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See how Teach For America aims to make teaching a financially sustainable career

5 Ways TFA Fosters Financially Sustainable Career Paths

See how Teach For America works to aid your financial stability before, during, and after the corps

January 22, 2024

Alexzandria Cormier-Hill

Alexzandria Cormier-Hill

At Teach For America, we understand that while shared values drive you to join our mission-driven community, money matters, too. That’s why we tirelessly provide corps members and alumni with resources to aid smart money decisions, address immediate needs and contribute to long-term financial wellness inside and outside the classroom.

In 2023, over 65 percent of our corps members came from underserved communities, many of whom wanted help understanding how to properly care for and grow their finances. 

To address these needs, we identified unique ways to ease the financial load while joining the corps. By putting these five systems in place, we were able to create space for our coalition of change agents like you to deepen their focus on making a positive impact in the communities they care about.

1. Address Critical Financial Needs

Financial priorities such as moving costs, living expenses, test and teaching certification fees, and money for housing are top of mind for applicants when considering Teach For America.

To ensure a smooth transition for them, we've raised over $16 million to offer financial assistance to incoming corps members.

We provide a stipend to all corps members to cover the cost of two months’ rent and certification tests. The stipends range from $3,000-$6,500, depending on the average cost of rent and certification tests in each community where we operate. This stipend is just the baseline transitional assistance, as many more corps members qualify for additional financial support we offer.

By addressing these critical financial areas, we hope to support incoming corps members with finances and keep the focus on helping every student shine.

To paint a better picture, watch this brief overview about Teach For America corps member finances and what you can expect regarding salaries, available stipends, awards and more. 

How Much Will You Earn as a TFA Corps Member?

Here's a quick breakdown of a typical TFA Corps Members' finances and how Teach For America can assist with varying costs.

2. Prioritize Inclusivity & Accessibility

At TFA, we embrace a vibrant mix of identities. That’s why making sure our teachers reflect the diverse identities of the communities we serve is crucial. In 2023 alone: 

  • Nearly 60 percent of 2023 corps members identify as Black, Indigenous or people of color
  • 25 percent  identify as LGBTQ+ 
  • 64 percent come from low-income backgrounds

Studies have shown that all students, regardless of race or ethnicity, benefit socially, emotionally, and academically from a diverse teacher workforce. Despite these insights, 40 percent of the nation’s public schools do not have a single teacher of color. Student loan disparities and familial wealth disparities can often contribute to inequitable financial hurdles that deter professionals of color from entering the education field. 

To address those disparities, we offer:

  • An additional $3000 stipend for Pell Grant recipients or qualifying EAD holders to support those with the most financial needs.  
  • We also offer access to additional need-based grants and loans. Applying for further need-based financial support can help incoming corps members cover additional costs, beyond the stipend(s) they received, associated with transitioning to the corps.  

By exploring more ways to support our diverse network, we aim to change the classroom dynamic to mirror our multifaceted student body and communities. 

3. Tailor Information For Your Corps Placement Decision

Moving for a new job can be daunting, especially when the costs to transition varies from region to region. We provide applicants and incoming corps members with the information needed to make the right choice for them. 

When applying for TFA, corps members can choose the regions they want an offer from, given they meet the teaching qualifications. To assist applicants in deciding where they'd like to join the corps, we created an interactive map that provides valuable information about our various locations.

This user-friendly tool provides a useful snapshot of salary ranges, rent averages, teacher certification costs, available financial aid, location-specific transitional support stipends, and other significant information regarding the cost to transition to each region.

By providing this information upfront, we hope to assist corps members to confidently become acquainted with our regions before and after they join the corps.

4. Factor in Student Loans & Other Education Endeavors

Minimizing student loan debt may be top of mind for you. You’re not alone. The U.S. Department of Education has four loan forgiveness programs for teachers, which corps members and alumni can take advantage of. 

You may be eligible to stop making payments or reduce your monthly payments on qualified student loans during your two years of service teaching in the TFA corps. Additionally, corps members who enroll in Americorps concurrently, who have not already received a Segal AmeriCorps Education award, may be eligible to receive an education award of about $7,000 per year, available at the end of each year of service. It can be used to pay for certification expenses, repay qualified student loans, or may be applied to future educational expenses.

Participating in these programs, in combination with other TFA financial supports, can offer corps members and alumni financial relief, as they continue to invest in themselves and others.

5. Provide Simple Money Management Help

We partner with finance experts to support corps members and alumni in understanding how to make the most of their money.

Charles Schwab Foundation

We've teamed up with Charles Schwab and its founder to provide personal finance education to Teach For America’s teachers. We know that financial terminology can be daunting, especially when entering the workforce out of college. Schwab and TFA aim to educate new corps members with information about saving and spending, investing, credit and debt, and risk management, to give them tangible ways to manage their money with confidence.

Plynk 

To create practical pathways to help corps members invest in themselves as much as they invest in their students, we partnered with Plynk, an investment platform for beginners. Plynk gives our corps members access to uncomplicated investing tools and easy-to-understand advice that sounds like your money-savvy bestie rather than a doctoral dissertation. With each gradual step, Plynk helps corps members make small but mighty investing decisions.  

With these financial supports and tools, we hope to alleviate financial burdens for incoming corps members and make space to focus on what’s important: students and teacher wellbeing.

Invest in yourself and future generations.