Treasury and Education Announce Progress Toward Multi-Year Income Certification System for Student Loan Borrowers in Income-Driven Repayment Plans

The Departments of Treasury and Education announced today that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a framework regarding the requirements for electronically sharing tax data over multiple years for federal student loan borrowers participating in Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans.

The agreement is intended to result in the development of a new digital system at the Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) that will simplify income-driven repayment plans for borrowers. Such a system will allow student loan borrowers to provide consent for the Internal Revenue Service to share certain information with FSA and its loan servicers for a period of at least five years.

Full story of certification system for IDR student loan plans at ed.gov

American Career Institute Borrowers to Receive Automatic Group Relief for Federal Student Loans

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced today plans to grant borrower defense relief for federal student loan borrowers who attended the now-defunct American Career Institute (ACI) in Massachusetts. This move follows the Department’s investigation as well as numerous admissions by the school that it made false and misleading representations to students, misstated job placement rates and employed instructors who were unauthorized to teach under applicable state laws. ED also announced substantial progress with processing borrower defense claims from former Corinthian Colleges Inc. (CCI) students, and that approvals are beginning for borrower defense claims from former ITT Technical Institutes (ITT) students. Additionally, ED announced that a significant number of closed school loan discharges have been approved, particularly for students impacted by the recent closure of ITT.

“With the help of state attorneys general, we’ve cracked down on bad actors that leave students with debt but meaningless credentials. We are especially grateful to Attorney General Healey and her team for investigating and uncovering ACI’s deceptive practices.” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. “We’ve taken important steps to provide borrowers the relief they deserve. This is real progress. And more work remains to ensure that relief continues for borrowers who are deceived by institutions that engage in fraud.”

Full story of ACI receiving relief for federal student loans at ed.gov

Ensuring Education for All Children

For most children, school is their home away from home. There they form friendships, socialize, grow, and learn.  Children and their families rely on teachers, principals, and other school staff to nurture and protect them when away from home.  And families and educators have a shared responsibility to work together and ensure that schools are safe environments for all, including our youngest and most vulnerable children.  We can best meet this responsibility when we have a clear understanding of policies and resources that can support the creation of safe learning environments, and ultimately, children’s development and learning.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) regularly releases resources to help educators, school administrators, and families to protect and ensure equitable access to education for all children, including our most vulnerable student populations.  For example, in the past few years, ED has released several documents that address the needs of immigrant children.  One example is the Newcomer Toolkit ED released in September that provided a one-stop shop for educators who serve newcomer students.  The toolkit both catalogued resources for meeting the unique socio-emotional and academic needs of these students and highlighted the assets that newcomer students bring to the classroom.

Full story of ensuring education for children at ed.gov

Are you ready to be engaged in education?

“With [ESSA], we reaffirm that fundamentally American ideal—that every child, regardless of race, income, background, the zip code where they live, deserves the chance to make of their lives what they will.” — President Barack Obama

On December 10, 2015, President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act, reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), our national education law and longstanding commitment to equal opportunity for all students.  In developing plans and implementing ESSA, stakeholder engagement – including parents – plays a crucial role in improving student outcomes in our schools.

Family engagement is crucial at the national, state and, particularly, local level where you can make a difference in your child’s school and classroom.

Full story of engaging in education with ESSA at ed.gov

A New Year, A Fresh Perspective

Even though we are halfway through the school year, the start of 2017 is the perfect opportunity for a fresh perspective on my classroom. Just like I did with my home over break, I plan to reorganize my room and purge any resources that I no longer need. If I haven’t used it yet at this point in the year, chances are I don’t actually need it and it should go. Of course, I don’t want to throw out anything that could be useful to someone else, so I will give them away to a teacher, tutor, or student that will put them to good use. After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. A freshly cleaned classroom is a terrific landscape for exciting new projects.

By January, the routines and activities that we have in place can become dull and redundant to students, so this is a prime time to shake things up and try something different. I have always been interested in the idea of passion projects, and while I worry that third graders might be too young for it, I also remind myself to never underestimate the power of my students. Even if it doesn’t turn out the way I envision, I’ll never know what can be improved if I don’t try it, and there will be many lessons for all of us to learn as we go through the initiatory process. I will start by helping the kids identify problems they are affected by and brainstorming ways to solve them. No limits either, because I want them to aim high and see where it takes us. I plan to integrate technology, encourage kids to blog about their challenges and successes, and incorporate other pieces of our curriculum to model a project-based learning environment, which has been a goal of mine for a long time.

