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The Biden administration announced a plan to expand tuition breaks for future teachers and remove GPA requirements for grant recipients in hopes of providing access to “students of color.”
The Department of Education oversees the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant program, which provides tuition breaks for students obtaining degrees in education who commit to teaching in “high-need fields and underserved schools” for four years after graduation. The Biden administration, with the support of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, announced that the annual grant amount for third and fourth-year students will double to $8,000 per recipient.
Biden’s plan will also remove the existing GPA requirements for recipients in the hopes of increasing access for students of color.
“The proposed plan also aims to increase the access that students from low-income backgrounds and students of color have to comprehensive teacher preparation,” a press release from the Education Department reads.
The plan includes an additional $2.8 billion investment in programs such as “year-long, paid teacher residency programs,” which the Biden administration claims will help enroll more “teacher candidates of color” and will have a greater impact on teacher retention.
The administration claims that the requirement changes are “expected to increase the number of recipients by more than 50 percent to nearly 40,000 in 2022.”
Alongside tuition breaks, the Biden administration’s plan will put $400 million towards “teacher preparation” at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities. The administration’s plan will continue to subsidize HBCUs despite their graduate’s poor loan repayment rate.
Per the Wall Street Journal, federal data found that black students who attend HBCUs were more likely to default on student loans than black students who attend other public or nonprofit colleges. The Daily Caller News Foundation reported that most graduates of black colleges owed more in student loans 12 years after college than they did following graduation, despite the perception that receiving a bachelor’s degree decreases a graduate’s debt load.
Zakiya Smith Ellis, a higher-education adviser to former President Barack Obama, called the discovery “the most shocking data of my career … We like to think of bachelor degrees as the Holy Grail.”
Biden’s plan also aims to “reduce the repayment burden” for TEACH grant recipients who do not complete their requirements.
Before the Biden administration, if grant recipients did not complete the mandated four years of coursework and four years of serving needy communities, their grants were converted into unsubsidized loans that recipients had to repay in full. Educators were given 120 days to certify that they were teaching at an underserved school following graduation.
Under the Biden administration, there is no requirement for recipients to certify their intent to teach within 120 days of graduation and those grants will not be converted into loans.
The new plan will also open a “reconsideration process” for any former TEACH grant recipients whose grants were converted to loans.