New scholarship offers tuition money for future teachers

New scholarship offers tuition money for future teachers. (WISH Photo/Jessica Smith)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana students have until the end of the year to apply for a new scholarship aimed at attracting future teachers. Earlier this year, the state created the Next Generation Teacher Scholarship in response to the teacher shortage many districts are experiencing.

“This is an initial step by the legislature to fill that gap, but also to raise the visibility of the teaching profession as a whole, to get people excited about being teachers. Most of us have had the benefit of having at least one teacher that made us excited about learning, and we’re really looking for the next generation of those types of students who are really excited about teaching and want to go into the profession,” said Justin Bearce, Associate Commissioner for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

Lawmakers set aside $10 million to provide 200 Indiana students with teaching scholarships. Students will receive $7,500 each year for four years. Students can attend any accredited school in Indiana, but must stay in the teaching profession for at least five years. There is a set number of scholarships for Indiana counties, based on population.

“It was by design that these scholarships were being awarded across the state, particularly in our rural areas, they sometimes struggle to find teachers in maths and science and special education and to really fill those hard-to-serve areas,” said Bearce.

Students have until Dec. 31 to apply, but so far less than 150 people have applied. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education, the agency in charge of the scholarship, said no students from Indianapolis Public Schools have applied yet. Bearce said he expects to see a surge in applicants right before the deadline.

High school and college students are eligible. Bearce said students must be in the top 20 percent of their class or score really well on the ACT or SAT. Students also need a nomination from a teacher.

“We’re really hoping that teachers — in IPS as well — if there’s a student sitting in your class today that you think is not only a great student, but has a knack for becoming a great teacher — we want those teachers to nominate students to really encourage them to go into the profession,” said Breace.

Finalists will go through an interview process in March. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education will announce the scholarship recipients in April.

To learn more about the scholarship click here.