Thanks to a federal grant, you can get up to $10,000 if you agree to make the transition from battle plans to lesson plans. As part of the Troops to Teachers program, special incentives are being offered to assist eligible members of the armed forces to obtain certification or licensing to become elementary school teachers, secondary school teachers, or vocational/technical instructors. You may also get placement in high-need local education agencies or charter schools.

The idea behind this federal grant is to help solve several problems at once. First, during periods of high unemployment, returning soldiers can have some difficulty finding work to help the transition back into civilian life. Secondly, certain schools have understaffing issues and need more teachers. Finally, there’s the idea that classrooms that have a large number of students or lack of strong guidance could benefit from military-style leadership and discipline. Well, and also, if you’ve eaten C-rations, then school cafeteria food won’t seem so bad to you. This particular phase of the program is still too new to know whether all of these issues are addressed, but one of the ways the federal grants are used is to try out creative solutions to social problems.

Here’s how these federal grants are disbursed. Stipends of up to $5,000 are awarded to former members of the armed forces who undergo the preparation and certification to become teachers. Those who agree to teach in schools with high poverty rates may qualify for a $10,000 bonus (these are provided instead of the $5,000 stipend, not in addition). You’ll get your payout after you’ve worked for three years.

There are a few additional requirements to qualify for your share of this federal grant. Your military discharge has to have been honorable. You have to have a Baccalaureate or advanced degree from an accredited institution at the time of registration and be enrolled in a teacher certification program. If you want to work as a vo-tech teacher, you need to have the equivalent of one year of college with six years of work experience in a vocational or technical field or meet state requirements for vocational/technical teacher referral.

The way that a high-poverty school is defined for eligibility for one of these federal grant-funded bonuses is that at least 50 percent of the students who attend the school are from low-income families and/or the school has a large percentage of students who qualify for assistance under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

If you think you might benefit from this federal grant, you can see where there are openings available by calling a program representative at 850-452-1111 or 800-231-6242.

If you enrolled and qualified for benefits under the original Troops to Teachers program in the 1990s, you are considered for entry into the new program and receipt of the federal grants, but have to meet the eligibility criteria for the new Troops to Teachers program.