Category: Save Money

Teachers Down Payment

How to Save for Your First Down Payment on a Teacher’s Salary

With rising real estate prices across the board, not to mention in locations with a high cost of living already, buying your first home can seem daunting. You may be planning on buying your first home in a few years, but using these tips today will help you slowly start to save for that first down payment.

Originally, most mortgage companies requested a 20% down payment, which in today’s world can seem a little out of reach. However, with a few years of planning, you may be able to grasp this goal with a teacher’s salary.

Anything under 20% for your down payment may require you to pay PMI – or private mortgage insurance – on top of your mortgage payment, home insurance, and property taxes. Also, with this down payment, you can build up enough equity so that when you do go to sell your home, the closing costs and fees don’t eat up all of your investment.

However, there are a few ways to get a lower down payment as well if the 20% isn’t feasible when you’re ready to buy.

How to Save for your First Down Payment on a Teacher's SalaryCheck out Teacher home loan programs

There are many different teacher home loan programs out there, that allow you to buy a house without a 20% down payment.
Most of them do require some sort of initial investment. FHA, for example, only requires 3%. Even if you plan on investing 20% at the start, you can get some neat perks like discounted closing costs and even donations to your school.

If you do decide on a lower down payment, you may want to continue using some of these tips to ensure you hit 20% equity before you go to sell your home. Be sure to check your mortgage loan for prepayment penalties if you do plan on making any extra principal payments.

Figure out your monthly goal

First, you’ll want to decide the price range of homes you’ll plan on looking at. Next, you’ll want to get prequalified with a lender to see what interest rates and programs you qualify for. Also, this is a good time to see if you need to do any work on your credit as well.
You can also use sites like Karl’s Mortgage Calculator to help you figure out future monthly payments depending on what you pay for your home and the down payment.

Set up an emergency fund

Even while you’re saving for a down payment, emergencies still happen. If you start out with savings that will cover three to six months of expenses, it’ll help you stay on track for your down payment when you need a sudden car repair or have a medical expense.

Planning for emergencies in advance helps you stay focused on your other goals.

Get a savings account

Open up a savings account with your bank or find one online. Make sure it’s an account that you can easily pull the money out of when needed.

You can set up an automatic deposit from your paycheck each month if your employer uses direct deposit. This is the best way because your money never touches your main spending account and eventually you’ll get used to seeing the net amount in your checking each month.

Adjust your budget

You’ll want to set your budget up so that you can reach your goal each month. You may have to change some of your spending habits or even give up some extravagances for the luxury of buying your home. Some ways to cut spending is checking with credit card companies on lowering interest rates. If you pay on time each month with the required amount, you can call in and tell them you want a lower rate.

Also, you may look at renting a moderately nice apartment instead of the three-bedroom house with a huge backyard, or you may want to trade in your car for a lower car payment if that saves you money. Anything that you can cut, even barely, will add up over time.

Use extra income wisely

Anytime you receive any large income outside of your regular salary, consider putting all or most towards your down payment savings. Tax returns are great opportunities to build up your nest egg. If you do any side jobs or summer jobs, try budgeting some of that income into the mix as well.

Your main goal is to funnel any kind of extra income into reaching your goal faster. Saving for a down payment can take a couple of years, but the equity you create will be worth it.

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Children's Consignment Sales - Save & Earn

Ways to Save & Earn at Children’s Consignment Sales (Even if you don’t have Kids!)

If your town is anything like mine, you will see advertisements for multiple children’s consignment sales, especially when the seasons change. After seeing the droves of vehicles at one of these sales year after year, I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about. After experiencing this sale first hand, I realized that there were ways to save and earn money at these events, and as a teacher extra funds are always welcome.

How the Sales Operate

What I did not realize about these sales is that they sell so much more than children’s clothes. They sell toys, books, electronics, bedding, cribs, car seats, strollers, shoes (all sizes), maternity clothes, and junior sized clothes.

To sell, one signs up as a consigner and labels all of the items to be sold; each sale has a specific way. There is generally a small entry fee and they take 20-30% commission. When the sale is over, just pick up the items that did not sell and the money earned. It is that simple.

Ways to Save

These sales rely almost solely on volunteers. Volunteers sign up for a two to four hour shift and can choose to work before, during, or after the sale. The trade-off for these hours is that the volunteers can shop before the public. If you want to save as much as you can, sign up to volunteer. Also, some of these sales have a “First Time Mom’s Club” where if one is expecting or has a child under one year of age, the mother can shop first without having to volunteer.

Another way to save is to make a list. Since these items sell for at least 50-90% off the retail price, it may be hard to not fill your bag full of all the adorable clothes. However, since there is no return policy, beware not to over buy, or you will not get the most “bang for your buck”.

Generally, on the last day of the sale, many items are marked 50% off or more. After buying all of the essentials, it may be worth your time to return and see what is left. If you have a little money left to splurge, getting items at an even deeper discount is completely worth it.

Ways to Earn

If you have children, selling their clothing items and toys will earn money; one simply needs to make sure they have the potential to earn enough to make it worth the time. If you only have a few items to sell that will barely cover the entry fee, it may not be worth the time. So what if you only have a few items, or do not have children?

Being a teacher can give one an advantage to earn more at these sales. When a sale approaches, ask students if they have any gently used clothes that they, or their siblings, have outgrown; this is especially helpful if one teaches elementary school. If at the high school level, it is still beneficial to ask because many of these sales accept clothing through junior sizes. Also ask if they have toys, books, or anything else the sale may take.

If you are involved in any other social group whether through a church or civic organization, ask them as well. The more items you have, the more potential there is to earn.

Going All Out?

This may be a stretch, but if you do not have any sales like this in your area, it may be worth looking into starting one. In my town, the individual that runs the sale keeps all of the profit since the entire staff is volunteers. This may be unrealistic with the time frame a teacher would have to work in, but it may be something to consider.

In Closing

These children’s consignment sales can be a great way to save an earn money. Below is a list of sales in the Tennessee/Georgia region and a website that has multiple cities to search. If you do have one in your town, but have never been, it is worth the time to check it out.

Chattanooga, TN:

http://chattanooga.jbfsale.com/sellView.jsp

http://dkdkgoose.com/chattanooga/

Ringgold, GA:

http://www.theboutiqueforaweek.com/

Cleveland, TN:

https://alc4kids.wordpress.com/

This website has multiple cities listed:

http://consignmentmommies.com/

Happy Savings!

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Grammarly Review 2016

Grammarly Review: Should You Go Premium?

As an educator, more than likely you’ll have a few papers come across your desk, or you’ll be providing some content at an academic level.

There are different grammar checkers online, free and paid, and Grammarly is one of the best-known ones. The platform offers a free and premium version. The premium version will run you $29.95 a month currently unless you bundle months together to get a discounted rate.

