Higher Education News
President’s Education Awards Program (PEAP): A Celebration of Student Achievement And Hard Work in the Classroom!
President’s Education Awards Program (PEAP) student recipients are selected annually by their school principal. This year, PEAP provided individual recognition to nearly 3 million graduates (at the elementary, middle and high school level) across the nation at more than 30,000 public, private and military schools from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Outlying Areas: American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Students received a certificate signed by President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Schools also received letters signed by the President and the Secretary.
The Department is encouraging every school across the country to be on the lookout for 2017-18 school year materials from its program partners: the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) and the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). The materials outline how to order certificates to awards before the end of the school year. Certificates are FREE, and there is no limit.
Please review the list at https://www.ed.gov/presedaward/to see if your school currently participates. If not, contact your local school/principal and urge them to participate for the upcoming school year.
PEAP was founded in 1983. Every year since then, the program has provided principals with the opportunity to recognize students who meet high standards of academic excellence, as well as those who have given their best effort, often overcoming obstacles in their learning. Eligible graduating K-12 students are selected by their principal under two categories.
- The President’s Award for Educational Excellence – This award recognizes academic success in the classroom. To be eligible, students must meet a few academic requirements, including a high grade point average or other school-set criteria and a choice of either state test performance or teacher recommendations.
- The President’s Award for Educational Achievement – This award recognizes students that show outstanding educational growth, improvement, commitment, or intellectual development in their subjects but do not meet the academic criteria above. Its purpose is to encourage and reward students who give their best effort, often in the face of special obstacles, based on criteria developed at each school.
Recent School Celebrations –
Germantown Elementary School in Maryland serves a diverse student population of about 300 from pre-K through fifth- grade. I had the honor of joining them to congratulate 32 amazing students who were being presented with PEAP certificates during the school’s fifth-grade promotion ceremony.
Surrounded by excited students and families, I joined Principal Amy Bryant and others school and district leaders to laud the students’ academic success and implore them to continue setting a positive example. As a former student who had returned to offer words of inspiration emphasized, “More homework will come [in middle school] — and along with that is more responsibility.”
Benjamin Stoddert Elementary School in northwest Washington, DC, serves students from the surrounding neighborhoods, a number of out-of-boundary students from throughout the District and Bolling Air Force Base as well as students from over 20 countries, including the embassies of China, France and Russia. During my visit, I had the chance to celebrate with six soon-to-be-middle school students as they were presented with PEAP certificates.
Along with Principal Donald Bryant and others dignitaries, I encouraged these students to be the light in all situations, help others and let their greatness rub off.
The program also receives great feedback throughout the year. “Please know that the President’s Awards were given a great deal of emphasis at our graduation ceremony, as they are considered highly prestigious,” Prinicpal JoAnn Scott of South Bay Elementary School in West Babylon, New York, noted in a recent message. “Both Mr. Trump’s and Mrs. DeVos’ letters were read aloud at the ceremony, and copies of both letters were given to all of the award recipients, along with their certificates and [purchased] pins.” Notably, South Bay is also a 2007 National Blue Ribbon School, another of the Department’s Recognition Programs.
Frances Hopkins is director of the President’s Education Awards Program at the U.S. Department of Education.
The reality of paying for college is that many families find themselves struggling to cover the entire college bill, despite having already filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and receiving federal, state, and school-based financial aid and scholarships. If you find yourself in this position, here are some ideas to consider and places to look to help fill the gap between what your financial aid covers and what you owe your school.
TIP: The financial aid office at your school is an excellent resource. If you didn’t get enough financial aid, contact your school’s financial aid office. They can help you explore your options.
You should make it a routine to regularly search and apply for scholarships. You can ask the financial aid office or your academic advisor about school-specific or departmental (major-specific) scholarships. You should also look for scholarships that are local to where you graduated from high school or live; look for community, religious and fraternal organizations. You may also consider businesses in your community or those that employ your parent(s).
Then, look for scholarship resources that are available from your state government or from statewide organizations with which you may have been involved or companies in your state that are in the field for which you plan to study.
National scholarships can be more competitive, but don’t let that keep you from applying. Get organized and make a plan to regularly search for scholarships and write scholarship essays. Prioritize local applications first and make sure you meet all deadlines!
