The Corps Member Experience
Joining Teach For America does not mean you will automatically have a teaching job. Corps members are hired full-time employees of their school, district, or charter organization (not Teach For America). You'll have support from staff in your region throughout the hiring process. Your salary and benefits will be the same as other beginning teachers working for the same employer. Learn more about getting hired as a teacher.
Our corps members commit to teaching for at least two years within their placement school and region. We place corps members as full-time, lead teachers in 51 placement regions throughout the country. Because they are employed directly by the schools and districts in which they work, they receive the same financial compensation and benefits as other beginning teachers.
Before and throughout their two-year commitment, our corps members receive continuous support and professional development. Learn more about our various forms of support and training.
Informed and inspired by their students, many alumni choose to teach beyond their two-year commitments. Others shape the context and conditions in which schools operate. Our alumni are school leaders, policymakers, founders of advocacy organizations, social entrepreneurs, and business leaders working to make change. Learn more on Life as an Alum.
Certification & Graduate School
While a background in education isn’t a prerequisite for you to apply to Teach For America, all of our partner regions will require you to complete steps to become highly qualified in the subject(s) you'll teach in the fall.
Most regions also require corps members to work toward full teaching certification during their two-year commitment. Each state has different requirements and rules around teacher certification. Learn more about becoming certified to teach.
While Teach For America has no restrictions about corps members pursuing additional graduate degrees during their two-year commitments, we do encourage you to strongly consider if this would be feasible for you. If you join the corps, you would be teaching full time in addition to attending required certification and/or graduate coursework. Most corps members would not have time to pursue another degree on top of these commitments.
Teach For America is not specifically a certification or graduate education program. However, depending on your region, you may earn your certification after teaching for two years.
In most regions, you will be required to work towards certification while teaching by paying for and completing coursework and exams.
In other regions, you may not be required to become fully certified, but to continue teaching for two years, you will be required to complete and pay for some coursework or to attend professional development programs.
Several of our regions have established partnerships with universities to facilitate your work toward certification and/or master’s degrees. These programs vary from site to site and year to year. Some may be offered at reduced cost.
Learn more about our regions and find information about certification requirements.
Several of our regions have established partnerships with universities to facilitate your work toward a master’s degree during your two-year commitment. These programs vary from site to site and year to year. Some may be offered at reduced cost.
Please keep in mind that because of these programs change frequently, we encourage you to avoid preferencing regions solely based on these partnerships. We ask that you remain flexible as to where you are willing to teach so that we can best meet the needs of students.
Learn more about our regions and find information about master's degree options.
The application and training process for certified teachers is the same for non-certified applicants.
If you’re admitted to the corps and are already certified to teach the subject in the state where you’re assigned, you won’t need to retake any certification exams that you’ve already passed. However, you’ll most likely need to submit a copy of your score reports.
If you're admitted to the corps in one state but are currently certified in another, you also may be exempt from taking additional coursework during your two-year commitment, depending on certification reciprocity between states. Information about certification reciprocity can usually be found on a state’s department of education website.
If you’re assigned to a state where you’re not certified to teach, you can take the certification tests and participate in the coursework, or apply to transfer your license on your own. If you’re already certified in other states, our regional offices will work with you to determine which coursework may still be required. Once admitted, you will want to speak to your regional staff for more information.
Teacher certification costs widely vary across regions, so we recommend that you compare regions to get a better understanding of what expenses to expect. Costs can include fees for required subject tests and licensing, as well as tuition for required coursework. You should expect to pay for some, if not all of your teacher certification expenses.
Some regions may offer discounted tuition rates through their university partner and other financial benefits.
TFA also offers need-based financial aid on a case-by-case basis those with demonstrated financial need help you make it to your first paycheck.
You may also qualify to receive an AmeriCorps award by serving as a corp member, which can be used to cover some of your certification costs.
