Teaching full-time for five consecutive years at a low-income school will make you eligible for a forgiveness of $17,500 on direct student loans (subsidized or unsubsidized), assuming you are fully certified as a teacher and meet additional requirements. Also, there is a chance you may qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). If you've made 120 monthly payments on your direct loans but there is more left over and you're working for a qualified employer, you may have the rest forgiven. This is through the federal government. Your state may also offer a specialized teacher loan forgiveness program as well.
Wondering how to save money as a teacher? With small salaries, big classes, and a lot of financial needs, educators frequently struggle to keep everything under a strict budget. We've created this guide full of money-saving tips for teachers to help you find better educator discounts on everything from 3D printers to field trips to pencils. Get cheaper supplies, attack your college loans, master taxes, and learn new ways to save money as a teacher!
Getting Started as a Teacher: Important Money Tips
Getting a teaching position is super-exciting, but it becomes very apparent after a few months that most teachers are strict with their spending for a reason. Learning how to budget on a teacher's salary has as much of a learning curve as most lessons! Here are some tricks for getting started.
How Teacher Loan Forgiveness Works
Memberships and Important Groups
There are dozens of potential groups to be a part of as an educator. Consider joining one or a few of them to get special deals, professional development opportunities, and bargaining help.
- National Education Association - NEA members get dozens of special deals and savings, from online purchases to movie tickets. See what you can save on here.
- American Federation of Teachers (AFT) - This group is less about the deals and more about the collective bargaining, and it's a good idea to be a member.
- Association of American Educators - Get savings as a member of this non-union organization.
Mastering the Summer Break
If you're looking at a low paycheck and wondering how to make more money as a teacher, getting a good gig for the summer months may be a reasonable answer. Check local businesses to see if they need summer help; restaurants, stores, and resorts all frequently need more hands in places that people visit on vacation.
Here are a few other options for how to make extra money as a teacher:
- Blog, contribute, or sell relevant writing in your area of expertise.
- Tutor kids online.
- Find an arts-and-crafts hobby that you could sell on Etsy.
- Earn money on your own schedule with a popular app service like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Rover, or Instacart.
- Rent out your house during the summer on Airbnb and go camping.
- Run a service that's only relevant in the summertime, like a lawn-cutting service.
- Run special summer events like a writing retreat or a historical tour. You could also find continuing education programs to teach.
- Become a waiter or bartender for the summer rush.
- Become a counselor or teacher at a summer camp.
The Real Trick: Saving on School Supplies
Schools are paying for less and less these days, and teachers who are serving low-income students can't simply ask parents to buy hundreds of dollars of supplies. It often falls on the teacher's shoulders to buy everything from crayons to books to technology. So how can teachers afford it? Where do teachers get discounts?
There are dozens of stores that give teacher discounts with the use of an ID or NEA membership. If you need to buy something, consider buying it in bulk and checking well ahead of time to see if you can get a percentage taken off your order. We've gathered a list of some of the best teacher discounts online to check before you sink hundreds of dollars into necessary books and classroom supplies.
If you're struggling to cover basic classroom expenses; don't worry. There are numerous places with teacher discounts as well as consistently affordable online stores like Oriental Trading, Dollar Days, Discount School Supply, K12 School Supplies, Teacher Superstore, and National School Supply. You'll find discount teacher supplies easily at any one of these stores. Note that if your class is in an extreme situation, you may be able to get help from the Kids in Need Foundation, too.
Basic Classroom Supplies
Every paperclip, pencil case, and glue stick can add up. It’s been estimated that nearly 94% of US teachers need to buy their own school supplies, often around $500 per year. Kids coming in without home support or money can’t help it, but teachers having to spend half a grand on the regular is pretty awful. See if you can find wholesale options and deals to cut back on those costs!
- Office Depot Teacher Discount - Get 2% back as a rewards member.
- Costco Wholesale Online-Only Exclusive Teacher Offer - When you become a member, you get special teacher-related savings.
- Pencils.com Teacher/Educator Discount Program - Sign up as a teacher and get 10% off all orders.
- The Container Store Organized Teacher Discount Program - Apply for a special discount on totes and containers for your school supplies.
- GelPro Coupons - Take better care of your back with anti-fatigue mats and use a 25% coupon.
- Lakeshore Teacher's Club - Save 15% on on classroom supplies, furniture, and toys.
- RaymondGeddes.com School Supplies Rewards Club - Get cute and fun school supplies after signing up as a member of the rewards club.
- Yoobi Classroom Pack - Sign your classroom up if it qualifies (70% of the students in your elementary grade classroom must be enrolled in the federal reduced lunch program) and receive a box of free school supplies.
- KiwiCo Bulk Orders for Schools - Get special pricing when you buy school supplies in bulk.
- Educator Discounts From FedEx - Print your teaching materials for 15% less.
- Overstock Club O Classroom Membership - Join Overstock.com's "Club O" for free as a teacher.