Grammarly Review - Subscription Plans

Subscription Plans from Grammarly

After putting the premium version to the test, here are a few insights on whether it is worth going premium with Grammarly.

Pros for Teachers

One tool that could cut teacher’s time in half when grading papers is the plagiarism tool. Grammarly claims that the cloud-based software scans over 8 billion websites to look for plagiarized content. With this powerful tool, I can see this being a much-needed shortcut for teachers when grading student’s papers.

Teachers can use this extra time to focus on helping improve their students overall writing and style.


Also, when using the program in Microsoft Word, you can change the type or genre of the article you’re either writing or proofreading. You do have to add Grammarly to Word by following the prompts from your profile on the Grammarly website.

With genres like essay and research papers to choose from in the academic section, you can move through papers using the grammatical styles associated with each kind of writing. Adding the Grammarly tool to Word and the plagiarism tool are both only available through the premium membership.

2016 Grammarly Review for TeachersHelpful Tools for Writing

Another perk of going premium is being able to look at advanced issues in your writing. When using the free version, Grammarly lets you know there are “X” amount of advanced issues that you can see IF you upgrade to premium.

If you tend to write more than the average person and are interested in improving your writing skills and grammar, being able to look at the advanced issues is one of the best tools the software provides.

Personally, I tend to write in the passive voice more than I want in my writing. The premium version of the grammar checker has helped me work towards breaking this habit. Also, it breaks the habit of using any repetitive words and even suggests synonyms that may fit better with your wording.

Also, the ease of use of the software is great. Adding extensions to your browser and Word are simple and using the grammar checker is self-explanatory.

Grammarly checks over 250 types of grammatical issues, spelling mistakes, and enhances the vocabulary of the user in the premium version. What I found using the tool is that they do deliver well on all of these categories.

The Drawbacks

Grammarly does have a few drawbacks.

It’s grammar suggestions may not always make sense regarding what you’re trying to write and get across to the reader. At this point, you have to use your best judgment in going with the suggestion or sticking with your original writing.

An example of this is when the passive voice is necessary, and it wouldn’t make sense to use the active voice in the context of your writing. Grammarly tends to do this in different style tips and suggestions. Just check the context and decide on what sounds better to you.

Also, when using the browser extension, Grammarly hasn’t picked up on how writing may differ on your personal social media. Sometimes when you add new statuses on different platforms, it’ll pick up multiple errors on abbreviations and social lexicon.

Just clicking through these and being able to post can be time-consuming as well as irritating.

Grammarly Review – The Verdict

Grammarly has a lot to offer to anyone who takes their writing seriously or grades any papers in an educational setting.

With only a few drawbacks, the pros greatly outweigh the cons. The writing enhancing tool, whether in the free or premium version, does help writers create better content and helps break any old writing habits.

If cost isn’t a factor for you and you enjoy improving your writing skills, the premium version may be a tool you’ll find useful.

Overall, if you plan on writing more than the average person or you’re an educator who does need to proofread constantly, I would recommend the premium tool. If you don’t grade papers often or need to write much, trying the free version out would probably cut it for you.  Start with the free version of Grammarly here.

Have you tried Grammarly’s premium version? What did you think of the grammar checker’s tools?

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13 Teacher Freebies For EVERY Educator!

I admit, the title of this post about teacher freebies is a bit misleading.

In truth, this list includes links to THOUSANDS of teacher freebies.

These 13 freebies are either individual freebies you can claim today, or links to online resources with hundreds (or thousands!) more freebies – worksheets, activities, lesson plans, you name it.

I tried to select a variety of teacher freebies that would suit most, if not all educators.  Besides some great stuff for your class, your students and/or your school, there are some freebies here for YOU too.  You deserve to be rewarded too, right?

That said, on to the free stuff!

1) Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft is offering all qualifying teachers (and students!) Microsoft Office 365 for free! You will also get 1TB of online storage. This one’s a no-brainer if you qualify.
Link: http://bit.ly/MicrosoftEducators

2) ClassCentral

Thousands of free online courses from top universities like Harvard, MIT and others. Great for your own professional development or for ideas/inspiration for your own classes!
Link: https://www.class-central.com/

3)Thrive Market – Free Coconut Oil

OK. This one’s a bit of a stretch to call a teacher freebie, but it is a highly recommended freebie nonetheless. Thrive Market is an amazing service that delivers healthy, organic groceries to you directly for up to 50% off retail prices. They are currently giving away a free 15 oz Virgin Coconut Oil. Just pay a small shipping charge.

Plus, you’ll get 15% off your first order. Big savings for busy, hungry educators!
Link: http://bit.ly/ThriveMarketEducators

4) Educents Freebies

Educents currently offers over 500 printable teacher freebies, including lesson plans, worksheets, activities and more! Spans pre-K to 12th grade.
Link: http://bit.ly/EducentsFreebies

13 Awesome Teacher Freebies for Every Educator5) He Named Me Malala DVD

Teachers are eligible to receive a free copy of this DVD and education license that you can use to bring Malala’s
inspirational and compelling story into your classroom.
Link: http://www.prizelabs.com/withmalala/

6) Switch DVD & More

The “Energy Film & Education Project.” Educators can get a free copy of the award-winning documentary on DVD plus access to a curriculum and study guide, as well as access to more online resources.
Link: http://www.switchenergyproject.com/education/free-dvd-and-online-access

7) Turbo Tax

Everyone hates taxes. Don’t hate filing them with Turbo Tax! Educators can file for Federal and State Taxes for $0 and “Get the Maximum Refund, Guaranteed!”
Link: http://bit.ly/TurboTaxEducators

8) United for Human Rights Info Kit

Get a free DVD, The Story of Human Rights booklet, and a guide you can use to help bring about awareness and understanding of human rights and to start making a difference!
Link: http://bit.ly/UnitedForHumanRights

9) Audible

Get a free 30 Day trial + Two free premium audiobooks. Great for professional development or entertainment purposes.

Choose from over 180,000 audiobook titles to help make your commute to and from school more bearable! Audible, an Amazon company, offers the world’s largest selection of digital audiobooks and spoken word content. “With Audible, customers can listen anytime and anywhere to professionally-narrated audiobooks across a wide range of genres.”
Link: http://bit.ly/AudibleTrialEducators

10) Free Technology for Teachers

A regularly updated and massively popular blog that features hundreds if not thousands of the newest free
technologies, apps, etc. that teachers can use in their classrooms.
Link: http://www.freetech4teachers.com/

11) Help Prevent Underage Drinking Kit

SAMHSA (The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) is offering a free underage drinking
prevention kit that includes a teaching guide, poster, worksheets and a family guide.
Link: http://bit.ly/PreventUnderageDrinking

12) IdentityForce

Identity thieves are everywhere. Last year over 12 million individuals were victims of this faceless crime. Get protected today with a free two week trial of this top identity protection service.
Link: http://bit.ly/EducatorIdentityProtection

13) Grammarly

Great for educators and students alike. This free, must-have tool corrects more than 250 types of grammatical mistakes, while also catching contextual spelling errors and poor vocabulary usage.
Link: http://bit.ly/GrammarlyFree

You’ve Got 99 Problems and Teacher Freebies Ain’t One!