Teach For America does not pay for your certification or master's degree, however, there are different benefits available to corps members to help pay for the coursework that you must take in order to teach in your region.
Many regions have relationships with local universities that offer reduced tuition for corps members.
In some regions, you can qualify for tuition exemption based on the fact that you’re a teacher.
Teach For America is currently a member of AmeriCorps, the national service network. Through this relationship, our corps members are AmeriCorps members and are eligible to receive forbearance and interest payment on qualified student loans during their two years of service. Additionally, those who have not previously received AmeriCorps awards may receive an education award of around $5,815 at the end of each year of service. This may be used towards future educational expenses, such as certification or master’s degree courses, or to repay qualified student loans. Please note this award is not guaranteed.
In some regions, you must pay for classes up front.
Compare regions to find information about certification costs.
Your ability to do this will depend on the region. Even if it is permitted in your region, generally corps members do not choose to complete certification at a non-partnering program. If you choose a separate program you would need to apply to the program on your own and independently track that you are meeting alternative certification legal requirements.
Training & Support
Depending on your regional assignment, you may attend a national institute or a regional institute.
National institutes are held throughout the country and tend to be larger in size because they combine corps members from several nearby regions.
Regional institutes typically take place in the same region where you are assigned to teach in the fall.
Summer training typically includes a 6-8 week continuous commitment over the summer. Learn more on Summer Training Schedules.
We can arrange family housing for you if you choose to bring family to the training, although Teach For America does not provide child care. If you require either lodging or food services for a family member, you’ll be able to indicate this on an online form sent after you’re admitted to the corps. Please be aware that any costs incurred for the lodging of family member(s) would be at your expense.
Corps members with families have shared a variety of experiences related to balancing the institute workload and family life. We encourage corps members with families to work with their regions to connect with current corps members or alumni with similar family circumstances to ensure they are considering all of their options. This may include bringing a caregiver to training, arranging periodic visits with family throughout the summer, or securing off-campus housing.
Corps members should bear in mind that most of our housing partners have policies about minors and guests who are on campus unattended during the day. You will be asked to identify whether you'd like more information about bringing dependents to training during the spring.
If you have additional questions about Teach For America not addressed above, please contact us with inquiries.
The cost of housing and all meals is covered during training, but you do not receive paychecks during training.
Given the intense pace and long hours during training, in most regions corps members are expected to live on-site throughout the experience, although corps members are welcome to leave the training site at their own discretion on the weekends. Corps members can choose to bring family members with them to training, though Teach For America can only cover costs for corps member housing. Corps members with special circumstances, such as dependent caretakers, may be able to able to live off-site and would work with their region to determine the best option for them.
Please also keep in mind that corps members must attend the institute to which their region is assigned. Some regions conduct their own individual training that takes place within their region, while other regions attend a larger, national institute with multiple regions. It is important for corps members to attend their assigned institute because attendance dates are based on school calendars and corps members typically attend region-specific events that foster critical relationships with other corps members and staff during this time.
We know there are some applicants who have a highly urgent personal circumstance or need to teach in a region which corresponds to a training that poses a conflict. In these cases, we recommend applicants still apply and share this information when they complete their Assignment Preference Form. We review these conflicts on a case-by-case basis and, in exceptionally rare cases, may approve a corps member request to attend a training that does not correspond with his or her assigned region.
Teach For America is committed to providing ongoing support for corps members throughout their two-year commitment. All corps members begin their commitment by completing our intensive summer training. Once in their classrooms, corps members continue to receive ongoing support and development through coaching and certification coursework. Additionally, corps members are able to connect virtually with one another across the country sharing unit plans, lesson plans, worksheets, and other resources.
That being said, changing the educational trajectory of your students will be incredibly challenging, and like all new teachers, you’ll have a lot to learn before, during, and following your initial training. We have developed a network of resources and support systems that are designed to help you climb the learning curve as quickly as possible. Our program, however, will not provide you with every single tool you need to be successful. Each community, school, and classroom is unique, and we rely on your leadership skills and drive for constant improvement to seek out any additional tools you may need to develop for your students.
