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Frequently Asked Questions and Clarifications

Future Proud Michigan Educator 27b Grow Your Own Grants

  • Local education agencies (LEAs), intermediate school districts (ISDs), public school academies (PSAs).  Individual educators are not eligible applicants; they were encouraged to inquire with their employers whether their employers had applied and were awarded a grant, to then determine their own status for reimbursement.

    Note that public LEAs, ISDs, and PSAs could apply for the grant, and their educator preparation partner can be a public, independent, or alternative route program.  In addition, if an LEA, ISD or PSA wished to apply on behalf of a non-public school, the applicant would need to serve as the fiscal agent.

    Districts who may not have learned about Round 1 of the applications for the 27b grants originally but who saw a need for more high-quality teachers in their buildings were encouraged to apply in Round 2, as were districts who intended to apply at the time of the Round 1 application window but missed the original deadline.

  • All GYO Staff grants can pay for tuition, fees, testing costs, books, travel to and from locations where the staff member participates in courses, and the costs of substitute employees. Any non-capital expense directly related to implementing or participating in the grantee's GYO program is a potentially eligible expense. These GYO funds can also pay for costs for 6-12th grade EXPLORE programs, up to 10% of what the district has budgeted for the awarded GYO grant.

  • Sec. 27b of the state budget specified funds for “support staff.”  For the purposes of GYO Staff grants, support staff is defined as any employed individual who is working in a school. Examples include: teacher’s aides, paraprofessionals, before- and after-school care workers, bus drivers, and substitute teachers.

    The employee does not have to be a full-time employee to qualify for funding.

    Staff employed by a third party (e.g., substitute teachers employed by EduStaff), but who are working in a school, are considered support staff for the purposes of the GYO Staff grants. 

  • GYO Staff funds can be used to add additional endorsements when an LEA, ISD, or PSA has demonstrated the need for the endorsement to meet staffing needs.

    Only endorsement programs leading to teacher certification are eligible. While this includes school counselor teaching endorsements, school counselor licenses are not eligible; thus, schools must be careful in addressing their needs for school counselors and the employment pathways their staff members intend to follow.

    Not included in eligibility are administrator, school social work, and school psychologist credentials. While these roles are important, they were not included in the legislation providing for the grants.

    Grantees may access a list of qualifying teaching endorsements on MDE's Directory of Educator Preparation Providers and Programs. Only programs that lead to endorsements classified as “Teacher or CTE” are eligible.

    While CTE programs are considered endorsements that are eligible under 27b grant funds, Michigan also offers the Future Proud Michigan Educator Career and Technical Education (CTE) Teacher Recruitment and Retention Grants, also known as 61i grants, to Michigan's intermediate school districts.

  • Access MDE’s Directory of Educator Preparation Providers and Programs and select the desired endorsement to see a list of institutions and alternative routes that are approved to offer that endorsement.

  • Yes, under certain conditions.

    If a district is considering a partnership with an out-of-state preparation educator preparation provider, the completed program must be in a teaching endorsement area that Michigan can match. Endorsements that Michigan does not offer, such as Gifted and Talented or Curriculum and Instruction, are not eligible under the grant.

    In addition, out-of-state educator preparation providers must:

    • be accredited by one of the regional accrediting organizations recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation,
    • be degree-granting,
    • Include student teaching if the candidate is pursuing an initial certification, and
    • be approved to lead to standard-level teacher certification in the state where it is offered.

    A summary of these requirements can be found on the MDE Out-of-State Applicants page and additional guidance is provided in the accompanying video.

    It is important that applying districts who wish to name an out-of-state partner understand that the applicant assumes the risk of out-of-state providers and programs. This is because:

    • Out-of-state certification programs and credentials may differ from Michigan programs and credentials; however, under an Interstate Compact Agreement (ICA), the Michigan Department of Education attempts to match out-of-state certificates, grade levels and content endorsements, as closely as possible. To determine reciprocity under the ICA, an evaluation must be completed.
    • For this to happen, an individual educator applicant must submit an application through the Michigan Online Educator Certification System (MOECS). MOECS determines the appropriate certificate level (interim, standard or professional) based on answers to the application questions. Reciprocity notwithstanding, Michigan certification is not guaranteed.
    • All applicants must fulfill all additional certification requirements as specified in Michigan laws and administrative rules.
  • Yes. Districts are welcome to partner with any EPP that will help their candidates to meet their staffing needs. For example, an applicant may want to partner with a specific EPP for employees who are seeking additional endorsements, but partner with a different EPP for employees who are seeking initial certification.