This is just a small sample of teacher freebies we were able to find, there are 99 more in our Ultimate list of 112 Teacher Freebies! You can download via the “Get the Ultimate List” box below or here: The Ultimate List of 112 Educator Freebies.

Save yourself and/or your school some money and grab that list today. There’s truly something (or a lot of things!) for everyone there.

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The Real Cost of Higher Education for Teachers

The Real Cost of Higher Education for Teachers

According to the No Child Left Behind act and Common Core, public school teachers in grades pre-k through twelfth must have a teaching certification—typically the result of an undergrad teaching degree—and must partake in continuing education, earning a set amount of credits or hours per licensing timeframe.

Continuing education can take a variety of forms, including traditional college credits, seminars, or professional development courses, and specific requirements vary from state to state. Some states like Arizona require 180 clock hours, while others, such as Iowa and Maryland, require six semester hours. Then there are states—California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island specifically—that have no state regulations for continuing education, instead leaving it up to individual school districts to determine what its teachers need.




For many years, most school districts provided its teachers in-house training and workshops to help offset the expenses of continuing education, but as costs become higher and budgets become lower, this is not nearly as common and teachers are having to find—and fund—their own continuing education.

Why Continuing Ed?

There’s no doubt, the better teachers teach, the better children learn. Improving the quality of teaching students receive is the most important factor for student success. That’s why there’s such a focus on continuing education. It’s designed to help teachers improve teaching skills, learn new technologies, and find innovative ways to prepare America’s youth for the future.

Although there’s a huge range of styles and topics in continuing education, here are some common themes:

  • Anti-bullying
  • Character development
  • Incorporating classroom technology
  • Common Core
  • STEM promotion
  • Literacy
  • Special needs

Real-Cost-of-Higher-Education-Pinterest

The Traditional Master’s of Education

For some teachers, earning a Master’s of Education is the optimum choice, but for others it’s not. Graduate level courses tend to be more expensive than other continuing ed options, with the advance degree averaging from $12,000 for less expensive online universities to $200,000 and up for Ivory League schools. According to the National Center for Educator Statistics (NCES), teachers with advanced degrees earn, on average, 11 percent more in public schools and eight percent more in private than their BA-only counterparts. Over the years, that 11 percent adds up.

Yet for new teachers, earning a Master’s degree right out of undergrad may not be the best bet. Nearly 50 percent of school teachers quit teaching during the first five years, and that’s not good odds for that kind of investment. Instead of going straight through to graduate school, consider getting some real classroom experience. Make a commitment to teach for at least two to three years before deciding to pursue higher education. By that point in time, you should know if teaching agrees with you and if it’s something you want to do for the rest of your life. If so, start looking into colleges and universities. If not, give it a few more years before deciding. After all, there’s other, less expensive ways to earn those continuing education credits.

National Board Certification

For those who are looking for a certification that’s recognized across the country, the National Board Certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is the best choice. Given from the independent non-profit, this certification takes more than a year to earn and is the highest mark of professional accomplishment in the field of education. To be eligible, you must possess a Bachelor’s of Education and have at least three years teaching or school counseling experience, as well as a valid teaching license, in applicable. Candidates must complete a computer-based assessment and create a portfolio that showcases their abilities. The certification process does has a $2,500 assessment fee, but since it lasts a lifetime, it will more than pay for itself. Most school districts offer salary incentives for those who complete the process and some may assist with the fee. Some teacher unions, educational institutions, and educational non-profits also offer assistance for National Board Certification.

Federal TEACH Grant

The federal Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant is a readily available grant for both teachers and students in the education field. You can apply for up to $4,000 per year, with a maximum of $16,000 for undergraduate studies and $8,000 for advanced degrees. To be eligible for the TEACH grant, an agreement must be signed that lists specific teaching requirements that must be meant within eight years. These include things like working in low income districts or in high demand fields. If the individual fails to do so, the grant becomes an unsubsidized Direct Stafford loan and repayment must begin.

Other Options

With thanks to modern technology, continuing education comes in a wide range of environments. There are online classes, weekend seminars, afterschool workshops, traditional classrooms, and self-study. Education for teachers has never been easier or more convenient. And although the cost of continuing education for teachers is going up, it’s making our teachers better and benefiting our students immensely.

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Teacher Savings on Car Insurance

Teacher Savings on Car Insurance and Major Vehicle Repairs

Despite one’s best efforts, sometimes costly vehicle repairs are unavoidable. This can be due to an accident, neglect, or a vengeful student skilled at avoiding camera detection in the parking lot.  When it comes to these repairs, it is good to know what car insurance providers have special deals for educators, how to save on engine repair, and how to save on interior and exterior body work.

Car Insurance Providers with Teacher Deals

If major repair work is required on a vehicle, and it is due to an accident, it will generally involve your insurance company. Two major car insurance providers that offer special educator incentives and discounts are Horace Mann and Liberty Mutual.

Horace Mann insurance proudly displays that they were “Founded by Educators for Educators”. They offer a program called Educator Advantage® that adds certain perks to their insurance policies. The most significant perk includes “a waiver or reduced deductible for covered vandalism losses on or near school property, or while at a school-sponsored event.” So if a passive aggressive student bent on revenge decides to slit your tires or key your car, it most likely will be covered. This program also offers added roadside coverage, new car replacement if a new car is deemed a “total loss”, assistance with veterinary bills if your pet is injured in an accident, and liability coverage if you transport students in a vehicle they insure.

Liberty Mutual offers Teacher’s Auto Insurance which also covers instances of vandalism on or near school property. They also offer Personal Property Coverage which covers stolen teaching materials or school-owned property up to $2,500. Another advantage is their Collision Coverage, which covers your car if you are driving it for school business.

Major Repairs on Engine/Transmission

According to Robert Bookout, owner of Bookout’s Tire and Lube for over 40 years, “The cheapest car to have is the one you already own.” Paying outright for repair damage can be costly. It may be difficult to not think about a new vehicle when one gets a $2500-$3000 repair bill on a transmission or engine, but in the end it is generally cheaper to pay this bill rather than purchase a different vehicle.

