Congress Passes Bipartisan Bill to Fix TEACH Grant Program

October 18, 2021

October 1, 2021

This week Congress passed the Consider Teachers Act and the bill is now headed to the President’s desk for signature. The bipartisan bill makes technical, but important changes to the Teacher Education Assistance College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant program – which provides up to $4,000 a year to college students training to be teachers. Within 8 years of graduating, grant recipients must serve 4 years in a high-need field to avoid having the grants converted into loans.

Federal data has shown that more than 63% of grant recipients have had their grants converted to loans due to administrative errors and burdensome paperwork. This has created an unexpected financial burden for teachers across the country. The Consider Teachers Act improves the TEACH grant program and provides additional support to recipients by:

  • Opening a reconsideration process for all recipients who had their grants converted to loans. If the Department of Education (ED) finds that grants were converted in error – the loans will be converted back to grants. Any payments made on the loans will be applied to other loans owed by the recipients or refunded.  
  • Increasing support for recipients by requiring ED provides notification of important deadlines and creates a publicly available list of qualifying schools and high-need fields for recipients. 
  • Reducing administrative burden for recipients by changing submission requirements from once a year to within the service obligation window and providing an alternative for employment certification if schools will not cooperate or the school is no longer in existence.
  • Extending the “service obligation window”. If a recipient has their loans reconverted, they are provided more time to fulfill their service obligation. Years spent teaching while the loan were converted counts towards the service obligation. It also adds an additional three years for individuals whose work may have been disrupted due to COVID-19. 

Many of these provisions simply make permanent the changes made to the program by Former Secretary of Education Betsy Devos which went into effect in July 2021 with the support of the Biden-Harris administration.

Additional changes to the program, including an increase in awards and the inclusion of early education were outlined in the American Families Plan but were not included in the Build Back Better Act now moving through Congress.