Tuition exemptions for aides could help districts battle teacher shortages

Does your district have educational aides that would make good teachers? There’s a program that can help them achieve that goal.
In the last session, the Texas Legislature restored funding to the Educational Aide Exemption program. It provides tuition exemptions for educational aides who take courses to obtain teacher certification in critical shortage areas. Those areas are as follows:

  1. Bilingual/English as a Second Language
  2. Career and Technical Education
  3. Computer Science
  4. English as a Second Language
  5. Math
  6. Science
  7. Special Education—Elementary and Secondary
Over the next two years, The Texas Higher Ed Coordinating Board (THECB) has $1.5 million available for the program. Colleges and universities that provide a match of at least 10 percent for each tuition exemption will be given priority when funds are distributed.
Program eligibility is based on need. Applicants for the exemption must meet the following requirements:
  • Be Texas residents
  • Work full-time as an aide or substitute in a Texas school district
  • Be employed by a Texas district during the term of the exemption
  • Enroll in courses leading to teacher certification in a critical shortage subject area
  • Register for the Selective Service or be exempt
  • Meet the academic requirements of the college or university
  • Have applied for financial aid to the college they plan to attend, including filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The program’s funding was cut in 2011, so the THECB is in the process of making new rules to determine how institutions will be reimbursed for the exemptions. A list of frequently asked questions is on the THECB Website.
Principals and administrators should encourage promising educational aides to look into the program.