How to Get Your Graduate Degree and Not Go Broke in the Process
It’s a pretty well known fact that most teachers do not go into the education field for the amazing salary it provides. Even though the pay is nothing to scoff at, you won’t strike it rich financially in this field. The emotional rewards are enough for many of those with the passion for helping shape the children of our future.
But, you still need to make a living, and if you are trying to further your education, you have to be able to afford it. Many teachers looking to extend their education beyond their bachelor’s degree feel that they are inhibited by the cost of higher education versus the average annual salary they receive.
Luckily, if you know where to look, you can get many graduate school scholarships for master’s in education programs. So you don’t have to make “I can’t afford it” a reason that you can’t keep improving your life through enhancing your education.
Types of graduate scholarships for teachers
The need for qualified teachers is immense and not going away anytime soon. Because of this need and the understanding that financing a further education can often be a hardship for many, there are many different scholarships available.
Scholarships are obtainable for master of arts in teaching programs such as a master’s in education or a master’s in special education. Whichever field you are interested in expanding your career in, there is likely a way to help you afford it, and people along the way ready to help you.
Many scholarships are criterion-based, meaning the person or group giving it away is looking for something specific that is important to them or what their company represents. Sometimes those specific requirements are focused on a small population of people of whom you may be one of the only applicants to qualify for them. Other scholarships are broader, and you may be one of many, but your application may stand out from the crowd and you may end up being awarded it over the thousands of other applicants.
Whichever scholarships you plan on applying for, be careful to read the fine print. There is usually a deadline for the application, so plan ahead. Make sure you meet each requirement, whether it is a gender, race or religious one, a certain state you must be from, or a specific GPA or subject you must be mastering. If you qualify for a scholarship for a master’s in teaching, apply for it!
Some scholarships for master’s in education programs are subject specific, like the Elementary Mathematics Specialist Scholarship, which provides $1,000 annually for teachers who are looking to further their education in elementary math. To receive this financial assistance, one must simply have a valid state certification, three years of teaching experience (full-time), and enroll (and stay in good standing) at an accredited university in the United States. Most teachers have the basic requirements, but not all are interested in focusing on elementary math. However, you can find subject-specific scholarships in just about any subject you are looking at pursuing.
Others are more specific and only a handful of applicants may qualify for them, such as the Florence Margaret Harvey Memorial Scholarship. To qualify for this scholarship, you must be working towards earning a master’s degree in the education and rehabilitation of people who are blind or visually impaired and have proof that you are also legally blind.
Many scholarships for graduate students in education fall between those two extremes; however, and fit a broad base of students, like the Isabel M. Herson Scholarship in Education. Although it is sponsored by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, it is open to any “graduate students enrolled in a master’s degree program for elementary or secondary education. Application packets must include three letters of recommendation, official collegiate transcripts, proof of enrollment, W2 forms, community service records, and a 150-word statement about students’ teaching aspirations.” It’s a little broader of a scholarship, but if you fit the criteria they are looking for as far as needing financial assistance and being a dedicated, passionate teacher, you have an excellent chance of qualifying, so why not try?
Keep in mind, you are not limited on your scholarship applications. Those who are willing to put the time and effort into answering their questions or writing their personal statements are almost always glad they did. If you qualify for one, apply for one, but if you qualify for twenty, apply for all twenty. You may be surprised which ones you are awarded!
How to find teacher graduate scholarships in your area
You can find many graduate school scholarships for teachers that are specific to your hometown city or state. If you have a potential school in mind, you may even find scholarships that they give out or that are geared towards that specific school. Other types of scholarships are put on by organizations or are corporate sponsored. These scholarships are out there; you just have to know where to look.
A great source for state-based scholarships for a master of arts in teaching is simply scholarships.com. Here you can search for your state specifically and narrow down the available scholarships until you find one that matches your individual situation.