When it comes to the engine/transmission , a repair shop is generally better than a dealership because they have more specialized equipment. To find the best shop, ask other individuals about who repairs their vehicles and do a search for local providers. After narrowing the results, see which ones have the best reviews. Also if they offer any type of military or student discount, always ask if they will extend it to teachers as well.

Interior and Exterior Repairs

For interior repairs, an auto upholstery shop or an auto trim shop will usually be the best. Sometime engine repair shops can recommend a good provider for this; if not, it is back to the faithful word-of-mouth and internet search.

Exterior work can be completed in a few different ways. There are shops that will do all exterior work or you can choose to go to a specialist for each different item that needs to be repaired. If only repairing one specific part of the car, a specialty shop may be the best route since they will have more expertise in that specific area.

When researching a shop, ask them if they have used parts that they either receive from a supplier or a vehicle junk yard. If there is a local junk yard in your area and the shop does not partner with them, it will be worth your time to call and see if the junk yard has the specific undamaged part your vehicle needs; this will make the repair cost significantly less.

For tire repair, ask local shops if they keep any moderately used tires. Some shops advertise used tires, so check there first. If money is tight, and on an educator income it definitely can be, used tires will hopefully last until enough can be saved to purchase new ones.

In Closing

Many non-accident repair bills can be avoided by simply keeping up with vehicle maintenance; you can read how to save on that here. Since many repair bills can quickly reach thousands of dollars, using the tips listed above will help keep the price as low as possible. This leaves more money for us to buy classroom supplies; just kidding!

The author would again like to thank Tommy and Robert Bookout for their expertise in writing this article.

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6 Top Continuing Education Scholarships for Teachers

6 Top Continuing Education Scholarships for Teachers

Often dubbed a labor of love, there are many challenges associated with the teaching profession. Chief among these challenges is the cost teachers face when continuing their studies or pursuing career development opportunities. This list of six top continuing education scholarships for teachers is most useful for those who are committed to making a lifelong career of educating the nation’s children and powerfully impacting lives.

The Renshaw Fellowship

Administered by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), the Renshaw Fellowship has three grants available to its fellows – 5 awards of $15,000 each, 3 awards of $10,000 each, 7 awards of $5,000 each. Applicants must be members of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and currently pursuing their doctoral studies or have applied to doctoral programs in education. Awardees can use the funds at their discretion to cover either living or tuition expenses. Students attending pre-professional programs such as in medicine, law, divinity or business are ineligible.

AFCEA Educational Foundation STEM Scholarships

The Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) Educational Foundation Stem Scholarships benefits at least 50 students working towards a degree or license that will allow them to teach a STEM subject (science, technology, engineering or math) at the grade K-12 level at a US school. The scholarships value between $2500 and $5000. Applicants must have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 and be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program at an accredited college or university. Those working towards their license must have received at least a bachelor’s degree in a STEM major. The expected date of graduation or completion of studies cannot be in the same year the scholarship is to be awarded. Undergraduate students are ineligible.

E.A.C.H. Early Childhood MINNESOTA

The aim of the T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood MINNESOTA scholarship program is to improve commitment and stem high staff turnover in the field by encouraging early childhood and school-age care professionals who want to further their education and improve their compensation. T.E.A.C.H (Teacher Education And Compensation Helps) offer varying types of scholarships, with most awarding recipients with benefits that cover majority costs of tuition and textbooks, along with travel stipend and paid release time. To be eligible, applicants should already be working as child-care professionals or early childhood educators, and gained acceptance into a Childhood Development or Early Childhood Education degree program at an accredited two or four-year college in Minnesota. Center directors, approved trainers and professional development specialists, family child care providers, and staff at early childhood and school-age care programs are eligible.

Paul R. Wolf Memorial Scholarship

Paul R. Wolf Memorial Scholarship program, administered by the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, is meant to encourage college students who display keen interest in entering the teaching profession with specific focus on teaching Surveying, Mapping, or Photogrammetry. A scholarship of $3,500 is awarded to the selected student who must be a member of ASPRS and enrolled in a graduate program that will allow them to pursue a career in teaching one of the three subjects mentioned.

Prospective 7-12 Secondary Teacher Course Work Scholarships

The Prospective 7-12 Secondary Teacher Course Work Scholarships is administered by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and supported by the Texas Instruments Demana-Waits Fund. A scholarship valued up to $10,000 is awarded to a college student to help finance their studies as they pursue a career as a secondary math teacher. To be eligible, applicants must presently be completing their sophomore year of college, and scheduling for full-time study at a four or five-year college or university. Applicants need to be studying toward a diploma that will allow them to become certified teachers of secondary school math.

TEACH Grant

The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant is a federal grant program aimed at giving students financial assistance as they pursue their teaching and education degrees. The grant, valued up to $4,000 per year, is awarded to students completing or planning to complete prerequisite course work for pursuing a career in teaching. A condition of the grant is that the recipient sign an agreement, committing to work in a high-need field, at an elementary school, secondary school, or educational service agency that serves students from low-income families for at least four complete academic years within eight years after completing their course of study or otherwise no longer enrolled in the program for which the TEACH Grant fund was received. Eligible students must be enrolled in a TEACH Grant eligible program, and be scoring above the 75th percentile on one or more portions of a college admissions test or maintaining a cumulative GPA no lower than 3.25.

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8 Tax Savings Tips for Teachers

8 Tax Saving Tips for Educators

With tax season upon us, you may be crunching numbers, collecting tax documents, and wondering about a possible refund.

There are a few ways for you as a teacher to potentially receive even more of a tax refund! Learn how with these 8 Tax Saving Tips for Educators.

1) Educator Expense Deduction

Educators who teach kindergarten through twelfth grade and work at least 900 hours a year at a school providing elementary or secondary education can use the $250 deduction for unreimbursed expenses. Married educators can deduct $500 for these expenses, using $250 individually.

Who exactly can use the deduction? Any of the following as long as they meet the school and 900-hour requirement.

  • Teachers
  • Counselors
  • Instructor
  • Principal
  • Aide

Expenses include books, supplies, and computer equipment used in the classroom. Some restrictions apply to the deduction and decrease the amount an educator may take. An example is taking tax-free withdrawals from Coverdell education savings accounts.

2) Income Outside of School

Anytime you make income outside of your W2, you have to report the income yourself. This “self-employed” income is subject to taxation and can incur a penalty if you’re not withholding enough or paying it throughout the year.

If you have a side hustle or even tutoring in the summer where the check is made out personally to you, you need to be either withholding more tax on your teacher’s salary to cover the tax for your side project or you can set up quarterly payments.

Working with your tax professional can help you set up the correct amount with either strategy.

3) Continuing Education


If you take courses that you cover the costs for personally, you can deduct up to $2000 a year. This amount may differ in higher income brackets. While this is not yet a permanent deduction, the Compromise Tax Bill was renewed for 2015 and 2016.

