college or university (rather than an alternative certification program) to be eligible for FAFSA financial aid.
To find out if your program is eligible, you can use the FAFSA school search tool. You can ignore the Federal School Code question; you don’t need to know yours to use the tool.
You can submit your FAFSA any time after October 1st in the year before you enroll in your program. For example, if you wanted to enroll in the spring of 2022, you could submit your application after October 1st, 2021.
The FAFSA priority deadline for Connecticut is February 15. Remember that some forms of aid are first-come-first-serve, so apply as soon as you can!
Sharing your personal information
When you apply for financial aid through FAFSA or through your program, you’ll need to provide some background information. You’ll likely be asked for your name, Social Security Number, email and other general background information.
Release of information
Some forms also include a Release of Information, which lets specified individuals and organizations access your form details. You’ll need to sign the ROI before your information can be shared.
It’s a good idea to consent to this section, because it lets you be considered for additional financial aid programs.
Look for opportunities to earn while you learn
Most colleges and universities offer work-study options, which let you earn money by working part-time (usually on campus).
You can often match your work-study position to your program. For example, you may be able to work as a teaching assistant or academic tutor. That means you can get hands-on instruction experience while you pay for your education.
Many teaching programs offer the opportunity for you to earn a wage or tuition discount by working in a K-12 public school.
- CREC Teacher Residency: You’ll work full time in a school and receive pay and benefits while you complete certification requirements at little-to-no cost. You’re also guaranteed a full-time teaching
- Relay Connecticut: If you’re already working in a school, Relay can support you to keep your current district position while you get certified and earn a master’s.
- Teach for America: You’ll be placed in a school and teach full-time (with salary and benefits) for two years while you earn your certification.
- Sacred Heart and Fairfield universities both have internship options to work in a school and earn a significant discount off your tuition.
- University of Bridgeport: Bridgeport offers a free master’s degree (33 credits) program work-study option. You’ll work full-time in a school for 10 months in exchange for tuition remission. The program cost is $8,000 total.
You may also be eligible to teach full-time (and get paid!) while you complete any Connecticut teaching program with a Durational Shortage Area Permit (DSAP).
How does a DSAP work?
To teach in Connecticut with a DSAP, you'll need to:
- Confirm you want to teach a shortage area.
- Find and enroll in a Connecticut teaching program that will support your DSAP.
- Get hired to teach full-time in a Connecticut district that will support your DSAP.
Voila! Your program and employer will work together to get the DSAP on your behalf, while you get certified and earn a full teacher salary and benefits.
Check out benefits where you work
If you already work in a school district, you might want to continue working full- or part-time while attending your teaching program. It’s worth finding out if your school offers extra support for employees who are pursuing a teaching certification.
Your school may have scheduling support, such as revised work hours. For example, if your normal work hours are from 8:00am - 4:00pm, your school may let you leave a few hours early in order to attend class. Or, you may be able to use planning or duty time for program coursework.
Schools may also provide tuition reimbursement for staffers who are choosing to continue their education.
Reimbursement can cover anywhere from 3 to 6 credit hours. Not only does the assistance benefit you, it’s also a great way for schools to retain skilled and driven employees. Consider asking about these programs in your next interview.
You may be able to complete your certification fieldwork (student teaching) as part of your position as a school employee. Your school might partner with a teaching residency program that lets you keep your job while you work toward certification. Or, a school might hire you as a full-time teacher under a DSAP while you finish your teaching program.
Some districts are also able to support your fieldwork requirements with minimal impact to your current routine, compensation, or both.
Consider public service
Programs like AmeriCorps offer opportunities to serve in a community and explore career paths. Some AmeriCorps programs, like City Year, provide hands-on experience for people who want to become teachers.
AmeriCorps partners with other programs and organizations that can help you transition into the classroom after your service.
Time commitment and financial benefits
AmeriCorps positions can last for three months or longer. You’ll earn a small stipend during the program.
AmeriCorps alumni also receive an education award after completing their term of service, which ranges from about $350 to over $6,000, depending on how long you worked for AmeriCorps. You can apply that money to any educational expenses, including tuition and student loans!
Click to learn more about AmeriCorps.
Learn about student loans
While taking out loans may not be your favorite option, federal student loans have some perks.
- No required credit. Unlike private student loans, federal student loans received through FAFSA don’t require a credit check or a lengthy credit history. This is beneficial for most students, as credit can often be the one thing that keeps you from being approved for certain financial benefits.
- No payments during your program. Typically, you won’t need to start paying off your loans until after your program ends. That means you can focus on your classes without worrying as much about cash flow.
- Subsidized loans mean that your loans will not accrue interest while you are enrolled in school.
- Fixed interest rates prevent loan amounts and interest from drastically increasing overnight.
- Payment deferral lets you temporarily place payments on hold after you graduate. While interest may still accrue, this option is ideal if you haven’t yet started your new job. And you may qualify to have your loans forgiven! (See below.)
Click to learn more about federal student loan options.
The Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority (CHESLA) offers low-interest loans for undergraduate and graduate students. CHESLA can be an especially great option if you’re enrolled in a program with limited financial aid options, such as Alternate Route to Certification (ARC).
Can I get loans through my program?
Schools and teaching programs may also offer you loans, which you have to pay back with interest. Some programs offer subsidized loans, while others do not (remember, subsidized loans do not accrue interest while you’re completing your program, but unsubsidized loans do).
You can always reduce the amount of loans you accept, or completely decline them if you don’t need them.
Keep in mind that all programs in Connecticut are through colleges or non-profit organizations, so they try to keep fees low (several are less than $10K!). You can easily compare program costs in our Program Explorer.
Explore loan forgiveness programs
If you do use federal loans to pay for your program, you may be able to have all or part of your loans forgiven without paying them back. The federal government offers teachers, especially those who serve in high-need subjects or schools, several ways to apply for loan forgiveness (these programs generally do not apply to private loans through your school).
Check out these programs on the Federal Student Aid website:
- Teacher loan forgiveness cancels up to $17,500 in federal loans for highly qualified math and science teachers who work for five years in low-income schools. If you teach a different subject, you may still be eligible for up to $5,000.
- Perkins loan cancellation wipes out up to 100 percent of your federal Perkins loans for teachers at low-income schools, or who teach math, science or other high-need subjects.
- Public service loan forgiveness cancels the remaining balance of your federal loans after 10 years of on-time payments if you have worked full-time in public service fields, including teaching.
Remember, you've got options to pay for your teaching program. It all comes down to what works best for you financially.
Accept or decline financial aid
Don’t forget: You’re not finished once you hit that submit button!
If you attend a college or university, you’ll get a financial aid letter (or email) with the details of your award offer. You will have to accept these offers to receive them.
Once you formally accept your financial aid package, you’ll be one step closer to your teaching certification!
Get your application fee covered
As you’re exploring financial aid, you’ll probably apply to some teaching programs. Most programs require a fee—usually around $50—when you submit your application.
You can sign up for TEACH Fee Reimbursements to get up to $100 toward eligible application and testing fees! When you sign up for Fee Reimbursements, we’ll also set you up with a personal coach and checklist app, to help you keep track of application steps and deadlines.
Some programs offer fee waivers based on your income. Check with an admissions officer to see if you qualify.