Summer training typically includes a 6-8 week continuous commitment over the summer, beginning sometime between late May and mid-June, depending on your regional assignment. For most corps members, training includes multiple events that take place over the course of the summer, and through the weeks leading up to the time that the school year begins.
Learn more about what to expect during summer training.
Teach For America helps corps members become strong classroom and community leaders, through a rigorous summer training program and extensive coaching, professional development, and other resources throughout the corps experience. Learn more about corps member training.
While there is no guarantee that any corps member will receive an AmeriCorps education award, the funding is only granted to U.S. citizens, nationals, or permanent residents. DACA recipients are not eligible to receive AmeriCorps benefits.
For the 2016 corps year, ultimately all corps members were able to receive the AmeriCorps education award despite reduced Congressional appropriations for AmeriCorps, and we were also able to grant the equivalent of the AmeriCorps education award to all DACA recipients.
Teach For America will attempt to provide DACA eligible corps members with the same opportunities for an education award as all other corps members. However, as a nonprofit with limited resources, at this time we cannot guarantee these opportunities will be available to any corps member (whether or not they are part of DACA).
Not all of our regions can currently place DACA recipients because of hiring and certification requirements. If you are invited to attend a final interview, the Admissions Team will reach out to you with specific instructions on how to complete your Assignment Preference Form.
While we do our best to place corps members in one of their highly preferred regions, we cannot guarantee it. We encourage you to be flexible when selecting your regional preferences.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was established by President Obama via executive action in June 2012 to provide temporary relief from deportation and two-year work permits to qualified young adults who were brought to the United States as children. DACA unlocked countless economic opportunities for roughly 800,000 young people, 700,000 of whom are in the workforce and pay income taxes. In addition to providing work permits, DACA allows young immigrants to obtain driver's licenses, get health insurance, open bank accounts, pay taxes, enroll in college, take out mortgages and car loans, and provide for their families.
You will be able to apply for need-based transitional grants and loans at two points:
After you receive an invitation to a final interview.
After being admitted to the corps.
The Corps Member Finances team will be able to help you apply for funding.
Salary, Benefits & Aid
No. Corps members are employed directly by the schools and districts in which they are hired.
Because corps members are paid directly by the schools and districts for whom they work their benefits are determined by the school and can vary. In general, corps members can expect to receive the same benefits as other teachers within the school.
Teach For America offers need-based transitional grants and no-interest loans to help corps members make it to their first paychecks. Packages are based on an applicant's demonstrated need and the cost of living in the assigned region.
Funding is awarded at the beginning of summer training and may be used as reimbursement for travel costs to summer training and regional orientations. Applicants can also use their need-based transitional funding to pay for personal and moving expenses (e.g., deposits on apartments) and necessary coursework, testing, and district-processing fees. Teach For America covers most major expenses during summer training, including room and board, which is also covered for one to two weeks during regional orientation.
Teach For America doesn’t specifically offer loan cancellation or forgiveness to corps members. As a nonprofit organization with limited funds, we simply don’t have the resources to forgive the student loans of all of our corps members. However, some school districts and programs offer loan cancellation to teachers who serve a number of years in a school district.
Teach For America is also a member of AmeriCorps, the national service network. Through this relationship, our corps members are AmeriCorps members and are eligible to receive forbearance and interest payment on qualified student loans during their two years of service. Additionally, those who have not previously received AmeriCorps awards may receive an education award of around $5,815 at the end of each year of service, which may be used towards future educational expenses or to repay qualified student loans. However, given the uncertainty around AmeriCorps funding and the nature of the AmeriCorps competitive grant process, we cannot guarantee these benefits to all corps members.
Learn more about loan forgiveness programs available to corps members.