This deduction is an above-the-line credit meaning it decreases your overall adjusted overall income that is taxable. This helps about other deductions dependent on your AGI as an added bonus.

Pursuing continuing education? Be sure to check out our article with 6 Top Continuing Education Scholarships for Teachers.

4) Charitable Donations

Throughout the year, you may be asked for many donations as a teacher well-known in the community. Be sure to keep record of these as they do add up. This is an itemized deduction on your tax return. If you have other deductions like mortgage interest and other itemized items, this category is a good one to keep up with.

Also, if you buy anything that you donate to your school, these can become a charitable donation as well.

5) Working Parents Deduction

While you’re educating the young minds of the future, someone may be educating or watching over your even younger mind of the future.

Whether using a babysitter, nursery, day care, or preschool for childcare, working parents can get a certain amount depending on income and age of the child. Keeping receipt of these expenses can help get you a larger refund.

6) Student Loan Interest Deduction

If you have lingering debt and interest payments, you can deduct up to $2500 for tax purposes. The great thing about this credit is it comes off of your taxable income. This won’t be affected by whether you itemize deductions or not.

Single filings under $80,000 for their adjusted gross income qualify for this deduction while married filing jointly have an AGI limit of $160,000.

It covers interest payments from loans that helped pay for tuition, books, room and board, and other necessary expenses for continuing education. There could be some adjustments if you have employer assistance or Coverdell withdrawals.
Tax Savings Tips for Educators

7) Travel Expenses

If you travel to conferences, events, and school-sanctioned conventions, you can keep a log of your mileage and get a tax deduction. Also, if you have an overnight stay, lodging and meals can become a factor for tax savings as well.

Any educators required to travel between different school buildings during their work day can also log the miles to deduct as well. Checking up on the yearly mileage rate can help you calculate the tax break.

8) Medical Expenses

If you itemize deductions and have  medical expenses that you paid out of pocket (premiums, fees to offices, medical transportation, etc.) that exceed 10% of your AGI, you can deduct these expenses.

Only the expenses that exceed this amount can be included in your itemizations but can help out on your refund.

Finding That Tax Break


With these tax saving tips for educators, you can find a few ways to help bring back more of your money come April 15th. Working with your tax planner can help you make 2015 a great year and even start creating your best tax strategy for 2016.

We are happy to share that a couple of companies that offer educators free tax software. The First is Turbo Tax, which makes a promise of “Max refund, guaranteed.” File your Federal & State Taxes for $0. An alternative to TurboTax educators might consider is OnePriceTaxes.com, which offers “Easy, Accurate & Fast Online Tax Filing”.

This article contains information for general guidance only. Please consult with professional accountants, tax planners, and financial advisors on specific financial situations.

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8 Top Grants for STEM Teachers

8 Top Grants for STEM Teachers

Although everyone understands the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in the classroom, the cost involved with being a STEM teacher makes many question its benefits.

There’s expensive lab equipment. There are chemicals, tools, and supplies. Then there’s the cost of continuing education and professional development, important in all educational disciplines, but especially so in STEM fields due to their ever changing growth and development.

Due to the promotion of STEM education in school, the need for innovative and dedicated STEM teachers is at an all time high. To encourage teachers who can develop students’ interest to pursue these fields, there’s a growing list of grants and awards available.

Here’s a list of the top grants for STEM teachers and what each entails.

1) ACS-Hach High School Chemistry Grants

Each year, the American Chemical Society offers $1,500 ACS-Hach High School Chemistry Grants to high school chemistry teachers who encourage enthusiasm in their students by enhancing classroom learning, promoting scientific exploration, and raising an interest in chemistry. Funds can be used for classroom supplies such as lab equipment or teaching manuals, or for professional development, outreach, or field studies.

2) AIAA Foundation Classroom Grant Program

The AIAA Foundation Classroom Grant Program is put forth by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts and offered annually. These $250 grants are awarded to K-12 teachers who engage and inspire students by incorporating STEM concepts in the classroom in innovative and fun ways. The money can be used on a variety of things to enhance the learning experience, including software, equipment, and science learning kits.

3) Classroom-Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams Challenge

Through Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lemelson-MIT Program, the Classroom-Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams Challenge grant program gives up to 15 groups of students and teachers funding to come up with an innovative, technological solution for a real problem the world faces today. The teams that receive the $10,000 grants are to use the money to fund the development of their idea, giving the teams hands-on experience with STEM concepts in real world situations.

4) Emerging Teacher-Leaders in Elementary School Mathematics Grants

One of the many grants offered by the National Council of Teacher of Mathematics (NCTM), the Emerging Teacher-Leaders in Elementary School Mathematics Grant is for Pre-K-5th grade math teachers who are utilizing their own teaching methods in the classroom and demonstrating innovation and drive for math education. To be eligible for this grant, which can be up to $6,000, you must be a member of the NCTM.

5) NSTA Awards & Recognition Program

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) gives a range of awards and recognitions to those inspiring students to explore and become interested in the science fields. For over 40 years, the NSTA Awards and Recognition Program has been raising awareness of the outstanding work individuals are doing in science education and awards are given in a variety of specialties, including agricultural science, biotechnology, and engineering. There are also awards given to new teachers, those who build public interest, and those promoting science education in informal or non-traditional settings.

6) NWA Sol Hirsch Education Fund Grants

Given by the National Weather Association, NWA Sol Hirsch Educational Fund Grants are designed for elementary, middle, and high school teachers who are exposing students to the study of meteorology, which is often under represented in science classrooms. The $750 grants can be used to purchase classroom materials, develop community outreach programs, or for professional development.

7) Toshiba American Foundation

The Toshiba America Foundation gives grants to grade 6-12 teachers to fund projects that allow students to “do science.” Awarded to teachers who demonstrate passion for engaging students in STEM classes, these grants have funded a wide range of projects including robotics, greenhouses, genetics and DNA, and 3D animation.

8) Toyota Tapestry Grants for Science Teachers

Together with the National Science Teachers Association, Toyota offers the Toyota Tapestry Grants for Science Teachers. Up to fifty $10,000 grants are issued to K-12 teachers who are demonstrating passion for increasing the quality of science education and getting students interested in the science fields. The grant money is designed to fund student-organized, community-based projects in the physical sciences, environmental sciences, or those that promote literacy and science.

Think Beyond STEM

When it comes to grant money, think beyond STEM specific grants. The US Department of Education has a multitude of initiative and grants available for teachers in all disciplines. Some focus on minority and low-income educational settings and others on those individuals and programs that demonstrate growth and initiative. Many local and national teaching organizations and non-profits also offer grants for educators, so be sure to check with any organizations to which you belong.

