Teachers Share Anger, Frustration Over Grants Turned Into Loans

A federal program meant to encourage young teachers has, instead, saddled thousands of them with unexpected debts. "I was in shock," says Mikayla Rhone, a teacher in Nebraska.
Source: LA Johnson

"I thought this just happened to me."

That's the refrain from dozens of teachers who reached out to NPR — via email and social media — in response to our investigative story about serious problems with a federal grant program that, they say, have left them unfairly saddled with thousands of dollars of debts they shouldn't have to pay.

The TEACH grant program offers prospective teachers up to $4,000 a year to help pay for an undergraduate or master's degree; in return, they agree to teach a high-need subject, like math or science, in a lower-income school for four years. The program, which began in 2008, gives teachers eight years to meet the requirement. Each year, they must send in paperwork, proving they're on track. Therein lies the problem.

A government review obtained by NPR shows that thousands of teachers' grants were converted to loans, with interest, because of minor issues with this annual paperwork.

Instead of helping them, many

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