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Discounts, Rewards and Grants: Easing Teachers' Back-to-School Costs

Discounts, Rewards and Grants: Easing Teachers' Back-to-School Costs
Christina Hammarberg

Preparing for the school year ahead can be costly, but parents aren't the only one feeling the financial burn. The National School Supply and Equipment Association (NSSEA) reported that K-12 public school teachers in the United States spent $3.2 billion on classroom and other educational supplies over the 2012-2013 school year; $1.6 billion of that figure was spent out-of-pocket.

The report states that public school teachers spent a total average of $485 of their own money on teacher discounts suppliesmaterials for their classrooms, those materials included instructional materials and general school supplies. The report also revealed that a growing number of parents are not required by their school districts to buy supplies for their child, meaning the burden falls more heavily on the teachers.

Finding a Discount

The good news is, most major retailers offer discounts for teachers and educators, at no extra cost. Most retailers and business simply require a valid school ID or current pay stub, though some do request further proof of school employment. Teach For America gives a fairly comprehensive list of teacher and educator discounts by state, including discounts books, clothing, media, supplies and travel. The site also covers scholarship and grant opportunities by state, such as the Kids in Need Teacher Grants program, which awards more than 200 qualifying educators grants of up to $500 each year to obtain the supplies they need. We also created a list of other exclusive savings just for teachers.

Reward Programs

Participating in a rewards program is an optimal choice for teachers and educators because, in addition to providing a discount on supply purchases, these programs allow teachers to accrue points which can then be used in exchange for free or discounted supplies and other reward benefits.

There are many great reward programs out there that are just for teachers, such as:

  • The Office Depot Star Teacher Program offers teachers and educators 10 rewards points for every $1 spent on ink, toner, paper and copy/print/ship services. Points are also earned on recycled supplies. The more money spent on qualifying purchases per quarter, the greater the rewards. Members also have access to exclusive special events and sales throughout the year.
  • OfficeMax has a MaxPerks Rewards Program that offers teachers $10 in rewards for every Teacher discounts bn$75 spent on qualifying purchases, and $2 in rewards for each ink or toner cartridge recycled.
  • Staples' Teacher Rewards Program also offers members five percent back in rewards, 10 percent back in rewards on teaching and art supplies, ink recycling rewards, free shipping on Staples.com and more. This program has two tiers; teachers that spend $1,000 or more annually receive additional rewards, including access to exclusive bonus events.
  • The Barnes & Noble Educator Program offers up to 20 percent off publisher's list prices on purchases for classroom use (this grows to 25 percent during Educator Appreciation Days).

Donors Choose

Even with a plethora of discounts, not every teacher is able to provide all of the supplies necessary for her students throughout the year. Donors Choose [http://www.donorschoose.org/] is an online charity that enables willing donors from anywhere in the world to help fund projects in K-12 public schools in all 50 states. Teachers and educators in need create and post the project they need assistance with, along with the total amount they'd like to raise. $1 is the minimum donation, but all gifts are tax-deductible.

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