Master of Arts in Teaching Guide: Financial Aid
Welcome to our Master in Arts of Teaching Guide series. Check back for additional information on getting your MAT.
A Master of Arts in Teaching is an excellent way to advance both your pedagogical knowledge and your career opportunities. However, graduate school can be expensive, and many students are leery of entering a master’s program due to the high costs of further education.
The good news is that there are multiple affordable financial aid options for students wishing to further their careers in education. The following information can help you plan how you can finance your education to get your Master of Arts in Teaching degree:
Federal Aid Loan Options
Most students rely on federal aid to help finance their undergraduate and graduate educations. Federal aid options include loans, grants and work-study, and these are the options that you should first consider before looking into private lenders. Federal loans often have lower interest rates and are the only types that are eligible for teacher loan forgiveness incentives. To find out what federal loan programs you are eligible for, you need to fill out aFree Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA) online after you are accepted into a graduate program.
The Federal Direct Loan program is the largest and most commonly borrowed loan source. The U.S. Department of Education offers these low-interest loans in both subsidized and unsubsidized forms. All graduate students are eligible if enrolled at least part time and can borrow up to $20,500 in aid per year. No credit check is required, and students do not need to start paying the loans back until after graduation, after which monthly payments can be adjusted according to income. The types of loans available are Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct Plus Loans and Direct Consolidation Loans.
Low-income students may be eligible for a Federal Perkins Loan, which has a 5 percent interest rate. With this type of loan, students can borrow up to $8,000 annually and the college acts as the lender. Your financial aid office can tell you which specific options are available to you.
Work Study, Grants, and Scholarships
Some students are eligible for assistance that does not have to be paid back. Your FAFSA may deem you eligible for some grants, which are usually based on need. Scholarships for teachers can be granted by colleges, private donors and other organizations, and are usually awarded for achievement.
If there is enough financial need, some students can be placed in work-study programs, which offer part-time jobs on campus. Your FAFSA will determine if you are eligible, and you can check with your financial aid office to see if your college offers this program.
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education, or TEACH Grants, are offered to students who are planning on becoming educators. The grants are awarded for up to $4,000 annually, and students can be deemed eligible if their college participates in this program, they have a GPA of 3.25 or higher, and they agree to work in a high-needs school for a minimum of four years. Eligibility for this grant is determined by the FAFSA.
Also offered by the U.S. Department of Education, Pell Grants are awarded to some high-need graduate students. Grants are given for up to $5,500 and eligibility is determined by the FAFSA.
Many universities and other organizations offer scholarships for students who exhibit high achievement or talent in an area, like academics, stewardship or athletics. Check with your financial aid office to find out what scholarships you may be eligible for. Typically, you need to apply for scholarships, and you can even search for potential scholarships by state.
Private Loan Options
Investigate all of your federal financial aid options before considering a private lender. Typically, private loans will be tied to a credit check and sometimes even a cosigner. Since private institutions and banks offer these loans, the lender is free to set their own terms and rates. In addition, private loans are not eligible for federal loan consolidation or forgiveness programs. Make sure you do thorough research to ensure that you can meet a private lender’s terms after graduation.