Full story of starting the new year in the classroom at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Releases Guidance on Civil Rights of Students with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education released three new sets of guidance today to assist the public in understanding how the Department interprets and enforces federal civil rights laws protecting the rights of students with disabilities. These guidance documents clarify the rights of students with disabilities and the responsibilities of educational institutions in ensuring that all students have the opportunity to learn.

The guidance released today includes a parent and educator resource guide; a Dear Colleague letter (DCL) and question and answer document on the use of restraint and seclusion in public schools; and a DCL and question and answer documents on the rights of students with disabilities in public charter schools.

“These guidance documents share information with our full school communities – educators, parents, and students – about important educational rights, including school obligations to identify, evaluate, and serve students with disabilities,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, the Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights. “Vigilant attention to the rights of students with disabilities will help ensure fair treatment for every student and that every student has equal access to educational programs and has an opportunity to experience success.”

Full story of guidance on civil rights of students with disabilities at ed.gov

Education Department Posts Quarterly Student Aid Data Updates and Releases Preliminary Report on the Federal Student Aid Feedback System

Today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) office posted a series of updates to its data center, a collection of key performance data about the federal student aid portfolio. The updates, which continue the Department’s commitment to greater transparency on the federal student loan portfolio and other key financial aid metrics, include three new federally managed portfolio reports by loan status, repayment plan, and delinquency status, and a report about the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program.

Further reflecting the Department’s commitment to transparency and to serving students and borrowers, today the Department released a preliminary report about the FSA feedback system. The feedback system, launched in July 2016 to fulfill one of the primary objectives of President Obama’s Student Aid Bill of Rights, is an online portal that allows federal student aid customers to submit complaints, provide positive feedback, and report allegations of suspicious activity.

Full story of student aid data updates at ed.gov

U.S. Department of Education Announces $3 Million in Pay for Success Grants for Preschool Programs

The U.S. Department of Education announced today more than $3 million in grant awards to eight government organizations for Preschool Pay for Success feasibility pilots that will support innovative funding strategies to expand preschool and improve educational outcomes for 3- and 4- year-olds. These grants will allow states, school districts and other local government agencies to explore whether Pay for Success is a viable financing mechanism for expanding and improving preschool in their communities in the near term.

“Despite the overwhelming evidence that attending high-quality preschool can help level the playing field for our most vulnerable children, we continue to have a huge unmet need in this country,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “We’re pleased that these grantees will work in their communities to make the case for investing in early education and drive expansion of high-quality preschool.”

Full story of Pay for Success and preschool programs at ed.gov

New Analysis Finds Many For-Profits Skirt Federal Funding Limits

New analysis released today by the U.S. Department of Education reveals many for-profit schools would likely exceed the 90/10 federal funding limits if revenue from Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) programs were included in the 90/10 calculation the same way Title IV funds are included. The annual 90/10 report also released today finds 17 for-profit colleges out of compliance with existing federal funding limits.

New estimates by the VA and DOD found that by counting VA’s Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits as federal aid, the number of schools receiving at least 90 percent of their revenue from federal education programs would jump from 17 to nearly 200. The total federal aid dollars administered by schools that rely on federal funds for more than 90 percent of their total revenues would increase from approximately $80 million to an estimated $8 billion. This analysis considers revenue reported by institutions for institutional fiscal years ending during the 2013-14 award year.

Full story of for-profit schools exceeding federal funding limits at ed.gov

Education Department Establishes Enhanced Federal Aid Participation Requirements for ACICS-accredited Colleges

Beginning today, the U.S. Department of Education will inform colleges accredited by the Accrediting Council on Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) of additional operating conditions required for continued participation in the federal student aid programs. These new provisions will apply to ACICS-accredited institutions and follow U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.’s final decision to withdraw federal recognition of the accrediting agency.

Although ACICS is no longer a federally recognized accrediting agency, the Department may provisionally certify ACICS-accredited institutions for continued participation in the federal student aid programs for up to 18 months from the date of the Secretary’s final decision. This 18-month provisional certification period allows institutions to seek accreditation from another federally recognized accrediting agency.& During this period of provisional certification, the Department will require the ACICS-accredited institutions to comply with additional conditions that are designed to protect students and safeguard taxpayer dollars. These conditions include additional monitoring, transparency, oversight and accountability measures. Only ACICS-accredited institutions that agree to these conditions may continue to offer Federal Loans and Pell Grants.

Full story of student aid to ACICS accredited colleges at ed.gov