INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana needs more teachers, and the state is willing to help students get the vacant jobs.
Millions of dollars in free scholarship money is up for grabs for students who want to teach for five years after they earn a degree. Students can get scholarships up to $30,000.
“I think it’s pretty cool that the money’s just there, up for grabs,” said Elliot Madere, an 18-year-old sophomore at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis. “It’s free money.”
“I like that. I mean, we need teachers around here,” said Josh Rhodes, also an 18-year-old IUPUI sophomore. “We need people that can teach the younger generation on what we need to be doing.”
The Next Generation Hoosier Education scholarship will provide up to $7,500 per year of college for four academic years. Among the qualification requirements, students have to either graduate in the top 20% of their high school class or earn a top 20th percentile SAT or ACT score.
The scholarship has already helped more than 40 Hoosiers become licensed teachers.
“It’s a great way to talk about the importance of quality educators, talk about inspirational teachers,” said Teresa Lubbers, the commissioner of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. “Once again, we’re hoping we can see greater diversity in the applicants that come through this program.”
“We especially need people in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas,” Lubbers said. “We need diverse teachers. We need teachers in rural areas where they have a hard time filling those positions as well. It’s an attempt to look at some of those shortage areas and hope that people will fill those shortage areas.”
Priority is be given to students graduating from high school although college freshmen and sophomore students are eligible to apply. Once in college, recipients have to keep a 3.0 GPA and take at least 30 credit hours per year.
Scholarship recipients must agree to teach in Indiana for five years after they earn their degrees. If a student takes the money and does not adhere to that five-year agreement, a commission spokesperson said, the student would have to pay back the scholarship funds minus a percentage for each year they were teaching in Indiana.
“The state is paying for those students, and they want to have those students in Indiana classrooms,” Lubbers said. “If someone chooses to go someplace else, we understand that, but this is a commitment the state is making to Indiana schools and students.”
The deadline to apply for the next set of scholarships is Nov. 30.
Here is the complete list of qualification requirements:
- Must be an Indiana resident.
- Must be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen.
- Must be a current high school senior or college student in Indiana.
- Must have graduated or plan to graduate from an Indiana accredited high school or nonaccredited nonpublic high school.
- Must use the scholarship for at least two full academic years.
- Must rank in the top 20% of high school graduating class or have a top 20% ACT or SAT score.
- Must attend or plan to attend an eligible Indiana institution as a full-time student. In some cases, degree-seeking students may use the scholarship during the summer while enrolled part-time.
- Must pursue or intend to pursue a course of study that would enable the student to teach at eligible Indiana school after college graduation.
- Must obtain a license to teach in Indiana and serve as a teacher in an eligible Indiana school for five consecutive years after college graduation.
- Must maintain a 3.0 GPA, complete 30 credit hours per year or their equivalent and meet all other requirements established by their program to renew the scholarship.
- Must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year.
- Must not be in overpayment or default on a federal student loan or grant.
- Must complete the service requirement or have all funds provided converted to a loan that must be repaid.