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Educator loans for classroom expenses

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Explore 9 credit unions that offer low-cost funding for teachers.

After years of budget cuts, some 94% of US teachers spend personal money on classroom supplies, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. It’s not uncommon for educators to fork over upwards of $1,000 at the beginning of the year to compensate for the lack of funding. To account for this, many credit unions have started offering zero- and low-interest loans to help teachers manage this cost and avoid living on a shoestring budget every fall.

Where can I find a loan to pay for classroom supplies?

The most common place to find educator loans to pay for classroom supplies is at credit unions. However, some community development financial institutions (CDFIs), like local banks and online lenders, might also offer special loans for teachers.

Credit unions that offer classroom supply loans are usually community-based organizations that limit membership to residents of a select group of counties or state. In other words: You’ll have more luck if you look locally.

What’s an educator loan?

Educator loans are loans specifically designed to help teachers manage the cost of buying supplies like markers, paper, tissues and other necessities that the school budget doesn’t cover. Also called classroom supply loans, you can typically borrow up to $500 or $1,000 with a 12-month term and little to no interest or fees.

Check the fine print before you apply, though. Often these loans are only available during a specific time of year and limit teachers to one loan at a time.

9 lenders that offer educator loans

LenderAmountsInterestFeeMax termEligible states
Schools Financial Credit Union$5000%$0VariesCalifornia
Education First Credit Union$1,0000%$4912 monthsOhio
Gulf Coast Educators Federal Credit Union$1,0001.99% to 9.99%$012 monthsTexas
Firstmark Credit Union$5000%$1010 monthsTexas
Silver State Schools Credit Union$1,0003.29%$012 monthsNevada
A+ Federal Credit Union$5000%$0VariesTexas
Michigan Schools & Government Credit Union$5000%$010 monthsMichigan
CapEd Credit Union$3,0000% to 4%$024 monthsIdaho
Schools Federal Credit Union$1,0000%$012 monthsCalifornia

Schools Financial Credit Union

This Sacramento-based credit union was founded in 1933 to serve educators. Now anyone who lives in Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer, Sutter, Yuba, Butte, Nevada, San Joaquin, Solano, Yolo, Napa or Sonoma counties can join by opening an account with $1. You must be a certified employee at a school to qualify for its Classroom Supply Loan.

It also offers the following resources to teachers and school employees:

  • Administrator Credential Loan. Funding for the Preliminary Administrative Services Program or the Clear Administrative Services Program.
  • Educational Employee Mortgage Loan. A discounted mortgage for school employees with as little as 3% down and no origination fee for first-time buyers.
  • Educator Computer Loan. Low-interest financing for computers, hardware, software and printers.
  • Teacher Certification Loan. A low-interest loan to pay for the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification program.
  • Teacher Intern Loan. Low-rate loans to help pay for the cost of participating in the California Teacher Commission Teacher Intern Program.
  • Teacher Relocation Loan. Financing to cover moving costs, a security deposit or first month’s rent if you’re new to a district that qualifies you for membership at this credit union.

Education First Credit Union

Education First Credit Union (EFCU) is made for educators in the state of Ohio — specifically Franklin County or the Worthington, Gahanna, Westerville or Oletany School Districts. You must either live, work, worship or attend school in those areas, work for an eligible employer or attend a university in the state of Ohio to be eligible for membership.

Teachers are limited to taking out one EFCU Classroom Supply Loan at a time, and there may be restrictions on how you use the funds. You must be a member and have a current teaching contract to qualify. It also offers low-interest Computer Loans and a First-Year Teacher Visa Credit Card to educators.

Gulf Coast Educators Federal Credit Union

You can join this credit union if you work in a school district or college in the Houston area or have a family member who does. This means Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery or Waller County teachers are eligible for this loan.

It’s one of the more expensive classroom funding options — you could end up paying as much as 9.99% interest. To qualify, you must provide proof of employment at an eligible school district, such as a pay stub or work contract.

Gulf Coast Educators Credit Union also offers the following loans to teachers:

  • Relocation Loan. Foot the cost of moving to a new school district by borrowing up to $5,000 with a three-year term and 1.99% to 9.99% APR.
  • Professional Development Loan. Finance an advanced degree or certification with this loan up to $10,000 with a five-year term and 1.99% to 9.99% APR.
  • First-Year Teacher Loan. Financing to cover personal expenses and bridge the gap between accepting your first teaching job and your first paycheck. Borrow up to $1,500 with a 12-month term and 1.99% to 9.99% APR.
  • Teacher Mortgage. Home loans with no down payment or private mortgage insurance (PMI) for teachers and administrators with good credit and at least two years of teaching experience.

Firstmark Credit Union

Formerly known as the San Antonio Teachers Credit Union, this Texas-based lender offers small-dollar financing to teachers in addition to offering 15 educator grants of $500 each year. You must be a teacher and a member to qualify for both the loan and the grant.

