Teaching Scholarships and College Financial Aid

Get information and tips to help you finance your teaching degree.

lady researching teaching scholarships

Even when the time seems right and you've made the commitment to pursue a bachelor's or graduate degree in education, it can still be hard to come to terms with the cost of tuition. The Department of Education's Center for Education Statistics reports that the average cost of yearly tuition, room and board at 4-year colleges is over $20,000, and that figure just keeps rising. That's where college financial aid and teaching scholarships come in.

Scholarships for Teaching

Unfortunately, many students view scholarships as awards given to only the most extraordinary, sought-after and recruited athletes and valedictorians. This misconception often keeps well-qualified students out of the running for scholarships that could enrich their college experiences and change their futures. The truth is there are literally thousands of scholarships available to teaching students. And they can come from some pretty unexpected places.

The secret to securing education scholarships lies in locating the ones you qualify for and applying to as many as possible. In addition to universities themselves, religious organizations, small businesses, large corporations, community groups, generous individuals, philanthropic foundations and even local governments provide scholarships on a regular basis. Read on to learn more about each of these scholarship types so you can be armed with the knowledge of which options would be best for you.

University Scholarships

While colleges do send scouts to sporting events, contests and performances to locate and recruit exceptionally talented students, they also offer a variety of substantial scholarships to students who excel in more understated but no less significant ways. Many times all school applicants are automatically considered for certain scholarships when they apply, so you may not even have to put forth extra effort to get them. Of course, to ensure you cover all your bases, research which teaching scholarships require additional paperwork. Many schools describe their scholarship offerings in detail on their websites.

Academic Scholarships

Students with high GPAs or test scores, challenging course loads and/or significant Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) class experience can receive scholarships directly from colleges as part of their admission package. These scholarships can range from around a thousand dollars a year to full scholarships with housing and book stipends. Again, make sure you inquire with the university to see if you need to complete any additional application paperwork.

Departmental Scholarships

Departmental scholarships are generally offered to students who stand out in a particular field and wish to pursue that field at their university of choice. They are often sponsored by generous donors, foundations or organizations that are affiliated with the college. Teacher education scholarships are offered through many departments, including special education, elementary education, secondary education and sometimes even more specified programs such as speech language pathology and school psychology.

Most departmental scholarships require you to be a full-time student in good standing and to demonstrate either merit or financial need. Many departmental teaching scholarships are available to upperclassmen, so if you've already started your degree program, rest assured you can still find applicable scholarships for teaching.

Athletic Scholarships

These well-known scholarships are given to athletes who excel in a particular sport. Once awarded, the athlete must maintain a predetermined GPA and remain in good standing at the college and within the team. A variety of sports other than football and basketball offer scholarships of varying amounts to students across the country. So, if you are a talented runner or volleyball player who wants to become a teacher, look into athletic scholarships at the teaching schools you are interested in.

Company Scholarships

Often, large corporations set up very specific university scholarships for the children of their employees or for students or institutions that embody certain characteristics they support. Smaller companies sometimes set up specific scholarships, but more often they consider offering scholarships when students approach them with interest. These smaller companies can be a great source of additional funds to help offset the cost of college tuition.

Organization Scholarships

For teaching students, professional associations for your specialty may provide education scholarships as well, whether you are just starting your college career or are a seasoned veteran. For instance, Bright Horizons Family Solutions and the Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation offer scholarships to teaching majors.

Other good scholarship sources include religious organizations, special interest clubs, business associations and philanthropic foundations. Often, generous donors or memorial foundations set up honorary scholarships in the name of well-loved teachers, administrators, founders and family members. See below for additional resources and ideas on how to make the most of these great opportunities.

Government Scholarships

State governments are a great scholarship resource for future teachers. Some states, such as Indiana, Missouri, Tennessee and Washington offer money to college students who promise to teach in that state's public school system after graduating. Contact your state government (often called a "Higher Education Coordinating Board") to find out what kinds of teaching scholarships it offers.

Help Finding Teaching Scholarships

While it's always helpful to keep your ears open for news of scholarships you may qualify for, exploring the many online scholarship search sites dedicated to providing you with relevant, up-to-date information may be a more effective approach. Here are a few well-known providers that will help you start your search:

For more information on financing your teaching degree, read our college financial aid article, with information on grants, loans, work-study and the Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.