A new federally funded student support program, Texas Educators for Students with Autism (TESA), is designed to provide tuition, fees, and funds for books for students being prepared to provide special education services to children and youth with autism using evidence-based practices primarily derived from applied behavior analysis (ABA).
This funding, provided through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), is available for individuals seeking special education (SPED) teaching certification (initial or supplemental) or who are already certified SPED teachers or credentialed related service personnel and are seeking a master’s degree in special education with a concentration in autism/ABA. The program must either culminate in special education state teacher certification or a master’s degree (or both).
The TESA program provides scholarship assistance to qualifying participants through the end of the grant. The scholarship is provided through Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) funding. Individuals who receive scholarship assistance with IDEA funds are required to pay back the federal government through service in employment in which 51% of infants, toddlers, and children to whom the scholar provides services are receiving special education, related services, or early intervention services; or the scholar spends at least 51% of his or her time providing special education, related services, or early intervention services to infants, toddlers, and children with disabilities; and the children served fall under the definition of eligible children as described in section 602(3) of IDEA. For each academic year that a participant receives federal assistance, the participant must maintain full-time employment in an approved position for the equivalent of two years or repay the Federal government for the portion of assistance received that has not been repaid through service. Scholarship recipients are reimbursed at the successful completion of each semester for tuition, fees, and books. Students are also eligible for support to attend autism-related conferences. The TESA coordinator monitors and advises students as they progress through the program.
A second funding source for graduate students in special education is through TEACH grants. Through the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, Congress created the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant Program that provides grants of up to $4,000 per year to students who intend to teach in a high needs field (Mathematics, Science, Special Education, Technology Applications, Foreign Language, Bilingual Education, English as a Second Language) in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves students from low-income families. For more information regarding these grants, contact the Financial Aid Office