Springfield, Ohio — Despite the economic downturn, Wittenberg University is finding new and innovative ways to provide financial assistance to its students.
Wittenberg's Office of Financial Aid recently began offering students interested in education the opportunity to apply for the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program. Wittenberg is one of 435 colleges and universities across the nation approved to participate in the program, which was created by the United States Congress in 2007 through the College Cost Reduction and Access Act.
"This is a unique grant in that it is not need-based," said J. Randy Green, Wittenberg's director of financial aid.
The grant allows the U.S. Department of Education to reach out to future educators by increasing access to educational opportunities in the field. Students interested in teaching in any of six "high-need fields," as designated by the National Department of Education, can apply to receive a $4,000 grant annually through the TEACH grant program.
The "high-need fields" are bilingual education and English language acquisition, foreign language, mathematics, reading specialist, science and special education. The grant requires that students teach at least four years in one of the fields in an elementary or secondary school listed on the U.S. Department of Education's Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation of Benefits upon graduation from Wittenberg.
If students do not teach professionally for at least four of the eight calendar years after receiving the grant, it retroactively converts to a loan that students have to pay back with interest, similar to a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford loan.
Green said the process for Wittenberg to gain access for this grant was not an easy one, but it was definitely worthwhile.
"Lots of schools opt not to participate in this opportunity, as it is a challenge to administer," he said. "However, we really think that $4,000 is something worth putting effort forth for our students here at Wittenberg."
The TEACH grant will open even more doors for students in Wittenberg's nationally recognized education program, which offers a variety of licensure and dual licensure opportunities, as well as a Master of Arts degree for practicing teachers interested in pursuing an advanced degree dedicated to improving professional performance. Wittenberg Department of Education was recently awarded full accreditation by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education, which noted that the university's undergraduate and graduate programs continue to meet the "rigorous standards set forth by the professional education community."
Green said there are currently between six and eight students taking advantage of this financial aid program. To be eligible, students must earn a minimum grade point average of 3.25 and have at least a preliminary interest in teaching.
Written By: Lizzie Amorello '09