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Finances in Colorado

30 minutes
30 minutes

Finances in Colorado

This guide walks you through the different types of funding available to help finance your educator preparation program.

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There are as many options to fund your educator prep program (EPP) as there are programs to choose from. By planning ahead, you can earn your teaching license without breaking the bank. 

If you have any questions about financing your education, reach out to a TEACH Colorado application coach or educator preparation program admissions staff for support.

If you’re applying to an educator preparation program at a Colorado university, you may be able to take advantage of Colorado’s Free Application Day. Check it out!

Scholarships and Grants

Scholarships and grants are rewards you can receive from a variety of sources for a number of reasons. The good news is, you don’t have to pay them back! Scholarships and grants are awarded based on your GPA, financial need, previous experience, the school you attend or many other criteria.

When you apply for a scholarship, you will most likely have to prove that you adhere to specific criteria. Be prepared with forms that pertain to your family’s income, your self-identity or your GPA. Use our Aid Explorer to search for scholarships.

If you’re attending an EPP at a college or university, you’ll probably need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), even if the scholarship is offered by your school. You can read more about the FAFSA below.

Third-party Scholarships

Foundations, nonprofits, corporations and even individuals are interested in helping students fund their education. It’s a safe bet that whatever community you are already a part of, like a religious group or an advocacy organization, will have scholarships available to its members. You may find these scholarships on our Aid Explorer.

Did you know that TEACH Colorado offers a $1,000 scholarship? Apply today!

Institutional Scholarships

Many universities and educator prep programs offer scholarships through their financial aid office. These are often merit-based and don’t require a long application process. They are rarely meant to cover the entire cost of education but are a great place to start. 

Look through our Program Explorer or check with the programs to see if your intended institution offers direct scholarships.

Federal TEACH Grants

Uncle Sam wants you to teach! Offered by the Federal Student Aid office, the TEACH Grant offers up to $4,000 a year to students targeting the teaching profession. However, not all EPPs participate in the TEACH Grant program.

To remain eligible for your TEACH grant, after you complete your prep program you must:

  • 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.

If you don’t play by the rules, your TEACH Grant turns into a Direct Unsubsidized Loan which means you will have to pay it back with interest.

Student Loans

We get it—you don’t want to go into debt to finance your teacher preparation. Before considering loans, here’s a few things to consider:

  • If your prep program is at a college or university, you are probably eligible for low interest federal loans. The lower interest, the better!
  • Some federal and state loans may be forgiven—meaning you may not have to pay them back—if you teach in certain fields or schools. Check out loan forgiveness, below
  • Some federal loans do not begin accruing interest until after your program ends, and you won’t need to begin paying back until then either. This means you can get your teaching job before you need to start repayment!

Federal Loans

FAFSA

First things first. To receive any federal aid, you will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The FAFSA provides information about your finances so the federal programs that distribute loans, grants and scholarships can begin to determine your eligibility. From there, you will have access to all the federal options for money to put toward your program. 

Important Date! The FAFSA for the following academic year is available in the fall. Different programs might have different due dates, so check with your program to see when you should turn in your FAFSA to receive aid. 

For most college and university programs, once you’ve completed your FAFSA, the federal government will have the information it needs to determine what type of loan—and how much—you are eligible for. There are two main types of federal loans. 

  1. Federal Unsubsidized Loans begin accruing interest as soon as you receive the money. 
  2. Federal Subsidized Loans take six months after graduation to begin accruing interest. 

Private Loans

You can also apply for loans through private banking institutions, but remember the interest rates on these loans are often higher and they usually require you to begin paying them back before you graduate. 

If you take out federal student loans, you may be eligible for different types of loan forgiveness as well. Especially if you are a teacher or public servant.

Loan Forgiveness

If you 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.

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 while working full-time in public service fields, including teaching.
     

Work Study

Work study is a program that allows eligible students work opportunities to earn money toward their education costs, usually by working on campus. 

If you qualify for work-study, try to align your job or service with your area of study. That way you can get hands-on experience while paying for your education. Some post-baccalaureate EPPs allow you to teach or work in education full time while you complete the program.

Incentives

The state of Colorado also provides certain incentives, stipends and rewards for educators depending on a number of factors. For example, The Colorado Center for Rural Education provides a stipend to teachers who choose to work in rural or high-need areas. Organizations like Landed, which recently extended their service to Colorado, also provide mortgage and down-payment assistance to teachers. 

Accept or Decline Financial Aid

Don’t forget: You’re not finished once you hit that submit button!

You will receive a financial aid letter or email with the details of your award offer. You will have to officially accept these offers to receive them. Remember, schools can offer you loans, which you have to pay back with interest. You can always reduce the dollar amount of the loans or completely decline them if you do not need them.

Once you formally accept your financial aid package, you will be one step closer to beginning your educator preparation program.

Application Fee

When you submit your EPP application, pay the fee. It’s usually around $50, but can range from $0 to $125. There may be separate fees for the university application and the EPP program application. Make sure you read all documentation carefully.

In some cases, there may be fee waivers available, so take this opportunity to check in with an admissions officer or program official to see if you apply.

Did you know? You can get up to $100 towards application and testing fees from TEACH. Learn more about the fee reimbursement!

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