Higher Education News
Negotiators hope an updated version of "Pay as You Earn" will help borrowers and keep the program from disproportionately benefiting graduate students.
The influence of the John William Pope Center for Higher Education appears to be growing in the Republican-led state.
The current obsession with return on investment is understandable. But there are perfectly good reasons why the "aha!" moment still looms large.
The resolution would make all of the Pell Grant program’s budget discretionary, a step that some groups say could lead to cuts in the maximum grant. Some student-loan benefits could also be vulnerable.
Here’s a question a lot of people may be wondering … Is it really possible to have my federal student loans forgiven or to get help repaying them?
The answer is: Yes! However, there are very specific eligibility requirements for each situation in which you can apply for loan forgiveness or receive help with repayment. Loan forgiveness means that you don’t have to pay back some or all of your loan. You never know what you may be eligible for, so take a look at the options we have listed below. The first two options focus on loan forgiveness programs. The next two options are government programs that may provide based on your service.
- Teacher Loan Forgiveness
If you teach full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years in certain elementary and secondary schools and educational service agencies that serve low-income families, and meet other qualifications, you may be eligible for forgiveness of up to a combined total of $17,500 on certain federal student loans. Get the details about Teacher Loan Forgiveness here.
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
If you work full-time for a government or not-for-profit organization you may qualify for forgiveness of the entire remaining balance of your Direct Loans after you’ve made 120 qualifying payments—that is, 10 years of payments. Learn more about PSLF now! To benefit from PSLF, you should repay your federal student loans under an income-driven repayment plan.
- Military Service
In acknowledgement of your service to our country, there are special benefits and repayment options for your student loans available from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Defense, such as interest rate caps under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, other interest rate relief, and student loan repayment programs. Learn more about federal student loan benefits for members of the U.S. armed forces.
The Segal AmeriCorps Education Award is a post-service benefit received by participants who complete a term of national service in an approved AmeriCorps program—AmeriCorps VISTA, AmeriCorps NCCC, or AmeriCorps State and National. Upon successful completion of the service, members are eligible to receive a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award which can be used to repay qualified student loans.
If the options listed above don’t apply to you, but you need help making your federal student loan payments, contact your loan servicer about the option to
- switch your repayment plan to lower your monthly payments;
- consolidate multiple federal student loan into one loan which may result in a lower monthly payment, or
- apply for deferment or forbearance to temporarily postpone or reduce your payments.
Sandra Vuong is a digital engagement strategist at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.
This time each year, millions of students across the country are preparing to complete Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and other advanced course exams as part of their high school experience and in preparation for the rigors and opportunities of higher education. However, there are hundreds of thousands of students in our nation’s schools who demonstrate the academic readiness to participate in advanced courses, but aren’t enrolling for a number of reasons.
These “missing students” have the skills to achieve at the highest levels, but lack equitable access to a more rigorous curriculum that will prepare them for college and beyond. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to participate in the National Roundtable on Equitable Educational Excellence – a conversation between education, philanthropic and business leaders who will work together during the next three years to identify and enroll 100,000 low-income students and students of color in AP and IB classes across the country.
This is one of several independent commitments made over the last year in support of the goals of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative, aimed at addressing persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensuring that all young people can reach their full potential. In May of 2014, the MBK Task Force, comprised of 18 federal agencies, published a report with key recommendations for the public and private sector, including expanding students’ access to and successful completion of rigorous courses, such as AP, IB and dual enrollment options in high school.
A study by our National Center for Education Statistics found that a rigorous high school curriculum, which included at least one advanced course or exam taken, “was strongly related to their persistence in postsecondary education.” Encouragingly, 90 percent of high school graduates had at least one AP, IB or dual enrollment opportunity in their school. However, our Civil Rights Data Collection, which has surveyed every public school in the nation, found that, despite this widespread access, there are still disparities in the availability and number of advanced courses available to students.
In short, hundreds of thousands of qualified students are not enrolling in the courses for which they are prepared. Black, Hispanic, and Native American students are particularly under-represented in AP, and at many of the most diverse high schools, the advanced courses do not fully reflect the diversity of the student body. Moreover, young men of color lag substantially in their participation when compared with all other students. For example, 35 percent of White males were enrolled in AP classes compared to 17 percent of Black males and 25 percent of Hispanic males.
The time is now to make smart, strategic investments in our young people that will translate into real success.
The students and staff at Arvada High School in Jefferson County, Co., understand the value of such an investment first-hand. Last year, Arvada was recognized by the state of Colorado for achieving over 95 percent growth in the number of students passing AP exams. This accomplishment was made possible through a partnership between Arvada and the Colorado Legacy School Initiative (CLSI), which is funded, in part, by ED’s Investing in Innovation (i3) grant program, and by focusing on increasing the diversity of students who participate in and complete advanced courses.
