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Educator Recruitment and Retention Program

The Educator Recruitment and Retention (ERR) program was created to provide qualified program applicants with up to $10,000 in one-time financial assistance toward their educator preparation program costs. Recipients must commit to teaching in a shortage area for three years in a Colorado public school. Applicants can meet eligibility criteria for the program by first being enrolled in a Colorado-approved traditional or alternative educator preparation program (EPP) (or institute of higher education for applicants pursuing a CTE credential)  and meeting one of the criteria below:

  1. Has an earned bachelor’s or higher degree from a regionally accredited college or university and has secured employment as an alternative teacher or temporary educator eligibility (TEE) educator in a shortage area; or
  2. Is currently employed as a paraprofessional in a school district, charter school or BOCES 
  3. Has secured a position as a CTE instructor in a rural or small rural district and meets state CTE requirements

Please note that all employment referenced in the above list must be in a Colorado public school.

this is a photo of two graduates


  • The 2023-24 application is currently closed and CDE is processing awards approved in the first application window. The application will be open during the following windows:
    • July 1-August 30
    • October 1-November 15
    • January 3-February 15
  • Note about approval message sent by COOL system: If your ERR application was recently approved in the COOL system, you may have received an automated message notifying you of the approval and directing you to print a certificate. Please ignore the part of the message about printing a certificate. It is an automated message that is designed for license applications. There is no certificate to print related to your ERR award. You will receive an email from the program manager after the applicable application window (see below) closes confirming the amount and detailing next steps.
  • NEW for the 2023-24 application: program cost will be documented via the Program Cost Demonstration Form only. This form must be completed and signed by the applicant and a representative of the EPP.
  • The application guidance document has been updated for 2023-24 and can be accessed here.
  • Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs): click here to access guidance specific to your role in the award process (updated June 2023).
  • The report on implementation of the ERR program in 2021-22 is now available. Click this link to access a copy of the report.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I access the application?
    • The application is accessed via your COOL account. For instructions on accessing and completing the application, download the application guidance document here.
  • How will I be notified when my application is approved?
    • Applications are reviewed in the order they are received. The COOL system will notify you when the status of your application changes. 
  • What are the eligible shortage areas?
    • Visit this webpage to view the list of eligible shortage areas.
  • How do I know if the school where I am teaching is an eligible public school?
    • To be considered an eligible public school, the school must be listed as a public school on the Colorado school list, which can be found here.
  • Which semesters can be covered by the program?
    • Applicants can apply for funds to cover any semester during the application window, as well as any future semesters that will be required to complete the program. Documentation of the amount of these costs must be submitted with the application. CDE will issue payment to the educator preparation program as costs are incurred and invoiced by the educator preparation program. Semesters prior to the application window in which the applicant is applying cannot be covered.
  • I am a paraprofessional currently completing courses at a community college and plan to transfer to a 4-year institution to complete my bachelor's degree. Am I eligible?
    • The program cannot cover your tuition costs at the community college because they are not an approved educator preparation program. However, you can apply once you begin incurring tuition charges at the 4-year institution.
  • Does the applicant or the preparation program submit the application?
    • The applicant will submit the application. 
  • Are non-public (private) school educators eligible?
    • No. The 3-year commitment must be served in a Colorado public school. 
  • What can funds be used to cover?
    • Funds can only be used to cover the program expenses associated with completing the Colorado-approved educator preparation program or institute of higher education courses needed for a professional CTE credential. Funds will be paid directly to the educator preparation program.
  • My tuition has already been covered by another grant or scholarship. Am I eligible?
    • No. The program can only cover tuition costs that are not already paid by grants or scholarships.
  • My tuition has not been covered by grants or scholarships but I did take out loans or my employing district paid my program fees. Am I eligible?
    • Yes. If you paid your tuition via loans, your program will issue a refund to you after they receive payment from CDE. If your employing school district paid your program fees, they will receive the refund from your program.
  • Are the funds paid directly to program participants?
    • No. Funds are paid directly to the educator preparation program or institute of higher education.
  • When will I receive a decision on my application?
    • You will hear from CDE within 30 days of receipt of your application. You may be asked to submit missing information or documentation. So please monitor your email closely and respond to CDE as soon as possible to ensure timely processing of your application.
  • What happens if the program participant does not complete the three years of teaching in a shortage area?
    • The program participant must return the funds received to CDE.
  • Can the three-year commitment be satisfied by teaching in more than one district?
    • Yes. As long as the total years spent teaching in any shortage area is three years, the requirement is met. This could mean teaching the same subject in different districts or teaching in different rural districts for three years. Residency years also count toward this requirement.
  • Where can I find a list of rural districts?
  • When does the 3-year commitment start?
    • The 3-year commitment starts the year in which you are awarded the financial assistance. The table below illustrates examples of this timeline for various cohorts of awardees. If you have specific questions about the timing of your commitment, please e-mail CDE.
      • This table lists the start and end dates for various awardees 3-year commitment.
        ​Year Funds Received Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
        2022-23 2022-23 2023-24 2024-25
        2023-24 2023-24 2024-25 2025-26
        2024-25 2024-25 2025-26 2026-27
        2025-26 2025-26 2026-27 2027-28


  • How does an applicant know if they meet CTE requirements?
    • Applicants can meet CTE requirements in one of two ways:
      • as outlined in 23-60-304(3)(a) and section 4.04 of 1 CCR 301-37; or
      • having the equivalent of eighteen (18) semester hours of postsecondary enrollment and six (6) years of military experience that are applicable to a CTE credential. 

If you have questions about this program, e-mail CDE.