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Ways for Teachers to Save on Vehicle Maintenance

Ways for Teachers to Save on Vehicle Maintenance

Purchasing a vehicle is a major expense, especially on an educator’s salary. In order to receive the most benefit for money spent on the vehicle, it is imperative to keep it properly maintained. Doing so will extend the life of the vehicle and keep costly repair bills at bay.

Where to Service a Vehicle

If looking at a car engine sends you into the throws of panic, it is best to find a trustworthy auto shop or car dealership for your vehicle’s maintenance needs.

Dealerships tend to be more costly than locally owned auto shops. However, the dealership may have better diagnostic equipment and more parts in stock for specific vehicles. Be sure to compare prices before making a decision.

If choosing the auto shop route, begin by asking others where they service their vehicles; then, look at the internet reviews for those specific shops and find out how long the shops have been in business. After narrowing down the list, see how much each business charges for their services. This research will help in finding a quality shop.

General Maintenance

Certain maintenance is required on every vehicle, such as: changing the oil, replacing the air filter, rotating the tires, and changing the brake pads. Maintaining all of these aspects will extend the life of a vehicle and save money over time.

Generally, the oil and oil filter need to be changed every 3,000 miles. If using synthetic oil, it can be used up to 15,000 miles. Neglecting to properly change the oil will lead to extremely costly repair bills.

Every time a vehicle is serviced, the air filter should be checked. Depending on how much and where one drives, an air filter could go a few months or a few years without being changed. If the car is driven heavily in a city or dirt roads, it will need to be changed more frequently.

With tires, it is important to rotate them approximately every 5,000 miles or roughly every other oil change. Keeping them properly rotated will extend the life of the tires and the money spent to purchase them.

When it comes to brakes, the pads and rotors should be inspected when the mechanic rotates the tires, and he/she should provide an update of their condition. The brake pads will wear over time and it is important to replace them so they do not cause wear on the rotors. If left unchecked, the pads and rotors will both have to be replaced instead of just the pads.

Any other maintenance specific to a vehicle can be found in the owner’s manual or the maintenance manual that comes as a supplement to the owner’s manual. This manual details what maintenance needs to be completed at certain mileage intervals.

Ways to Save

The absolute cheapest option for vehicle maintenance is to learn to do it yourself. Now that so many do-it-yourself videos exist on the internet, this may prove a viable option for some. Teachers are supposed to be “life-long learners”, so maybe it is time to learn how to change oil. If choosing this route, AutoZone has a free “Loan-A-Tool” program where one can place a deposit for a tool, use it, and as long as the tool is returned in 90 days, the customer will receive a full refund. However, if doing it yourself would lead to imminent disaster, there are other avenues to save money.

At auto parts stores, they will generally check/charge a vehicle battery and change wiper blades free of charge. They will also typically discount oil, filters, and brake pads a few times a year. During the sale, purchase them and take them to the dealership or auto shop when it is time for each specified item to be replaced.

For tires, many businesses will offer free lifetime rotations if one buys the tires from their shop.
Also, never be afraid to ask the auto shop or dealership if they offer a teacher discount. Establishments that offer a military or student discount will generally give teachers a discount as well if asked.

As a side note, be sure to keep the service records. When it comes time to sell the vehicle, potential buyers will pay more if there is proof it has been properly maintained.

Final Thoughts

On a teacher’s salary, it may seem easy to justify prolonging vehicle maintenance, especially when nothing appears wrong with the vehicle. However, do not forego upkeep in an effort to save; in the end it will lead to costly repair bills and shorten the life of the vehicle.

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Classroom expenses got you down?

Are Out-of-Pocket Classroom Expenses Dragging You Down? A Helping Hand May Be Just a Click Away

You Get Out of It What You Put Into It

Keeping your body in shape and keeping your personal budget in shape have a couple of things in common. Both are a struggle to stay on top of, and both are a matter of input and output. If you want a lean body, cut back on the food and crank up the exercise. If you want a fat wallet, increase the revenue and decrease the expenses. It’s pretty simple math.

While physical fitness is more a matter of willpower, fiscal fitness is another issue. It’s one thing to say no to the Krispy Kremes in the lounge and say yes to a stop at the gym (in spite of the stack of ungraded papers on the passenger seat), but when times are tight, you can’t just say no to your bills, and simply saying “Yes, please!” to more money doesn’t mean it’s going to show up in your account.

It helps when you don’t have to go it alone. A workout partner in the gym or a friend to question whether you really need a second helping of mashed potatoes can be just what you need to get through a moment of indecision. But when times get tough with your budget, the friend that might be happy to go for a run with you has a habit of running away when you start talking about needing help with your cash flow.

So, if you’re feeling alone in the battle of the bulge in your wallet, maybe the solution lies in finding some new friends. Where am I going to find friends who are going to want to help me with my budget woes, you ask? Trust me, they’re out there; you just haven’t met them yet.

Eager Donor, Meet Worthwhile Cause

Increasing revenue is a tough task for a teacher during the school year. You work long hours outside of the school day – don’t forget the stack of papers you carpool with – and finding outside work that fits your school schedule can be next to impossible. Well, if you can’t increase your revenue, your only other option is to cut your expenses, and getting a little help from “friends” through a crowdfunding source like Donors Choose can be just the boost that you need.

There are many crowdfunding sources available, but Donors Choose is one that is specifically for teachers and one that teachers and students at our school have benefited from numerous times. At Donors Choose, teachers can ask for help to cover the out-of-pocket costs for classroom items that are not covered in the school’s budget – the essential non-essentials, so to speak – that make a significant dent in a teacher’s wallet but are critical to creating a classroom atmosphere that is warm, comfortable, and conducive to learning. In the past few years, funded projects at our school have ranged from classroom sets of books for young adult readers, to comfy furniture for a cozy learning center, to a classroom pet.

Ask and There Is a Good Chance You Will Receive

Donors Choose was created in 2000, and it is a free service for full-time teachers at U.S. public or public charter schools. As of this writing, 276,186 teachers have received funding for 687,627 projects. These projects have benefited 17,579,385 students thanks to the generosity of more than two million donors. The Donors Choose website says that 75% of the proposed projects reach their funding goals.

Once you open an account with Donors Choose, you are able to post a project. To post a project, you will have to answer a few short essay questions and provide details about your project. Once it is funded, the materials are sent to you and all you have to do is provide the thank you cards and the photos of the happy students (and teacher).

A Friend in Need …

In South Carolina, the State Department of Education gives each of our teachers a $250 stipend to cover classroom purchases which is usually gone before the first child steps in the door in August. After that, if it is not included in a line item in the school’s budget, it is coming out of the teacher’s pocket. Fortunately, sites like Donors Choose provide an opportunity for teachers to tap into a network of donors who value public education and are looking for ways to help financially. Who knows, you might catch a break like we South Carolinians did when native son, Stephen Colbert, picked up the tab for over 1000 projects worth more than $800,000 in May of 2015.

