Since their creation in 2007, TEACH Grants have provided $4,000 per academic year to more than 112,000 college students studying to become highly-qualified teachers in high-need fields within low-income K-12 schools.
In April 2018 College Affordability Solutions warned that TEACH Grants were a bad deal because:
• The U.S. Education Department (ED) converts them into Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans if recipients fail to complete four years of the teaching as described above within eight years of leaving college; and
• ED and its contractors inflicted the same heavy-handed punishment on recipients who allegedly failed to comply exactly with what Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer protection group, subsequently described as ED’s overly-complicated, even unlawful TEACH Grant regulations.
The result is that 63% of TEACH Grant recipients who began teaching before July 2014 saw their grants transformed to Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans before June 2016. This turned their $4,000 grants into debts exceeding $9,000.
If you were caught up in this fiasco, you can now have your case reviewed. Here are three way to get this started:
1. If you received a February 2019 email from “firstname.lastname@example.org” about this, follow its directions;
2. Call (855) 499-9543 between 8:00 am and 9:00 pm eastern time Monday through Friday to ask FedLoan, ED’s current TEACH Grant contractor, to initiate a review; or
3. Email “TEACHgrantconversions@myfedloans.org” to request a review.
FedLoan will audit your account, plus other information it may need from you. No matter what, it’ll let you know the result. For example, ED says that if you have, or still can, complete four years of required teaching within eight years of leaving college, your loan could converted into a grant.
But be careful! National Public Radio reports indicate that ED and it’s contractors have mismanaged the TEACH Grant program for years. Although ED’s now pledged to do better, but whenever you deal with ED or FedLoans, be sure to keep:
• A copy of every email, form, or letter you send or receive; and always get a delivery confirmation on anything you send; and
• Notes on every conversation you have with them — who you spoke with, on what date, at what time, the exactly what was said?
In short, act like you’ll someday need to take ED and its contractors to court to get what’s rightfully yours under TEACH Grant law and regulations. Hopefully you’ll never have to do this, but better safe than sorry!
Contact College Affordability Solutions for a free consultation if you need help understanding your rights and responsibilities as a financial aid recipient.