U.S. Department of Education sent this bulletin at 09/30/2022 10:54 AM EDT
September 30, 2022
FEDERAL STUDENT AID
The 2023-24 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) will launch on October 1 at 1:00 a.m. Eastern Time. New and returning students who plan to attend college between July 1, 2023, and June 30, 2024, should complete the FAFSA form as soon as possible. The Department provides more than $112 million in grants, loans, and work-study funding annually to help students pay for higher education. Many state governments, postsecondary institutions, and private organizations also use FAFSA information to determine their financial aid. To access these funds, students must complete the FAFSA form (see FAFSA process infographic).
To assist students and families in the process, the Department’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) office has been sharing helpful tips @FAFSA, including “7 Things You Need Before Filling Out the FAFSA Form,” “8 Steps to Completing the FAFSA Form,” and “15 Myths We’re Busting About the FAFSA Process.”
Students and parents may complete the FAFSA form online at FAFSA.gov.
Also, last week, the White House released state-by-state data on how President Biden’s plan for student debt relief will benefit borrowers across the country. This analysis includes the estimated number of individuals eligible for at least $10,000 of relief, as well as the estimated number of Pell Grant recipients eligible for up to $20,000 of relief. In the coming weeks, the Department will release more details on how individuals can apply for the relief (see latest information and FAQs and Secretary Cardona’s “3 Things to Know” video).
Meanwhile, the deadline for borrowers to take advantage of temporary changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program is fast approaching. These changes allow borrowers to receive credit for past periods of repayment that would not otherwise quality for PSLF. Individuals must consolidate any non-federal loans and submit an application by October 31. (Note: From the recent PSLF Day of Action for Servicemembers and Veterans, see the Deputy Secretary of Defense’s message and House Committee on Veterans Affairs Chair’s video).
Last week, in advance of the United Nations’ General Assembly, Secretary Cardona participated in the Transforming Education Summit. “Education is the foundation for peace, security, and global development,” he said in a tweet. “Now is the time to #RaisetheBar, strengthen ties within our countries & across the world, and rededicate ourselves to achieving our sustainable development goals.”
Also last week, the Secretary joined Vice President Harris in South Carolina, for a conversation with student leaders at Claflin University — covering, among other topics, mental health, entrepreneurship, and access to capital — and remarks at South Carolina State University’s Fall Convocation highlighting the importance of National Voter Registration Day. (Note: The Secretary recorded videos on both voting and celebrating Constitution Day from Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.)
Moreover, Secretary Cardona delivered remarks at the National HBCU Week Conference. Over 2,000 in-person attendees and 1,500 virtual attendees, including presidents and chancellors of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), participated in this year’s event — the first in-person conference since 2019. Over four days, they engaged with key leaders, including members of the President’s Cabinet, officials from more than 25 federal agencies, private sector executives, and financial aid experts (video).
Then, this week, the Secretary joined U.S. Senator Tom Carper in Delaware, for a tour of Eisenberg Elementary School’s wellness center and outdoor classroom and roundtable discussion on mental health services with federal, state, and local leaders, community advocates, and school representatives (video) and a tour of Delaware State University’s new Riverfront Campus and briefing by President Tony Allen.
Notably, the Department also issued a comprehensive ICYMI and Twitter capture of Secretary Cardona’s “Road to Success Back to School Bus Tour” and posted the Secretary’s remarks at the University of Tennessee, the Secretary’s video with Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff from Allentown, Pennsylvania, and a video of happy students from 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools honoree Glendora Elementary School in New Jersey.
COMPETITIVE GRANT AWARDS
Before the end of the federal fiscal year (September 30), the Department awarded a significant number of competitive grant awards.
For example, on September 21, the Department’s Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) announced new five-year grant awards for the Subminimum Wage to Competitive Integrated Employment (SWTCIE) demonstration project to 14 state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies. Specifically, using innovative approaches, state agencies will assist job seekers with disabilities to secure high-quality jobs for real pay in green technology, the transportation industry, and the arts, in which they will work alongside their non-disabled peers at comparable wages. Every project embraces collaborative efforts among multiple partners and stakeholders, including state and local providers, public and private employees, and advocates.
That same day, the agency announced Project School Emergency Response to Violence (SERV) grants for two additional Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that experienced bomb threats earlier this year. Coppin State University in Baltimore and Fisk University in Nashville were awarded $130,000 and $60,000, respectively. They will use funding to support student trauma recovery related to the threats by hiring full-time trauma specialists/counselors, increasing full-time security officer coverage, and offering additional mental health services.
