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Indiana’s teacher scholarships expands for more students amid shortage

By Aubrey Wright, IPB News | Published on in Economy, Education, Government
The Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship provides up to $40,000 for students who agree to teach in Indiana for at least five years or pay back the scholarship. (From Indiana Commission for Higher Education)

The Commission for Higher Education has expanded its scholarship program for high-achieving students in a step toward reducing the teacher shortage in Indiana.  

The Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship provides up to $40,000 for recipients — future teachers who will stay and work in Indiana schools for at least five years. The program expanded after the General Assembly’s 2023 session to accept more students and create more opportunities for minority students.  

Greg Harrell, the commission’s director of legislation and program implementation, said the program was created to attract and retain educators in Indiana.  

“We’re experiencing, I think, a teacher shortage, just like most other states in the country,” Harrell said. “This program is a lever by which to encourage students to enter the teaching profession, and by its design, hopefully stay as teachers once they’re contributing to Hoosier classrooms.” 

Applications close Jan. 31.  

The scholarship was created in 2016, and more than 1,500 students have received the scholarship, Harrell said. The program used to award 200 students per cycle, but Harrell said the General Assembly removed that cap as interest grew.  

“One thing we were really excited about working with our partners at the General Assembly was removing that 200 recipient restriction,” Harrell said. “This past award cycle for students who are currently using our award for the first time, we selected 375 students.” 

The Next Generation Hoosier Minority Educators Scholarship was created for Black and Latino students after the 2023 session, Harrell said. This award is a parallel program to the Next Generation Hoosier Education Award, with the same academic requirements, deadline, and scholarship awards.  

The number of students of color who received the scholarship has grown from 9 percent to 20 percent of total scholarship recipients in the last cycle, he said.  

“We want our teaching pipeline to better match our changing student demographics in the classroom,” Harrell said.  

The National Education Association estimated more than 300,000 teaching positions were unfilled this year. The shortage also affects Indiana’s schools. The Indiana Department of Education currently reports more than 1,500 teaching positions open.  

Harrell said the Next Generation Hoosier Educators scholarship program isn’t a cure-all for the teacher shortage, but its recipients show promise.  

“The first cohort of students to use the award, 90 percent of those 200 students are either actively contributing in Hoosier classrooms as teachers, or they are pursuing education beyond an undergraduate degree and hopefully upon getting done, will enter the classroom as well,” Harrell said.” It’s very successful.” 

Who can apply for the scholarship?

High school and college students can apply for the scholarship. The program is a competitive scholarship, not a need-based scholarship, Harrell said, to “attract the best and brightest.” 

Students must meet one of three requirements: a top 20 percent ACT (25) or SAT score (1130), a cumulative grade point average of at least a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, or rank in the top 20 percent of high school graduating class. 

Students also submit extracurriculars, work experience, and a short writing prompt, Harrell said.  

“We do have to score students holistically,” Harrell said.   

Eligible students can apply for The Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship and the The Next Generation Hoosier Minority Educators Scholarship. Students can find the application online.  

They can only receive one scholarship though, Harrell said. The scholarships are good for up to $10,000 a year.  

After receiving the scholarship, students will have to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), earn at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA and complete at least 30 credit hours. If a student does not complete the five-year teaching requirement, they’ll have to pay back the scholarship as a loan, according to the commission’s website.  

So far, more than 160 students have applied, and 164 people have started the application but yet finished, Harrell said. The commission is working in every county and in places such as the Indiana Latino Institute and the Indiana Black Expo to spread the word.  

“As much as we can, we’re talking about this scholarship, how important it is, and working with really key community partners as well,” Harrell said. 

Aubrey is our higher education reporter and a Report For America corps member. Contact her at aubmwrig@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @aubreymwright.