For Future Teachers

Flowers with carpenter bee from Lot M

There are special programs for students preparing to be highly-qualified teachers in elementary or secondary schools. Most of these programs require teaching in a designated low-income school that is listed in the federal Department of Education’s Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits.

TEACH Grant

The federal TEACH Grant program provides grants of up to $4,000 per year to students who meet the eligibility criteria explained below and who are enrolled in programs at Sonoma State University (SSU) that have been designated as eligible. Eligible programs include those in which:

  1. a majority of students are pursuing coursework to enable them to teach full-time and
  2. students are likely to obtain employment in a low-income school.

TEACH Grant recipients must meet certain conditions in order to prevent the grant from converting into a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan. If the grant converts into a loan, you will have to repay the entire amount to the federal Department of Education, with interest charged from the date the grant was disbursed to you.

TEACH Grant Eligibility

Financial aid applicants interested in the TEACH Grant must contact the Financial Aid Office for a TEACH Grant Information and Checklist form. Basic eligibility factors are:

  • Be admitted to and/or enrolled in an academic program designated as eligible for TEACH Grant. SSU programs include single subject credentials in Math, Science, or English, Multiple Subject credential, Special Education credential, and undergraduates participating in the blended or integrated programs and in Project SMTRI (Science and Mathematics Teacher Recruitment and Retention Initiative).
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the applicable academic year.
  • Meet academic requirements: either maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.25 or higher or demonstrate a college admissions test score above the 75th percentile.
  • Sign the TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve and complete TEACH Grant Counseling each year.

Preventing Conversion to Unsubsidized Direct Loan

The TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve (ATS) obligates you to perform a total of at least four academic years of full-time teaching as a highly-qualified teacher in a designated low-income school, and you must teach in a designated high-need field.

Designated low-income schools include any elementary or secondary school that is listed in the federal Department of Education’s Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits at their Teacher Cancellation Low Income Directory webpage.

Math, Science, and Special Education have been designated as high-need fields in the legislation that created the TEACH Grant program.

You must complete the service obligation even if you withdraw from the program for which you received the TEACH Grant. If you fail to complete the full service obligation, the entire amount of TEACH Grant received converts to a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan.

How to Apply for TEACH Grant at SSU

Complete instructions for applying for TEACH Grant at SSU are available at the Financial Aid Counter on the first floor of Salazar Hall. You may also request the TEACH Grant Information sheet by emailing us at finaid@sonoma.edu or calling us at 707-664-2389. We have the following information sheets:

  • TEACH Grant Information for Credential Students
  • TEACH Grant Information for Project SMTRI and Multiple Subject Blended Programs

SSU School of Education webpage

For information on the academic programs offered by SSU’s School of Education, visit the School of Education website.

Federal Direct Loan/Stafford Loan Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program

The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program benefits teachers who borrowed from the Federal Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized Direct Loan program or the Federal Subsidized and/or Unsubsidized Stafford Loan program. Teaching full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years at certain elementary and secondary schools may make you eligible to have up to $17,500 of your Direct Loans/Stafford Loans forgiven.

Loan forgiveness means the cancellation of all or some portion of your existing Direct Loans. If your loan is forgiven, you are no longer responsible for repaying that remaining portion of the loan.

Direct Loan/Stafford Loan Teacher Loan Forgiveness Eligibility Basics

Eligible teachers only have outstanding Direct/Stafford Loans that were first disbursed on or after October 2, 1998.

The loans for which you seek forgiveness must have been made before the end of your five years of qualifying teaching service.

Any time you spent teaching to receive benefits through AmeriCorps cannot be counted toward your required five years of teaching for Teacher Loan Forgiveness.

You must have been employed as a full-time teacher for five complete and consecutive academic year in a school that meets the criteria listed under Qualifying Teaching Service for Loan Forgiveness Basics below.

Qualifying Service for Teacher Loan Forgiveness Basics

The criteria for qualifying teaching service includes teaching at a school or educational service agency that serves low-income families and is listed in the Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits. The school also must be in a school district that qualifies for funds under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, and have been selected by the U.S. Department of Education based on a determination that more than 30 percent of the school’s total enrollment is made up of children who qualify for services provided under Title I.

In addition, all elementary and secondary schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education, or operated on Indian reservations by Indian tribal groups under contract with the bureau, qualify as schools serving low-income students.

Finally, your teaching service may qualify if the consecutive five-year period includes qualifying service at an eligible educational service agency.

Federal Student Aid’s webpage on Direct Loan/Stafford Teacher Loan Forgiveness

For detailed eligibility and qualifying service requirements, visit the Federal Student Aid webpage Teacher Loan Forgiveness.

Perkins Loan Cancellation Provisions for Teachers

The Federal Perkins Loan program expired in October 2015, so new awards cannot be made. However, if you have an existing Perkins Loan, visit the Federal Student Aid webpage Teacher Loan Forgiveness.

Assumption Program of Loans for Education (APLE)

The APLE program is administered by the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC), but the Commission has not been authorized to accept new participants since the 2011-12 academic year. If you were accepted to APLE during or before 2011-12 and need assistance with your benefits, consult CSAC's website for contact information.

Back to top