Those are the kinds of friends that teachers need.

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Tips for a Buying a Quality Vehicle on an Educator's Salary

Tips for Buying a Quality Vehicle on an Educator’s Salary

According to a 2015 report from Edmunds.com, the price for a used vehicle averages $16,800. This is a considerable amount of money, and generally speaking, living on an educator’s salary does not leave us with mounds of disposable income. Therefore, it is important to save money where we can, and when it comes to car buying, many tend to overpay for a vehicle simply because they are unaware of the various ways to save. Whether one is a seasoned car buyer or a timid first timer, the following tips are helpful for getting a budget friendly, quality vehicle.

Before Buying

Thorough research is imperative when determining the best vehicle to buy. The average price, customer reviews, cost to own, and depreciation rates all need to be heavily researched in order to evaluate vehicle quality and value.

When it comes to pricing, websites such as Edmunds, Auto Trader, Ebay, Kelley Blue Book, and NADA can all be utilized to determine a solid average price for the vehicle. One can also compare vehicles from a dealership’s online inventory to a similar vehicle for sale from an individual to determine which to purchase from.

Customer reviews prove valuable in choosing a make and model. One can learn specific issues with certain model years and see if the problem was corrected in subsequent models. If a vehicle earns mostly negative reviews, knowing this can prevent an individual from buying a “lemon”.

Cost to own and depreciation rates will vary greatly from vehicle to vehicle. For imported vehicles, research part replacement and maintenance; specific parts may have to be ordered from the country of origin, which will add greatly to any repair bill.

One last item to mention, whether one decides to buy from a dealer or an individual, is to always ask for a history and maintenance report on the vehicle. A well-kept, wreck free vehicle will generally be the best value.

Buying from a Dealership

If buying from a dealership, be sure to research them. Many times, a quick internet search will provide satisfactory results. Also, if the dealership sells on Ebay, check their feedback rating.

When it comes to negotiating, be sure to review all of the applicable fees. Generally “doc fees” and “processing fees” are sheer profit. If the sales representative indicates that the fee cannot be waved, ask for a decrease in the vehicle price.

If financing the vehicle, be sure to compare the bank’s rate and the dealer’s rate. Sometimes dealerships upcharge for financing because it gives them more profit. Do not forget to check with a local credit union, or even better, a teacher’s credit union; their rates tend to be cheaper.

If trading in a current vehicle, it is best not to disclose this information to the dealer until a “rock solid” price for the vehicle is given. Dealerships tend to increase the price of the vehicle if they know the customer is trading. As a reminder, when trading in, sales tax will only be charged on the difference between the purchased vehicle and the trade in.

Finally, always be willing to walk away if the price is outside the budget. Sometimes the dealership will call back and accept the price simply to move the inventory, and this is especially true at the end of the month.

Buying from an Individual

Many dealerships have certain criteria for the cars they sell, and generally one will pay more for the same vehicle for that reason. If buying from an individual, the buyer will be responsible for finding out all the vehicle information. The following questions prove crucial in determining the condition of the vehicle:

Does the seller have current maintenance records? If the vehicle has been serviced regularly, the seller should have service records. If nothing else, check to see that the mileage of the vehicle is less than or close to the mileage printed on the “next oil change” sticker.

How many previous owners? How long have they owned it? Why are they selling it? All of these questions help one determine if the car has been maintained properly.

Does the vehicle have a clean and clear title? A clean title means the vehicle has never been salvaged or wrecked. A clear title means no liens exist on the vehicle.

When inspecting the body, look at the ground beneath the vehicle to check for leaking fluid. Also, open all doors, the hood, and the trunk, and look for a sticker that has the VIN number. If any sticker is missing, it has most likely been wrecked. If the seller does not have current vehicle information and appears uneasy at the thorough inspection of the vehicle, it may be best to walk away. As a safety tip, always meet an individual seller in a public place.

The Bottom Line

Being informed in these areas will aide in the buying process and provide more confidence whether buying from a dealership or an individual. As a final tip, it never hurts to ask for an educator discount; you never know what they might say! Even if the “car of your dreams” doesn’t work out, another one will come along. Be patient. In the end, it will be worth the time to buy a quality vehicle for the best possible price.

The author would like to thank Tommy and Robert Bookout for their assistance with the information in this article.

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How to Stop Spending So Much Money on Classroom Supplies

Teachers: Spend Less Of Your Own Money on Classroom Supplies with These 7 Tips

Across the nation, teachers spend more than $1 billion of personal money on classroom supplies each year. From hand sanitizer to keep germs down and kids healthy to crayons that replace the classroom’s initial stock, 80 percent of teachers say that they invest their own money primarily because of school’s limited budgets, which often receive annual cuts. It’s not required of them to do so, but it’s hard to explain to a class full of 10 year olds that there’s no more Kleenex or colored pencils for the rest of the year.

How to Stop Spending So Much?

While school budgets may not be too easy to fix, there are ways to make your dollar stretch when it comes to supplies for the classroom and you may be surprised what kinds of funds are available. If you’re looking to spend less of your own money on classroom supplies, here are some tips to consider.

1) Ask Parents

Many parents don’t realize teachers buy classroom supplies with their own money, or that the initial stock of paper, pencils, crayons, and book may not be replenished by the school system. Parents understand how quickly children go through paper towels and tissues, and many don’t mind helping out, especially once they’re aware of the situation. Send a letter home asking for classroom donations, and list what the classroom needs. To make the donation request more successful, ask parents for items easily purchased at a local store. A busy mom is more likely to pick up a pack of napkins while grocery shopping than she is to make a special stop at the office supply store for pencil sharpeners or white board markers.

2) Crowdfunding

There are all sorts of people out there who want to help others succeed, and education is an issue close to people’s hearts. With online crowdfunding options like AdoptaClassroom.com, you can ask for monetary donations from people who want to help you education our nation’s children. If you’re trying to raise money for a specific event or class trip, consider a crowdfunding site like Go Fund Me, where students and their families can share the link with friends and family on Facebook. If 20 students each ask 10 people to donate $10, it doesn’t take long for money to add up.

3) Shop Sales

If you’re going to spend your own money on school supplies, it makes sense to shop the sales, getting the most you can for each dollar. During back to school shopping, notebooks can be found for under 10 cents a piece, and folders for less than a nickel. Check out your local stores to see if they offer educator discount programs. Many, including Kmart and The Container Store, have teacher specific discounts and rewards, keeping a few more dollars in your wallet. Also pay attention to tax-free shopping days, especially when you’re planning on restocking, and depending on where you live, this could save you up to 10 percent of total purchases.