Arts and Crafts Supplies
Despite mountains of evidence showing that the arts can have a positive impact on children’s behaviors, attitudes, and expression, when budget cuts have happened, art supplies were the first to go in almost 80% of U.S. school districts since 2008. But a savvy art or elementary teacher who knows where to buy and when can help fill in the gaps. Try these discounts, or start fund-raising with Move Your Mountain or the Art Class Curator Resource Library.
- Dick Blick for Educators - Save on art products like canvases and paints, or even get free lesson plans and art class aid.
- Michaels Teacher Discount - Teachers can get 15% off on their whole purchase with an educator ID.
- A.C. Moore We Love Teachers Discount - You can also get 15% off on your whole purchase at A.C. Moore.
- JoAnn Fabrics Teacher Rewards - Get 15% off in stores and online with a valid ID.
- Party City Organization Discounts - Get deals when you buy in bulk as an organization. This technically isn't a Party City teacher discount as much as something available to all organizations, but it's still handy when throwing class parties!
Getting Deals on Books
If your administrator unfortunately believes that cutting back on books is one of the top ways schools can save money, then use these resources to work better with the budget you have. English books especially can be pricey, so consider buying in bulk, grouping purchases with other teachers, or buying used.
Textbooks and Books
Dusty, poorly maintained, and irrelevant books can be a huge disadvantage to a classroom. Don’t assume those are the only options, as places like Scholastic offer amazing bulk-book deals and huge savings besides. Beyond textbooks, you can use these deals to encourage your students to read the books they like to read with your own classroom library; just stamp the inside cover with your name and classroom number.
- Barnes & Noble Educator Discount - Save 20% on the publisher's list price; on special Educator Appreciation Days, save 25%. First, you need to enroll.
- Half-Price Books Educator Discount - Educators get 10% off year-round on already discounted textbooks.
- The Scholastic Teacher Store - An ultimate store for teachers, Scholastic offers special deals on books such as $1 books and cheap shipping.
- Bookmans Project: Educate - Even while buying used books, teachers can still save 20% at Bookmans.
- Books-A-Million Educator's Discount Program - Get 20% off at Books-A-Million.
- ThriftBooks Teacher and Educator Discount - ThriftBooks offers classroom and homeschool teachers 15% off used class sets.
- Schuler Books Teacher Discount - One of the country's largest independent bookstores offers a 20% off discount for teachers.
Magazines and Newspapers
This might be surprising, but news agencies are spending thousands to ensure that the next generation of kids is educated about current events and invested in our world. Magazines and newspapers also make great talking points for class!
- The New York Times Academic Rate - Students and academics can get 50% off online subscriptions.
- Washington Post Academic Rate - Newspapers are 50% off for teachers and college students.
- USA Today Education Program - Get 45% on USA Today newspapers.
- The Wall Street Journal for Professors - Colleges, professors, and students can get special deals on print and digital copies of The Wall Street Journal.
In terms of budget cuts, tech is usually the first to go. But who gives teacher discounts on technology? Luckily, there are ways to save on the classroom tech that you need. (Note that you may also apply for a Best Buy Community Grant for tech-related classroom help.)
- Texas Instruments Teacher Discount Program - Kids need calculators, and this is the most popular brand! You'll need to apply and pre-order your calculators.
- Eduporium Educator Discount - Save on cool STEM tech like 3D printers and robotics.
- LittleBits Educator Discount - Get deals on makers' materials like inventor and robot kits.
- Apple Education Pricing - Get an Apple teacher discount on a Mac or iPad for students.
- Lenovo's Discount Laptops for Teachers - Get 20% off on the Think line of laptops or 15% off on the Idea line.
- Sprint Works Program for Teachers - Get special offers on service and support.
- Bose Discounts for Educators - If you or your students need better sound or headphones, check out these special prices.
- Best Buy Education Partnerships - There isn't necessarily a Best Buy teacher discount, but Best Buy can offer IT, software, and hardware to entire schools in large-scale projects.
- Microsoft for Educators - Get Office 365 for free and 10% off on Surface devices.
- Canon Education Deals - Buying projectors and cameras in bulk for schools can lead to special deals.
- Adobe Creative Cloud for Students - Educators who want to use powerful Adobe products like Photoshop and Illustrator will need to sign up for Creative Cloud. Students and teachers can pay a fraction of the normal cost.
Other Deals and Teaching Resources
Of course, teacher deals aren't limited to just classroom supplies. With an NEA membership, you can get deals on clothes, toys, and much more. And there are plenty of other ways to avoid spending extra money unnecessarily on your classroom needs.
Lesson Plans and Free Media
If you're struggling to create lesson plans and activities, you also have access to many free teaching resources through government or private sources. In other words, you shouldn't have to drop hundreds on buying your own DVDs for class.
- PBS Learning Media Free Videos for Teachers - Browse a huge list of free educational videos (as well as other types of content) from PBS.
- National Geographic Classroom Resources - Look through the massive catalog of resources by grade and subject.
- Dramatists Play Service Educator Discount - Save on plays and licensing.