  • Yes and no. Candidates cannot concurrently receive support through the MI Future Educator Fellowship (Sec. 27a) or MI Future Educator Stipend (Sec. 27c) while at the same time being designated for the GYO Staff grant (27b). The emphasis here is on the concurrent nature of the awards. For example, it is possible that a candidate could receive a GYO Staff grant to finish courses in one semester and then receive a MI Future Educator Student Teaching Stipend in a different semester.

    In addition, GYO candidates also cannot be concurrently receiving funding through Sec. 27p, which is legislated for Marquette-Alger RESA and a consortium of ISDs to provide an apprenticeship GYO program.

    However, individual candidates for Grow Your Own funds can be the same individuals who receive financial support from the 27k Student Loan Repayment Program. To the extent possible, districts should ensure that the expenditures incurred with student loans whose payments are being passed to teachers under the Student Loan Repayment Program are not the same expenses that are reimbursed through the Grow Your Own program, in order to avoid the appearance of “double dipping” into grant monies. The district should create its own internal procedures to ensure a clear separation of these expenditures.

  • "No cost pathway" means that the entire pathway the candidate experiences toward certification and/or endorsements should be completed at zero cost to the candidate. Grant budgeting should therefore contemplate all possible eligible costs: tuition, fees, testing, materials, books, transportation, the cost of substitutes necessary to ensure the candidate's participation in coursework, and any other costs directly related to the grantee's GYO program.

    With the understanding that GYO grantee districts are expected to provide a no-cost pathway to candidates during the grant performance period, districts are not held liable or responsible for expenses past the end of the grant performance period which still might be incurred by candidates who have not completed their pathways by the end of the grant. Districts are encouraged to identify local mechanisms and alternative funding sources, including other sources of financial assistance already available to Michigan’s educators, which may extend the no-cost pathway to initial certification or additional endorsement.

  • Grants are reimbursed through NexSys, in the form of federal draw downs. Instructions are available in the “Grant Administration Resources” section of the GYO Staff Grant website.

  • After award, if the district's employee had already paid tuition (or another allowable expense) during the eligibility window, that tuition could qualify for reimbursement, provided the preparation program and credential was eligible under the terms of the grant. Districts who received a federally funded grant can reimburse candidate expenses as far back as March 3, 2021. Districts who received a state-funded grant can reimburse candidate expenses as far back as October 1, 2022.

  • No, they do not. In accordance with the fiscal year 2024 legislated requirements, the program can have a certificate-only pathway.

  • LEAs, ISDs, and PSAs are encouraged to develop local policies for the employees who participate in their programs. Once awarded, grantees will be able to reallocate funding to qualifying employees should their participating candidates change or move to new employers.

  • A grant award is predicated on the assumption that by establishing your staffing needs in the application, all applicants will have a position to offer. However, the legislation states: If the district or intermediate district is unable to hire an eligible recipient as required under subdivision (e), the eligible recipient may serve the years the recipient pledged to serve under this subdivision at another district, intermediate district, or nonpublic school.)

  • Legislated language only specifies a pledge to hire the candidates. Local districts are welcome to establish their own internal policies and to make them clear to program participants.

  • Candidates must pledge to stay in the district for as many fiscal years as they received GYO funds, after earning the credential through the GYO program.

  • While both options are available, paying the institution directly is the most equitable option, as it does not require the employee to incur any up-front costs. In addition, depending on the advice of certified tax professionals, it may avoid tax liability implications for the employee (see below). 

  • As the MDE cannot provide tax-related advice, it recommends that school districts stay in touch with their certified, trained tax professionals or tax preparers to get the final word on tax implications arising from grant reimbursements. This includes understanding how federal tax resources such as IRS Publication 970 relate to their local fiscal policies. 

  • Applying districts can add relevant costs based on the legislated language that says expenses “could include, but are not limited to,” those specified in the application. If a grantee budgets for “other” expenses, those costs must be justified as necessary and not ancillary to the costs outlined in legislation. In the narrative portions of the budget and expenditure reports, the grantee must articulate clearly how “other” funds will be or were expended in alignment with legislative intent, and indicate amounts requested using the corresponding object codes. Again, the primary legislative intent is to provide a “no-cost” pathway to staff who are enrolling in educator preparation programs to earn credentials that meet district needs.  

  • Yes, this guidance has been included in the updated monitoring and guidance document (see Additional Resources). Districts can access the New EPP Partnership Request Form here.

