National education and labor news

Teachers stung by grant program get reprieve

The U.S. Department of Education is forgiving college loans for teachers with federal grants that were mistakenly converted into loans through a troubled assistance program.

The federal program, known as Teacher Education Assistance for College, or TEACH, gives money to college students willing to work in high-needs schools or subject areas for at least four of their first eight years after graduating. The grants are converted to federal loans if the teachers fail to verify qualifying employment. The Department of Education found nearly 12,000 participants had their grants converted by mistake.

An investigation by the U.S. Government Accountability Office has noted the problem as far back as 2013 and, in most cases, it was due to a failure to notify TEACH participants of the deadline to certify their employment.

The Department of Education said it will reconsider claims from participants who feel their grants were mistakenly converted to loans and, if appropriate, revert them back to grants and refund the loan payments.

The agency also plans to establish a uniform deadline for annual certification and is considering other changes to streamline the process.

The Washington Post, Dec. 10

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