NPR

Dept. Of Education Fail: Teachers Lose Grants, Forced To Repay Thousands In Loans

The TEACH grant helps future pay for college or a master's. But many say that when they started teaching, they were forced to pay it back. A study obtained by NPR suggests thousands are affected.
The TEACH grant helps teachers-to-be pay for college or a master's. But many teachers, like Maggie Webb (left) and David West, say when they began teaching, they were forced to pay it back. Source: Kayana Szymczak and Sean Rayford for NPR

America needs teachers committed to working with children who have the fewest advantages in life. So for a decade the federal government has offered grants — worth up to $4,000 a year — to standout college students who agree to teach subjects like math or science at lower-income schools.

But a new government study obtained by NPR suggests that thousands of teachers had their grants taken away and converted to loans, sometimes for minor errors in paperwork. That's despite the fact they were meeting the program's teaching requirements.

"Without any notice, [my grant] was suddenly a loan, and interest was already accruing on it," says Maggie Webb, who teaches eighth grade math in Chelsea, Mass. "So, my $4,000 grant was now costing me $5,000."

Since 2008, the Education Department has offered these so-called TEACH grants to people studying to get a college or master's degree. The deal is, they get

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