Corps members are full-time, salaried employee of their school district, charter school, or pre-K center. Their salary and benefits are the same as those of other beginning teachers working for the same employers. These vary by school and region, based on cost of living, regional education budgets, and many other factors.
Compare regions to learn more about salaries and cost of living.
Teach For America is currently a member of AmeriCorps, the national service network. Through this relationship, our corps members are AmeriCorps members and are eligible to receive forbearance and interest payment on qualified student loans during their two years of service. Additionally, those who have not previously received AmeriCorps awards may receive an education award of $5,350 at the end of each year of service, which can be used towards future educational expenses or to repay qualified student loans. As AmeriCorps members, corps members also join a national network of other service programs and have opportunities to meet others in the network and to participate in AmeriCorps events in their regions.
Given the nature of the AmeriCorps competitive grant process and the dependence on Congressional funding cycles, we cannot guarantee these benefits for corps members serving during the 2019 - 2020 school year until receiving final confirmation in June 2019. Recent changes in national service laws may result in an adjustment to the education award. Per regulations, the AmeriCorps education award and interest accrual payments are considered to be taxable income for the year in which they are used.
Learn more about AmeriCorps.
Most corps members receive their first paycheck between late August and late September depending on regional assignment. In an effort to ensure that qualified candidates from all economic situations are able to join the corps, we offer a few financial aid options to help you make it to your first paycheck.
Funding is awarded at the beginning of training. It can be used for:
- Reimbursement for travel costs to training including regional orientation
- Personal and moving expenses (e.g., deposits on apartments)
- Necessary coursework, testing, and district-processing fees
What & Where You'll Teach
It’s very difficult to predict in advance what you will be qualified to teach in a given region. Your ability to teach a certain subject or grade level is partly dependent on the specific guidelines of a state, school district, and university partner. Unfortunately, these requirements are quite complex and change often, so we do not have a requirements list available for applicants.
Even if you qualify to teach a particular subject or grade level in a particular region, those factors do not solely determine your assignment. In determining your subject/grade-level assignment, we also consider your preferences and each region’s grade-level and subject needs.
Learn more about how we place corps members.
You will have the opportunity to research and select your preferred regions after you've completed your interview. Depending on your application timeline, you'll receive your regional and subject assignment about two weeks after submitting your preferences. At this time time you'll be able to confirm your offer.
If you are invited to attend an interview, you will submit your Classroom & Regional Preferences, where you can list any personal circumstances you would like us to consider when determining your assignment, such as a spouse or significant other.
We encourage you and your partner to submit identical Classroom & Regional Preferences and indicate your desire to be placed together. We will do our best to place you in the same region, but cannot guarantee that you will work in the same district or school.
You will have the opportunity to research and select your preferred regions after you've completed your interview.
During your research you should consider the factors most important to you in a region, compare cost of living, master's degree options, etc., and eventually build a strong list of regions that are a great fit for you.
We do our best to place corps members in regions, subjects, and grade levels where are they are excited to teach—we call these highly preferred regions.
The likelihood of being assigned any one of your highly preferred regions depends on several factors, such as matching the requirements for eligibility in the region (GPA, coursework, etc.), being available when the region has their summer training, and the number of placements available.
Teach For America rarely changes an applicant's regional assignment, however, we have reassigned applicants with special circumstances that could not have been anticipated when completing their Classroom & Regional Preferences. For example, an accepted applicant who finds he has an irresolvable conflict with his assigned region's summer training schedule will be reassigned to another region where he is able to attend summer training.
Your preferences have no bearing on admissions. We encourage you to keep an open mind when deciding your preferences for grade levels, subjects, and regions. Your flexibility helps us place you where you can have the most impact.
Yes, (with limited exceptions) our corps members must pass at least one certification test to be eligible to teach. If you are admitted to the corps, your region will work with you on test preparation. Corps members who don't pass the exam may need to repeat the test in time for the start of the school year.