Silver State Schools Credit Union

The Classroom Supply Loan at this Nevada credit union is slightly more expensive than other options, though generally still cheaper than most personal loans. Membership eligibility for this credit union extends to all teachers across the state.

To qualify, you must be a member with direct deposit into your Silver State Schools Credit Union (SSSCU) account and sign up for autopay from that account. Teachers can only take out one Classroom Supply Loan per year.

SSSCU also offers the following types of financing to educators:

  • Advanced Curriculum Loan. Borrow up to $5,000 with a four-year term to pay for an advanced degree or certification program.
  • Educator Loan. Financing of up to $2,000 with a two-year term at 6.99% APR for general expenses associated with being a teacher.

Current and retired educators also qualify for a 0.5% rate discount on personal loans, lines of credit and car loans from SSSCU.

A+ Federal Credit Union

This Texas-based credit union offers funding for classroom supplies between July 15 and September 30. Teachers are limited to having one Classroom Cash Loan out at any time, and you must be a member in good standing to qualify. You’re eligible for membership if you work at an eligible school.

In addition to the Classroom Cash Loan, A+ Federal Credit Union also offers the following loans to teachers:

  • Higher Education Loan. Fund a post-graduate degree, even if you’re not enrolled at least half time.
  • Bridge Loan. Borrow up to 75% of your gross monthly income to cover personal expenses during the gap between getting hired at a school district and your first paycheck.
  • Educator Mortgage Loan. Discounted mortgages for teachers with no origination fee and APRs starting at 3.479%.
  • Certification Loan. Low-cost financing for Region 13 teacher certification costs.

Teachers can also apply for its $1,000 A+ Education Foundation Grants to buy equipment and classroom supplies. You must be a K-12 teacher working at an eligible school to qualify.

Michigan Schools & Government Credit Union

Classroom Loans are available to Michigan Schools & Government Credit Union (MSGCU) members who are certified teachers. This loan is only available if you apply in person with a copy of your teaching certificate and proof of employment — like a recent pay stub.

You can qualify for membership if you live, work, attend school or worship in any of the counties in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

CapEd Credit Union

Teachers can use the Educator Loan from CapEd Credit Union for a variety of purposes, from classroom supplies to additional certifications. You need to have an active rewards checking account with direct deposit set up from your employer to qualify for this loan — in addition to being a member.

To qualify for membership, you must teach or attend school in an eligible county or school district. Otherwise, you can join by becoming a member of the Idaho CapEd Foundation by paying a $20 membership fee.

Schools Federal Credit Union

Formerly called Los Angeles Classified School Employees Federal Credit Union, this California credit union was formed exclusively to serve teachers and students in the Los Angeles area. To qualify for membership, you must be an educator or student in an eligible school district.

On top of its Classroom Supply Loan, which you can take out twice a year, Schools Federal Credit Union also offers the following financing options for educators:

  • Classified Utility Loan. Borrow up to $1,000 to get the tools you need for your classroom with this zero-interest loan that comes with a 10-month term.
  • Relocation Loan. Cover moving costs, the security deposit or your first month’s rent to relocate for a teaching position at a new school. Loan amounts go up to $5,000 with a 5.9% APR and three-year term.
  • Career Enhancement Loan. Finance up to $10,000 to pay for extra training to develop new skill sets or expand your credentials with this five-year loan that comes with a 5.9% APR.
  • Teacher’s Line of Credit. Pay for additional expenses that pop up throughout the school year with this revolving line of credit that’s capped at $2,000 with a 5.9% APR.
  • Payroll Assistance Loan. If payroll allotment changes left you scrambling for funds over the summer months, you may qualify for up to $3,000 with a 5.9% APR and 18-month term.

To qualify for any of these products, you need to be a member of Schools Federal Credit Union and have direct deposit set up from an eligible school.

    Alternatives to borrowing

    Loans aren’t the only way to pay for classroom expenses. You might want to consider alternatives if your local credit unions don’t offer interest-free classroom loans.

    Grants

    Many credit unions and organizations like the National Education Association offer grants to teachers to help pay for classroom supplies. These typically run from $500 to $1,000, like educator loans. You don’t have to pay them back, though competition is tougher and you’ll have to spend more time on the application.

    Crowdfunding

    You can also raise funds from your social network, students’ families and concerned citizens by making a crowdfunding campaign on a site like GoFundMe. This could be a good option if you need more than the typical $500 to $1,000 that lenders offer for classroom loans. Make sure to give yourself enough time to meet your fundraising goal and factor in platform fees when figuring out how much to raise.

    Tax breaks for educators

    Even if you do end up spending money out of pocket to set up your classroom, you can deduct up to $250 of that cost when you file taxes. You must be a K-12 teacher that works for at least 900 hours per school year to qualify. Consult a tax adviser to learn if your expenses are eligible for this deduction.

    Bottom line

    If you find your bank account drained at the beginning of the school year, an educator loan can help manage those costs. But you’ll have to find a credit union near you that offers classroom loans to take advantage of these low rates.

    You can learn more about other financing options with our guide to personal loans.

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