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Finances

5 Things to Know About TFA Transitional Grants and Loans

From moving costs to test fees, learn how our transitional grants and loans can ease your financial transition into Teach For America.

Teach For America corps member stands outside her school

By The TFA Editorial Team

May 23, 2019

Paying for teacher certification exams and attending a full-time summer training institute—on top of the cost of moving to your region—can be a challenge for anyone. To help you transition into your life as a TFA corps member, we offer needs-based grants and interest-free loans to a number of incoming corps members.

All corps member applicants who have a financial need are encouraged to apply to TFA’s financial assistance programs. Even if you did not qualify for financial aid in college or you’re several years out of school, you may be eligible for one of our grants or interest-free loans. Applications are generally accepted from late September to early May.

Here are five important facts about TFA’s transitional grants and interest-free loans.

1. APPLYING TAKES 30 MINUTES

The application for transitional grants and loans is electronic and takes only about 30 minutes to complete.

To complete the application, you’ll need:
-Your savings, checking, and/or credit card statements
-Information about federal and private loans in your name, including education loans
-Recent federal tax returns

If you’re still in college, you’ll also need:
-Total amount of scholarships received to finance your education
-Total personal non-loan contributions to your education
-Total parent/guardian non-loan contributions to your education

The short application asks about your personal assets and liabilities, your educational cost history, and moving information. You’re also given the opportunity to elaborate on any additional financial situations you may have.

2. APPLICATION TIMING IS IMPORTANT

You can apply for transitional grants and loans as soon as you find out that you’ve been invited for a corps member interview. The full timeline, with details on when you should expect to hear back and when you need to accept your offer, is available in the Applicant Center.

We have rolling deadlines throughout the year, depending on when you applied to the corps. Earlier deadlines are designed for those who would like to know their award package before they accept their offer to join the corps.

Applying early also improves your chances of receiving funding, since late applicants run the risk of receiving less funding. So, we encourage everyone to apply as early as possible.

3. GRANTS AND LOANS COVER MANY COSTS, BUT NOT ALL COSTS

Grants and loans cover many different costs associated with beginning your role at TFA.

The most common expenses they help cover are:
-Traveling to summer training
-Moving expenses for the corps
-Testing fees for your state teaching certification

However, TFA grants and loans are not intended to finance your whole transition in the corps. You should expect to secure additional funding to support your move, your time away from work for summer training, and the other steps needed to transition into TFA.

Transitional grants and loans are also not intended to aid in the repayment of existing debts or loans, nor are they intended provide ongoing support to you while you serve as a corps member. Since you will be a full-time, salaried teacher while serving in the corps, TFA transitional grants and loans are only intended to cover some expenses before receiving your regular paychecks.

4. YOUR AWARD AMOUNT IS BASED ON SEVERAL FINANCIAL FACTORS

Transitional grant and loan amounts vary significantly based on your demonstrated need, the amount of money it will cost to transition into your assign region, and the cost of living in the region where you are moving.

Your demonstrated need is determined from the materials you submit with your application, including your federal tax information, your personal checking and savings statements, your current private and federal loan situation, and your scholarship information (if you’re still in school).

Unlike a traditional loan, the more liabilities you have, such as credit card or medical debt, and the fewer assets—such as your current income or checking/savings account balance—the larger your award package is likely to be.

When you find out your award amount, you’re allowed to accept or reject whichever portion of the award you want. For instance, you can agree to receive your grant, but forgo the loan offer.

TFA only offers interest-free loans—our lender does not charge interest. However, if you’re granted a no-interest TFA loan, you are expected to pay it back in the agreed upon timeframe. Late or delinquent payments to the loan may negatively impact your credit score. Typically, repayment for loans starts after winter break of your first year in the classroom. More information about this, and your payment schedule, will be provided by TFA.

5. YOU’LL RECEIVE YOUR AWARD AT THE START OF SUMMER INSTITUTE

Grants and loans are dispersed within 5-10 days of the start of your summer institute. In order to guarantee this dispersal, you will need to sign a promissory note before starting institute. The timeline and necessary materials will be available on your TFA Account Center, and you can expect to receive email reminders as the time approaches.

Please note that corps members are not paid for their time at summer institute, although food and housing expenses are covered—either directly or through a stipend.

Most corps members will receive their first official teaching paycheck a few weeks into the start of the school year. For most, this will mean sometime between late August and late September. If you’re looking for additional ways to help fund the time before your first paycheck, we encourage you to check out our regional-specific benefits, which include signing bonuses and other forms of funding in some of the 51 regions where TFA corps members work.

For additional information about TFA transitional grants and loans, log in to your the Applicant Center and click on “Transitional Grants and Loans” at the bottom of the page. You’ll find specific deadline information, the necessary forms, and details on how to submit your paperwork.