Also, on September 27, the agency announced new three-year investments under the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program. For this year’s competition, the agency directed funding to projects designed to support the workforce through high-quality, comprehensive teacher preparation programs, including those with a good track record of recruiting and placing under-represented candidates. The agency also prioritized projects designed to help educators create more inclusive and equitable learning to meet students’ social, emotional, and academic needs.
Separately, via regional press calls (1, 2, 3, and 4), the agency announced nearly $1 billion in formula grant awards under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA). States must award these funds competitively to high-need school districts. Stronger Connections grants will help schools provide all students with safe and supportive learning opportunities and environments that are critical for their success. (Note: Earlier, Secretary Cardona sent a Dear Colleague Letter to Chief State School Officers outlining principles that states are strongly encouraged to consider when designing competitive grant competitions and providing districts with direction for how they use these funds.)
The Department invites governors or their designees to nominate up to two classified school employees for the annual Recognizing Inspiring School Employee (RISE) Award by November 1. Those working in public or private PK-12 schools as paraprofessionals or in clerical and administrative services, transportation services, food and nutrition services, custodial and maintenance services, security services, health and student services, technical services, and skilled trades are eligible for this recognition. The Secretary will ultimately select one national honoree from among all the state nominees (blog post).
On September 28, during the National Digital Equity Summit hosted at the Department, the Office of Educational Technology (OET) released “Advancing Digital Equity for All: Community-Based Recommendations for Developing Effective Digital Equity Plans to Close the Digital Divide and Enable Technology-Empowered Learning.” This resource provides suggestions for equitable broadband adoption to support leaders crafting digital equity plans, an aspiration that became critical for many schools and families during the pandemic. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) passed earlier this year supports that goal, allocating $2.75 billion under the Digital Equity Act to ensure all individuals and communities may reap the full benefits of the digital economy. The resource also spotlights existing barriers across availability, affordability, and adoption and shares examples of promising strategies to overcome these barriers. Much of the content was gathered through the Digital Equity Education Roundtables (DEER) Initiative launched by OET in the spring — conversations with leaders from community-based organizations, as well as families and students furthest from digital opportunities, to learn more about the obstacles faced by learner communities and promising solutions for increasing access to technology.
ODDS AND ENDS
- In a video, Secretary Cardona pledged “We’re stepping up to make sure that the students and all of the people of Puerto Rico are not being left behind” in the wake of Hurricane Fiona.
- The Department is also tracking Hurricane Ian’s path and will reach out to impacted state agencies and postsecondary institutions as lifelines are re-established.
- On the eve of the White House Summit on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, the Administration issued a national strategy to meet the goal of ending hunger and increasing healthy eating and physical activity by 2030 — so fewer Americans experience diet-related diseases, while reducing other health disparities.
- The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) announced the establishment of three research networks, funded through the American Rescue Plan (ARP), to address learning setbacks brought on by the pandemic.
- Also, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released the latest round of findings from the School Pulse Panel, examining community partnerships, technology/digital literacy, and hiring processes.
- In a guest blog post published by the National League of Cities (NLC), the Secretary outlines “5 Ways Cities Can Gear Up for Back to School Season.”
- Two new NCES reports delve into the experiences and outcomes of 2015-16 bachelor’s degree earners in 2020.
- Acknowledging National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, the Department launched the Future Finder Challenge, a $1 million competition to reimagine career navigation for adult learners.
- The Department appreciates the growing importance of addressing cybersecurity in both K-12 and higher education settings and has compiled a list of resources for each.
- Visit Vote.gov to register to vote or check your registration status — registration deadlines are nearing in many states!
QUOTE TO NOTE
“In moments of great crisis, our nation has almost every time turned to our young leaders to help guide us forward. Just remember, John Lewis was only 23 when he spoke during the March on Washington…. Diane Nash was just 21 when she led the Nashville sit-ins to protest racial segregation. And the great Jim Clyburn was in his early 20s when he was jailed for protesting for civil rights…. So, students, we turn to you once again. Your nation turns to you. Because, to move America forward, we need you. We need your passion, your purpose, and your excellence. We need your leadership…to grow the economy, to protect our planet, to drive innovation, and to fight for equity and justice.”
— Vice President Kamala Harris (9/20/22), from remarks delivered at South Carolina State University’s Fall Convocation
On Tuesdays in October, from 4 to 5:15 p.m. ET, please join the Department for a Mental Health Learning Series. This three-part webinar event will feature national experts on the youth mental health crisis, elevate how states and districts are implementing promising practices, and share federal resources available to support student mental health. Register today for “Evidence in Action: How States and Districts Can Promote Mental Health” on October 4, “The Importance of Trauma-Informed Pedagogy and Student Identity in Mental Health” on October 11, and “Reducing Stigma and Improving Access to Mental Health Services” on October 25.
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