For instance, if you live in Florida and meet some pretty general requirements, you can qualify for the Bright Future Scholarship, which renews each year if you meet a certain GPA and continue to qualify. To be eligible, you must be a Florida resident and a U.S. citizen and complete the application within two years after your high school graduation with no felonies on your record. This scholarship is excellent because it rolls over yearly as long as you are going to school.
Another avenue to explore would be to check with your local city Chamber of Commerce or affiliates for specific scholarships available to you there as well. Often, residents of a town or city will provide scholarships to other locals, or local governments will provide opportunities for continuing education for their residents in the hopes that they will continue to work towards improving the community. There may be a stipulation attached, such as you have to work within a certain mile radius for a specified amount of time or put in volunteer hours, but this is not always the case.
U.S. News gives a bit of guidance on “Finding Scholarships in Your Own Backyard.” They suggest you check your guidance office at your local high schools or college, or you can contact state or local agencies to find scholarships intended for local residents. Or you can simply try the old-fashioned way: pick up your phone and call them. With today’s world of text and email predominance, a phone call often stands out from the crowd. This is a great way to find scholarships that are specific to schools as well, as the guidance office or financial aid department at your school of choice can be a treasure trove of overlooked scholarships that are accepted at their university.
Teaching scholarships provided from larger companies
In that same vein, there are many associations or not-for-profit organizations that provide graduate scholarships for teachers whether looking to teach kindergarten or high school. For example, the Partnership for Public Service Fellowship works with the federal government to provide a $1,000/month stipend for teachers to obtain their graduate degrees, and it also gives them the chance to work in Washington, D.C. in the public services departments while they are going to school.
Because teachers are recognized as one of the main building blocks to the future, many corporations sponsor scholarships particularly for continuing education in the field of education. Fortune 500 even works with collegescholarship.org to provide a list of available college scholarships of which many apply to future teachers and those looking for scholarships for a Master’s in Education.
According to the article, large companies understand that in order for them to have well-educated employees in the future, they have to be able to have access to education in the present. When they sponsor scholarships, they are helping to guide potential employees in the field where they will need help, so it is a win-win for all who are involved.
Through this site, you can browse scholarships by company sponsoring, subject, state, or degree level, to name a few. There are also extensive resources available to guide you in what you need to know to apply, from writing your essay to writing the thank you letters after you have sent in your applications.
Obtaining your Master's in Teaching is in your reach!
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that teaching occupations between preschool to high school in 2014 totaled about 3.6 million positions, and that number is rising.
The world has noticed the importance of teachers in everyday life and for the future. It is also highly understood that teachers are underpaid and that higher education is expensive. That makes teachers the target of many, many people and companies who want to help.
Continuing your own education on to a master's degree, even if you may be looking into educational leadership, to further your career is possible, even with the financial implications it entails. Search around the internet, stop in to the places we have mentioned, or pick up the phone, and you may just find that your scholarship for graduate students in education is waiting for you.
Works Cited: Elementary Mathematics Specialist Scholarship Program. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2018 from https://amte.net/about/ems
AFB 2018 Scholarship Application. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2018 from https://www.afb.org/info/afb-2018-scholarship-application/5
Isabel M. Herson Scholarship in Education. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2018 from http://www.zpbnef1975.org/scholarships--descriptions.html
Bright Future Scholarship (June 6, 2018). Retrieved February 15, 2018 from https://www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/college-scholarships/scholarships-by-state/florida-scholarships/florida-bright-futures-scholarship-program/
Scholarships by State. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2018 from https://www.scholarships.com/financial-aid/college-scholarships/scholarships-by-state/
Finding Scholarships in Your Own Backyard. (January 27, 2011). Retrieved February 15, 2018 from https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/the-scholarship-coach/2011/01/27/find-scholarships-in-your-own-backyard
Public Service Internship Program. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2018 from https://ourpublicservice.org/about-us/internship-program.php
Company Provided Scholarships. (n.d.) Retrieved February 15, 2018 from http://www.collegescholarships.org/fortune500.htm
Teaching for a Living. (June 2016). Retrieved February 15, 2018 from https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2016/article/education-jobs-teaching-for-a-living.htm