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Educator Recruitment and Retention Program

The Educator Recruitment and Retention (ERR) program was created by SB21-185 to provide support to members of the armed forces and nonmilitary-affiliated educator candidates in pursuing a career as an educator and to provide support to local education providers to recruit, select, train, and retain highly qualified educators across the state. Under this program, qualified program applicants can apply for up to $10,000 in one-time financial assistance toward their educator preparation program costs if they commit to teaching in a shortage area (see FAQs for list) for three years. 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 then through three different pathways:

  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 and is working toward a baccalaureate degree as required to pursue a professional teaching license; or
  3. Has secured a position as a CTE instructor in a rural or small rural district and meets state CTE requirements

this is a photo of two graduates


  • The report on implementation of the ERR program in 2021-22 is now available. Click this link to access a copy of the report.
  • The 2022-2023 application is open. For instructions on accessing and completing the application, download the application guidance document here.
  • Please note that it can take up to 60 days to receive a decision on your application. Applications are reviewed in the order they are received. The COOL system will notify you when the status of your application changes. Official notices are sent separately via email in once monthly batches.
  • Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs): click here to access guidance specific to your role in the award process.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the eligible shortage areas?
    • Visit this webpage to view the list of eligible shortage areas.
  • 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. 
  • How does someone apply?
    • Download the application guidance document linked in the blue news box above. This guidance contains a link for accessing the application, as well as guidance on how to complete the application.
  • Are non-public (private) school educators eligible?
    • No. The 3-year commitment must be served in a 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.
  • What documentation is needed?
    • Proof of relevant employment
    • Proof of program enrollment
    • Proof of program cost/tuition charged
  • How do I demonstrate that I will be teaching in a shortage area if I'm currently a paraprofessional?
    • The endorsement area you are completing must be in a shortage area or you must be planning to teach in a rural or small rural district. If you are planning to teach in a rural or small rural district, have someone from Human Resources complete and sign this Intent to Hire form and submit it with your application.
  • 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 60 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?
  • Does my current year teaching count toward the three-year commitment?
    • This depends on when you receive your award. If you receive your award toward the end of the school year (all awardees in the 2021-22 school year will receive awards toward the end of the school year), then year one of your three-year commitment starts with the next school year (2022-23 for those receiving awards in 2021-22). If you receive your award in the summer or early fall, then the current year can count.
  • 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.