The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) is urging minority students enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate teaching program to apply for available scholarship money.
The scholarship funding comes from the state's Minority Teachers of Illinois Scholarship Program. Eligible minority students pursuing a degree with the intent to teach at the pre-K through 12 level can apply for up to $5,000 in scholarship funding toward tuition, school fees, room and board or computer costs.
To be eligible, students must maintain a grade point average of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale, among other requirements. After they graduate, scholarship recipients must spend a year teaching at a nonprofit public, private or parochial preschool, elementary or high school in Illinois with about a third or more minority students for every year they receive the MTI funding.
Lynne Baker, communications director for ISAC, says the goal is to help minority students get their teaching certificate and "then have those students go into schools where you have at least 30 percent minority students so they also have those role models." Eligible minorities include African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Native Americans and Hispanic Americans.
The deadline to apply for scholarships for the current school year is midnight Feb. 15. Baker says the number of scholarship applications received by the agency dropped significantly after the MTI program went unfunded for a year during the state's budget impasse.
"So if students are eligible for this scholarship, they'll likely get it because the money is out there," she says.
For more information about the MTI scholarship program, visit the ISAC website.