Teachers can apply for free college courses; STEM focus prioritized

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, July 11, 2018

LAPLACE — Public school teachers can enroll in courses at any regionally accredited college or university, as well as some private universities, in Louisiana at the state’s expense.

The announcement was made Monday by the Louisiana Department of Education and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, which released an application for the BESE Tuition Program for Teachers.

The application prioritizes teachers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, and those accepted to participate in the program who will be taking STEM-focused coursework will join a newly created cadre of educators called STEM Fellows, who will work with the Department and the LaSTEM Council to further STEM initiatives across the state.

“Louisiana strives to make STEM education available to all students to help build a workforce and a citizenry fluent in future technologies,” State Superintendent John White said. “That will necessitate fully prepared teachers with every opportunity to further their own education. The decision to revive this important program marks a step in the right direction.”

In the 2018-19 year, the program, supported by state and federal dollars, will make available 21 seats, seven for each of the fall, spring and summer semesters. If additional funding becomes available, the number for the spring and summer semesters may increase.

Any certified teacher employed may apply, but priority will be given to applicants who:

• Apply to enroll in a course related to the implementation of a high school STEM pathway

• Apply to enroll in a STEM course

• Teach in a rural school system

• Teach at a school labeled Comprehensive Intervention Required

• Apply to enroll in a course that fits into a broader certification, higher degree or other program.

Teachers may apply for courses they are already enrolled in or courses they are able to enroll in prior to the registration deadline. For either option, funds will be provided directly by the Department to the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Aid to pay for the course tuition.

The submission is July 23 and acceptance and rejection decisions will be announced July 27. Applications for Spring 2019 courses will be made available in October.

Log on to louisianabelieves.com or call 877-453-2721 for more information.

Any applicant not accepted to the program is encouraged to explore a similar state program that offers college coursework at no cost. The Classroom Teacher Enrollment Program (CTEP), which was recently revived by the Board of Regents, goes into effect when all funding for the BESE Tuition Program for Teachers is exhausted and allows public school teachers to register for courses that have available seats after that college’s enrollment period closes.