- Kennelly Keys Music Educator Services - Give students the opportunity to rent instruments and get some sheet music.
- Free Art Lesson Plans From Crayola - Get lesson plans, activity ideas, and professional development resources from the crayon creators.
Note that in addition to hunting for teacher discounts and deals, you can always check for coupons using the Cently Chrome extension or on CouponFollow.com. We have hundreds of deals on popular sites that teachers use, like Amazon, Target, Office Depot, and more. Don't ever pay full price for your classroom supplies!
Fund-Raising, Field Trips, and Working With Parents
Remember: Your school projects don't and shouldn't come out of your own pocket. From grants to local fund-raisers, there's plenty of ways for teachers to raise money for their field trips and special projects. Also, don't forget that teachers themselves can save on travel and tickets quite frequently.
Field Trips 101
A field trip can change a whole child's life; don't let the lack of budget make you shy away from a powerful journey. Here are some travel tips for teachers.
Examples of Discounted Field Trip Locations
Check your local museum, art gallery, children's museum, or tourist attraction for special field trip deals. You'd be surprised by what's right around the corner. Here are some popular examples all around the country.
- Kennedy Space Center Teacher Pass - If you're in Florida, Georgia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or Puerto Rico, you can get an Educator Study Pass for saving on field trips.
- Boston Museum of Science Teacher Partner Program - New England private and public K-12 school teachers can enjoy discounts on tickets and workshops.
- Field Museum for Educators - The museum offers not only deals on field trips but professional development resources.
- Art Institute Educator Pass - Illinois educators can get free admission to this Chicago institution. Note that you must apply ahead.
- SeaWorld Parks Deals for Teachers - Get teacher passes for one of the SeaWorld locations. There are also plenty of educational resources.
- Opryland Teacher Discount - You can stay at the Gaylord Opryland Resort for a fraction of the normal cost.
- Colonial Williamsburg Special Offers - What's cooler than living history? Teachers can get a 50% ticket for a single-day pass.
Hotel and Travel Discounts for Teachers
Traveling back and forth on your field trips, or going on vacation by yourself, doesn't need to cost so much. Find some handy teacher hotel discounts as well as deals on car rentals.
- Contiki Teachers' Deal - Get $75 off on a Contiki trip of 7 days or longer.
- E-Z Rent A Car - Get 10% off as a teacher.
- Sixt Rent A Car - Get 5% off as a teacher.
- Budget Truck Rental - If you need to move your classroom, you can rent a truck for local moves at 20% off.
- Howard Johnson Hotels - Certain Wyndham Hotels provide deals for government employees.
- Westgate Hotel Discounts for Educators - Save 10% with a discount code.
- Trade Winds Island Resorts Deal - Get lower rates on a vacation as a teacher.
- Swan and Dolphin Walt Disney World Teacher Rates - Get special rates at two of the more popular hotels in Florida.
Certain organizations also award cash for field trips or for any general classroom needs. Consider applying to these:
- Target Field Trip Grants - Retailer Target offers grants for field trips of $700.
- American Battlefield Field Trip Grants - Visit an American battlefield with your class at a fraction of the normal cost.
- NEA Foundation Student Achievement Grants - Get grants for special projects for engaging with exemplary students.
- Walmart Community Grants - Get non-specific aid for your whole school.
Fund-Raising and Asking for Help
Having a good relationship with your Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) is an absolutely vital tool for working effectively during a fund-raiser. If your school doesn't already have a PTA, it may be smart to recommend forming one. An organized and passionate PTA can get a great deal done. Be a team player and give everyone clear-cut goals. Here are some pro tips:
- Engage all parents with an email list.
- Create clear volunteer schedules, call trees, and check-ins for parents volunteering for events.
- Have backup plans.
- Ask for feedback on your plan and adapt to changes.
- Thank everyone who was involved for every project.
- Keep everyone informed.
- Don't forget all necessary forms and paperwork, such as an emergency plan for your kids. Go over what to do in an emergency with both kids and parents.
Parents can come up with some fun and interesting ideas that you may not have thought of. There are dozens of fund-raising ideas to try out; getting your field trip idea paid for may be easier than you think!
Another option that many teachers don't think of is hitting the streets to ask local businesses for financial assistance or help. Local chambers of commerce may already have school-benefiting fund-raisers. Always be sure to ask your school administrators for help as well!
Taxes and Keeping Receipts
Here's an important tip: Save those receipts! Teachers can qualify for an Educator Expense Deduction up to $250 (or $500 if jointly filing with another teacher). Books, supplies, technology, and athletic equipment can all qualify under the guidelines. Also, don't forget to take any deductions for your own student loans.
The financial life of a teacher seems stressful, but once you find a rhythm, it can be quite rewarding. Keep an eye out for any other school employee discounts, such as deals that might show up during Teacher Appreciation Week. Deals might be available during the second week of May for this observance. Look for special deals at stores like Staples, restaurants like Chipotle, and any participating local businesses.
Remember that so many people in America appreciate you every single day!