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Learn Ways to Cover Your National Board Certification Costs

Accelerate your professional development, and even earn more money, with this advanced teaching credential—it can be a reality with these tips to defray costs.

“It’s the gold standard,” claims Niesa Halpern, chief financial officer at the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). “I’m an accountant,” she explains. “Being a CPA is the pinnacle of my profession. Being a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) is the pinnacle of the teaching profession.”

The National Research Council backs up that bold claim with a myriad of studies that demonstrate how students of NBCTs outperform students of non-NBCTs on achievement tests, exhibit stronger writing abilities, demonstrate better comprehension and make learning gains equivalent to an extra month in school. But achieving National Board Certified status can be quite the financial challenge.

To address this, certification is currently being revised in order to make the process more flexible, efficient and affordable. New certification components were rolled out with the 2014-15 school year, and additional components will roll out through the 2016-17 school year. Your requirements and fees will depend upon when you started, or will start, the program. Make sure you visit the NBCT website and read the Guide to National Board Certification to get the latest details.

Fees and charges

The cost of earning Certification for the 2015-16 school year has been lowered to $1,900. This includes a $75 nonrefundable “Application Fee” (due at the time of application, and for each component cycle) and a $475 fee for each of four components. These components can be spread over multiple years. Though you may incur some miscellaneous fees, $1,900 is what you need to cover to achieve the gold standard. But depending on where you teach, the payback on that Certification can be huge. “I taught in Maryland when I earned mine,” says Jennifer Locke, senior policy analyst at the NEA. “I earned an extra $4,000 a year for the life of the 10-year certification. That’s $40,000.” On top of that, Board Certification is worth up to as many as 9 graduate credits.

Take advantage of financial assistance

The return on your investment can be even greater if you finance the cost through a variety of state programs, loans and scholarships available to teachers. “The first thing I would do is either go to my principal or to my professional development coordinator in my district and say, ‘I know there’s some PD money for me. I’d like to use some of it for National Board Certification,’” Halpern says. “You might even ask for tuition reimbursement money because of the graduate credit option.”

Chances are you will never be fully funded because many states and school districts want you to have some skin in the game to ensure that you’re motivated. However, financial support may be available through your state or school district. For example, Maryland provides fee support and annual stipends up to $1,000—$2,000 if you teach in a school that has failed to reach Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) in multiple categories—for approximately 1,000 candidates, and a number of local districts provide their own support. Search for resources in your state here.

Scholarship money may also available to defray your costs, generally on a first come, first served basis, through the National Board Scholarship Program. Most scholarships for first-time candidates require payment of the nonrefundable initial fee before you can be considered. Many of these scholarships are state or certificate specific, reason again to speak with the professional development coordinator in your school or district. “My association paid half of my assessment fee as a scholarship,” Locke says. “Believe me, there’s an infinite number of ways to finance the fee.” All you need is the will.

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