4) Tax Breaks

If you’re spending your own money on classroom supplies, you may be able to get a tax break on some of the things you purchase. Although it’s not near what most teachers spend, there’s a $250 tax deduction offered annually for classroom supplies. This is an above-the-line deduction, which means it doesn’t have to be itemized, but still lowers the amount of taxable income. As an FYI, professional development expenses can also be included in this deduction.

5) Grants

While it may take some paperwork and time, if you want to find cash for classroom supplies, consider applying for educator grants. With a huge range available for all types of classrooms, you can find one that fits your needs. To see what types of grants and what makes you eligible, check out the US Department of Education database to get a list of open grant competitions. Also check with any national educational organization you belong to, as many offer grants exclusively for members.

6) Recycle & Reuse

Over the years, teachers gather supplies, many of which they no longer need. If there’s a teacher who’s preparing to retire, he or she is most likely looking for a place to donate unneeded supplies. Also consider bartering and trading with other teachers you know, whether in your school district or close by. Sharing supplies helps save money and exposes students to a wider range of books, programs, and educational material without the need for large sums of cash. Programs like Teachers Helping Teachers connect you with teachers across the country who are willing to share, donate, and trade gently used supplies.

7) Think Outside the Box

When it comes to saving money on classroom supplies, teachers need to think outside the box. These are some of our favorite ways to save, what are yours? Share your tips in the comments!

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teacher loan forgiveness programs

Get Rid of your Student Loan Debt Once and for All – 6 Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs

If you are still struggling with student debt, have you looked into teacher loan forgiveness programs?

Here I outline 6 student loan forgiveness programs for teachers.  Please check them out, you may qualify to get some or all of your student loans forgiven!

1) Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

The Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program was initialized in 2007 with the aim of encouraging more people to work in public service, including at schools.  PSLF forgives William D. Ford Direct Loans (including direct PLUS loans, direct consolidation loans, direct subsidized loans, and direct unsubsidized loans).

However, PSLF will not start facilitating the forgiveness of any loans until October 2017.  The reason for this timeline is that a condition of this program is that you must make 120 consecutive payments on your loans.

Please see the PSLF eligibility requirements here. To summarize the conditions for qualifying for this program, you must:

  • Make the aforementioned 120 consecutive (10 years!), of on-time, full payments, starting no earlier than 10/1/2007
  • Work full-time in the Peace Corps, Americorps, or a public service organization (schools qualify!) for the entire time the payments were made

This is definitely a difficult program to qualify for, but if you are still going to be in debt in October 2017 (or when you have otherwise made 120 consecutive payments after that) and meet the above conditions, than this program is well worth looking into.  See the PSLF certification form here.

2) Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness

The goal of the Federal Teacher Loan Forgiveness program is to encourage people to become (and remain) teachers. It is a generous program that allows for up to $17,500 in teacher loan forgiveness.

Here is a summary of the eligibility requirements for this program:

  • Eligible loan types include unsubsidized student loans and direct subsidized loans
  • The loans must have been established after 10/1/98, and at least one of the teaching years must be after the 1997-1998 school year.
  • You cannot be in default
  • You must work for five consecutive, full years as a teacher, at least one of the years at a qualifying school:
  • The qualifying school must be in a Title I qualified district
  • The qualifying school must have more than 30% of students qualified for Title I services
  • The qualifying school must be listed in the government’s directory of qualifying schools.
  • Teachers at a qualifying educational service agency are also eligible

In most cases, teachers are eligible to get $5,000 of their loans forgiven. “Highly qualified” math, science, and special education teachers may be eligible to receive up to the full $17,500 in teacher loan forgiveness.

Download the application for this program here.

3) Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation

With the Federal Perkins Loan Cancellation program you can get up to 100% of your Perkins loans forgiven, including any interest you have accrued! Teachers only have to teach full time for a year to receive benefits:

  • You will get 15% of your loan cancelled after years one and two.
  • For years three and four, you will get 20% more of the loan cancelled each year
  • In the fifth year, you will get the final 30% of your Federal Perkins loan cancelled.

Here’s what qualifies for the Perkins loan cancellation program. You can:

  • Teach in a school that serves students from low-income families (see if your school qualifies as “low-income” here) or;
  • Be a special education teacher (including for infants and toddlers) or;
  • Teach in a field that your state has defined as having a teacher shortage in, such as science, bilingual education, math, foreign language, etc. or;
  • Teach at a private school that is a nonprofit or;
  • Teach part-time at multiple schools, as long as you meet the other requirements or;
  • Teach preschool or pre-K, only if your state classifies them as part of elementary education

To get the application form for this program, contact the office where you went to college that administers the Federal Perkins Loan program.

4) Stafford Loan Forgiveness

The popular Stafford Loan Forgiveness program provides qualified individuals up to $17,500 in teacher loan forgiveness.

However, it is a very difficult program to qualify for. You must:

  • Work full-time for 5 consecutive years at a Title I qualified elementary or secondary school, with 30% of students who qualify for Title I services or at a school listed in the Annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools
  • Not be in loan default
  • Not have taken out any direct loans or FEEL Program Loans before 10/1/98.

One big plus of this program is that teachers can take advantage one of the Federal Student Loan Forbearance programs during those five years. If you are having difficulties making payments, this is a great option and could really help your short-term finances.

See the Stafford Loan Forgiveness Application form here.

5) Federal TEACH Grants

The Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant program provides up to $4,000 per year to qualifying college students who will become teachers.

TEACH Grants are unique in that they are the only type of teacher loan forgiveness provided before debt is accumulated. Other loan forgiveness programs, of course, provide forgiveness after you have taken on student debt.

These grants will provide as much as $4,000 per year to college students who:

  • Intend to teach at a school that serves primarily students from low-income families
  • Are enrolled in a teaching credential providing program
  • Plan to teach full-time for at least 4 years
  • Plan to teach in a “high-need” field

6)  State and City Sponsored Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs

Fortunately, there are also many state and city teacher loan forgiveness programs. Rather than list them here, I will share with you an excellent resource.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) has put together a searchable database of state and city loan forgiveness programs, classroom donation programs, as well as various awards and grants.

In addition, your district school board should be able to point you in the direction of any city or county funded loan forgiveness programs.

Save Money on Your Student Loans and Get $100!

If you cannot get all of your loans forgiven with teacher loan forgiveness programs, please also consider student loan refinancing. One great company that you can reduce the cost of your student loans with is Sofi. Fixed rates start at 3.50% and variable rates start as low as 2.13% APR (with utoPay). Sofi members save an average of $14,000! Apply here and you will receive a $100 bonus when you refinance.

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