I am not sure of all the details (and would appreciate hearing of any you learn so we can properly spread the word). Evidently what has been decided is that Mathematics has been designated as a Teacher Shortage Discipline. This means students pursuing this certification are eligible for up to $5000 per year in scholarship money. You must agree to teach Mathematics in an Illinois school for one year for each year of scholarship money you receive. But you were planning to teach anyway, right?
This is of course in addition to other scholarship monies which are available. Consult the NIU Scholarship Office; among their other lists is a list for mathematics.
Let me anticipate your questions in advance, and answer them to the best of my ability.
Q. Do I have to teach in the inner city, or a depressed rural area?
A. No. Any public or private school in Illinois is OK. However, additional money is available for those willing to teach in hard-to-staff schools.
Q. Can I choose the school?
A. Well, you do have to get hired! :-) But yes, you may choose the school.
Q. Is the money available now?
A. Yes. More precisely, the deadline for the current (2005-2006) academic year is passed but there is a little money left so it is possible that you can get money for this year. Applications for next academic year (2006-2007) will be available from the State soon.
Q. Will the money be available next year?
A. I hope so. You should be aware that the state of Illinois is experiencing budget shortfalls and increased expenditures; it might be necessary in a future year to cut back on this program. But there is fairly strong support in Springfield for assisting quality teachers.
Q. Is this a competitive scholarship?
A. Yes, and an important factor will be GPA. You don't have to be reminded that mathematics courses tend to be difficult. This will tend to work against math majors. Fortunately, NIU students are hard-working and bright, and should do well :-)
Q. Can I use this scholarship money while student teaching?
A. I believe so, yes. However, since you will not be a full-time student that semester you will not be a candidate for the full amount of the award. Again, the rules have been written with something other than math teachers in mind, I think; in other disciplines student-teaching is a full semester, and hence carries enough NIU credit to make the student-teacher a full-time student.
If you would like me to help you get clearer answers, let me know. Here are some places I will turn for information, and of course you can too. You can head to the IFTC scholarship web page, or to the home page of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, which is making the money available.
Director of Undergraduate Studies:
Dr. Zhuan (John) Ye
Undergraduate programs in the NIU Department of Mathematical Sciences
Back to the NIU Math Department Web page