Just be careful. With scholarship opportunities, it’s wise to be cautious of fraud. If you are ever concerned about the legitimacy of a scholarship opportunity, contact your school’s financial aid office.
- Part-Time Work
You may have been awarded Federal Work-Study, which at most schools requires you to find the work-study position yourself. Work-study can help you cover some costs throughout the semester since these funds are paid as you earn them. And remember, these funds are typically paid directly to you through a paycheck, so if you still owe an amount to your school, you would need to take those funds back to the school to pay your bill.
If you were not awarded work-study funds, most schools have other part-time, on-campus positions that can help pay for school. Working part-time on campus can be beneficial to your educational experience. Be cautious, though, of working too many hours if you can avoid it. Ask your financial aid office or career services office how to apply for on-campus positions.
- Payment Plans
Your school’s billing office, sometimes referred to as the bursar’s office, cashier’s office, or student accounts office, may have payment plans available to help you spread the remaining costs you owe the school over several payments throughout a semester. The payment plan can help you budget the payments rather than paying in one lump sum, possibly helping you avoid costly late fees.
- Special Circumstances Reevaluation
Sometimes a family’s finances are not accurately reflected on the FAFSA form because of changes that have occurred, such as job loss/reduction, divorce or separation, or other special circumstances. This may be even more common now that you can file the FAFSA form early and with tax information that can be two years old by the time enrollment begins.
Schools are not required to consider special circumstances, but those that do have a process by which you can petition for a reevaluation of the information on your FAFSA form. This process will likely require you to submit additional documentation to your school’s financial aid office. If warranted, the financial aid office can then recalculate your eligibility, possibly resulting in a change to your financial aid offer.
- Additional Federal Student Loans
If you’ve exhausted all of your free and earned money options and still need additional funds to help you pay for school, contact your school’s financial aid office to find out if you’re eligible for additional federal student loans. Just remember to borrow only what you need to pay your educational expenses.
Federal Direct PLUS Loans: If you are a dependent student and still need more money, your parent can apply for a Direct PLUS Loan. Most schools use the application on StudentLoans.gov, but others may have their own application. The PLUS loan application process does include a credit check. If your parent is not approved, he or she may still be able to receive a Direct PLUS Loan by obtaining an endorser (cosigner) or documenting extenuating circumstances. If a parent borrower is unable to secure a PLUS loan, the student may be eligible for additional unsubsidized student loans of up to $5,000 depending upon his or her year in school.
- Aid Advances, School-Based Loans, or Emergency Aid
Sometimes you may have college-related costs, such as housing costs or other living expenses, before your financial aid is disbursed to you (or remaining after you have received all of your financial aid). Your school may offer an option to advance your financial aid, offer a school-based loan program, or have an emergency aid procedure.
Several schools now offer emergency aid opportunities if you experience unexpected expenses or challenges that are making it difficult for you to complete the semester. Ask your financial aid office if they offer these options and always make sure you are aware of the terms and conditions (such as interest rates or repayment terms) of your agreement.
- Private or Alternative Loans
Some private institutions offer education loans that do not require the FAFSA form. While we recommend federal aid first, we realize it does not always cover the cost, especially for pricier schools. Private loans will almost always require a cosigner and may have higher fees or interest rates depending on your credit.
I encourage you to first ask your financial aid office if they have a list of lenders for you to consider, but not all schools maintain such a list. If not, you can search for lenders on your own, but compare products before making your choice: look at interest rates, fees, repayment terms, creditworthiness requirements, satisfactory academic progress requirements, etc. Students and parents are free to choose whichever lender best fits their needs—even if it is not on a school’s preferred lender list.
Before making any final decisions on how to fill the gap between your aid and your costs, it is always recommended that you meet with a representative in your financial aid office to determine what campus resources might be available before going out on your own. It might also be possible that you still have the time to change some of your choices before the semester begins: Can you change the type of meal plan you chose? The type of housing? The number of classes in which you are enrolled? Check with campus officials to see if you still have time to select a different, more affordable option.
Justin Chase Brown is the Director of Scholarships and Financial Aid at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The post 7 Options to Consider if You Didn’t Receive Enough Financial Aid appeared first on ED.gov Blog.