  • The GYO School Staff grants are expressly for reimbursing the allowable costs for initial certification or to add on an endorsement to an existing certification. As such, their allowable costs can be reimbursed for any course of study that includes either a teaching certificate or an endorsement to an existing certificate, and results in that teaching certificate or the endorsement at some point during the course of study. However, a course of study that progresses beyond those purposes is not considered an allowable cost.

  • Yes, districts can reimburse the costs of teacher mentors in much the same ways they can reimburse the costs of substitute teachers who support the candidate’s ability to engage in coursework relevant to their initial certification or additional endorsement, but the following four conditions must be observed:

    • The mentor is directly and specifically supporting the GYO candidate in their ability to fully participate and be successful in coursework (which includes clinical experiences, practicum, internship, or student teaching).
    • The mentor is not otherwise already employed in this same capacity by the district; the mentor’s work to support the GYO candidate is “above and beyond” their regular duties. (In other words, the activities of the mentor do not supplant other originally designated duties.)
    • The costs of the mentor’s time are not already paid for by some other grant source.

    Note that a “mentor” can be a currently employed, supervising teacher assigned to the candidate, but the work of that supervising teacher must also adhere to the conditions described above.

  • Candidates do not have to be currently on payroll as school staff for districts to designate them as future, eligible recipients of reimbursements. Thus, while many districts have candidates in mind who are current employees but who haven’t begun coursework, they may also have in mind recent graduates who are not actually current employees but who will hopefully become one upon completion of coursework. However, any candidate must be an employee during the same fiscal years they receive GYO funding support.

  • Yes, and in fact this is an excellent planning technique, which indicates the district is keeping a close eye on its staffing needs. The intended position that a GYO candidate is to fill need not be open at the time the candidate begins incurring reimbursable expenses under the GYO grant. However, if upon completion of the initial certification or additional endorsement there is no position available, refer to “What happens if there is no position to offer a candidate after program completion?” above.

  • Yes, these are all excellent examples of third-party employees who may have dreams of becoming teachers and who would be eligible as candidates for reimbursements of allowable costs under the grant.

  • Yes, on the condition that those employees will be working toward their School Counselor (NT) endorsement, which is a valid endorsement for reimbursement under the grant. Please note that school counselor licenses are not eligible for funding support via this grant.

  • Yes, districts may reimburse Michigan sales tax through grant funds, so long as they are reimbursing the teacher candidate. Direct payment to the EPP from the district would not be allowed to include sales tax since the district, as a purchaser, qualifies as tax-exempt. While direct payment to the EPP is the preferable approach to reduce the immediate cost burden on the candidate, the MDE understands that this arrangement is not always possible. In these cases, the candidate may be reimbursed in full for eligible expenses, which includes sales tax where applicable.

  • No, that is unfortunately not permissible. The GYO grants can only reimburse for costs incurred by a staff member while they are employed during the grant performance period. Otherwise, the expense would not be considered having been incurred in order to fill district need, since the staff member was not in the district during that district’s calculation of need. 

  • The local grant recipient (district) must ensure that eligible participants receive compensation throughout the process, including student teaching, without any reduction. For existing employees, it would be inappropriate to decrease compensation as they work toward a teaching certificate. If an existing employee is compensated below the daily substitute rate or other district-determined daily rates, the district should determine appropriate compensation during this period. The intent is not to reduce compensation for eligible participants completing program requirements; the participant student teaching must be “held harmless” and continue to be paid the same wages (salary and benefits, if applicable) as they were being paid prior to beginning student teaching. The mechanism for this compensation remains a local decision.

  • While the local district may not directly set compensation for third-party employees, the vendor must understand that program participation should not reduce compensation for participants. Additionally, the district could consider covering the participant’s compensation during student teaching or other program involvement at a daily rate, provided it is not lower than the typical daily compensation for the participant. The participant student teaching must be “held harmless” and continue to be paid the same wages (salary and benefits, if applicable) as they were being paid prior to beginning student teaching. The mechanism for this compensation remains a local decision.

  • Employees in laid-off status would still be considered employees of the district if they possess recall rights to positions if they become available. Their participation in the 27b program – and eligibility for funding support – would be appropriately continued. At the point the district officially terminates employment (no recall rights to any position) or the employee gains employment elsewhere, that employee would then be removed from the district’s 27b GYO programming.

  • If the ISD-employed participant becomes employed by a constituent district (e.g., a paraprofessional employed by the ISD moves to an instructional position at a constituent district), the ISD may choose to permit 27b GYO funds to follow the participant employee, according to their service agreement with their districts. In this case, the ISD would continue to serve as the fiduciary for this participant. However, this arrangement remains a local decision.