We are excited to see schools, districts, and organizations across the country collaborating to expand access to college prep courses and make real what is possible in so many of our young people. We applaud the commitment of Equal Opportunity Schools, The College Board, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Tableau Software, and the International Baccalaureate Organization and their new effort to increase advanced course participation.
Students across the country are rising to the challenge of advanced courses and exams to pave a path toward success after high-school. We, as leaders in education, must rise to the challenge of bridging the gap to ensure more students graduate from high school with the tools they need to excel in college and beyond.
John B. King, Jr. is Senior Advisor delegated duties of Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education.
On May 1st First Lady Michelle Obama will celebrate College Signing Day at Wayne State University by addressing more than 2,500 students from over 40 Detroit area high schools. Her Reach Higher Initiative is aimed, in part, at developing a strong college-going culture that normalizes the pursuit of education beyond high school. Encouraging students to “Reach Higher” is as non-partisan as it gets: no new legislation is required, no emergency school board meeting necessary, and the only budget implication might be twenty dollars for a new college t-shirt that proudly displays your alma mater.
While celebrating the fact that America is experiencing the highest high school graduation rates on record, there is a need to simultaneously be concerned with how to move the college enrollment and graduation needle. Presently 40% of adults ages 25-64 in the U.S. have a postsecondary credential. The U.S. now lags behind other industrialized nations in the proportion of citizens with a college degree, and it is estimated that this percentage will need to grow to 60% in order for the U.S. to be first in the world. This means that the country needs to produce 20 million new degree holders above the current projections. Yet, the fastest growing groups of young people in America are among the least likely to attend and graduate from college.
Educators are clear about many of the major barriers to achieving this goal, including the rising cost of attending college, the fact that too many students who leave high school academically ill-prepared for college-level coursework, and the fact that too many students who start college do not complete with high quality degrees. The numbers of working-aged adults, for example, with some college education but no degree (36 million), outnumber those in the same age group with bachelor’s degrees (32.9 million).
Business leaders, elected officials, and social critics all agree about the need to produce a greater number of citizens with a college degree or postsecondary credential. As policy wonks, researchers, and advocates fuss about how to most effectively treat these issues, it is important to also consider the significance of culture—values, norms, socially acceptable behavior, and communal expectations–and the ways in which culture influences college access and success. Cultural norms are not static but progressive and reflect social learning over time. College Signing Day events are significant because communities come together to signal to students the importance of college-going, they transmit expectations to enroll and complete college, and perhaps most importantly, they celebrate all students, not just star athletes and valedictorians.
This Friday May 1st, more than 400 events across the nation have been planned to celebrate College Signing Day. Changing attitudes, expectations, and social behavior among students and communities is an important component of the nation’s degree completion agenda. Communal expectations associated with college-going are especially important for students who will be the first in their families to attend college. Closing attainment gaps and dramatically increasing the number of college graduates in the U.S. will not simply be a matter of finding the right policy solutions or adjusting budget priorities, it will require a progressive cultural shift that makes becoming a college graduate the rule rather than the exception for an increasingly diverse generation of young Americans.
Dr. James T. Minor is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Higher Education Programs in the Office of Postsecondary Education.
It’s time for America’s PreparAthon!
Every spring, parents and educators across the country are encouraged to practice preparedness in the event of an emergency. Now is a great opportunity to make your campus a safer and more resilient one by joining the millions of people across the country participating in National PrepareAthon! Day on April 30.
Schools are an effective channel to reach students and families by conducting preparedness activities and messages. Teachers, faculty, staff, and administrators have the unique ability to make schools and institutions of higher education more prepared to withstand and recover from an emergency.
Twice a year America’s PrepareAthon! promotes national days of action – specifically April 30 and September 30 – to highlight the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies.
America’s PrepareAthon! offers materials to facilitate preparedness for six natural hazards: earthquake, flood, hurricane, tornado, wildfire, and winter storm. The program also offers a variety of customizable promotional materials for these hazards so educators, parents and community leaders can tailor outreach materials to specific audiences.
The time is now to take the next step for preparing your school or institution of higher education for the hazard that might impact your area.
Visit ready.gov/prepare to:
- Take Action: Know your hazards and choose your activities.
- Be Counted: Create your account and register your activities.
- Spread the Word: Download materials to promote your day of action.
Watch Secretary Duncan discuss how your school can get involved:
Gwen Camp is Director of Individual and Community Preparedness for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Amy Banks is a management and program analyst in the Center for School Preparedness at the U.S. Department of Education.
The moral compass of education at Lebanon Valley College, in Pennsylvania, points to the dining hall.
A National Institutes of Health division has drawn criticism for supporting research into approaches like meditation and acupuncture.
Columbia University has cited academic freedom in defending its controversial doctor and TV star. But some say the institution's response hasn't been strong enough.
Everyone wants their student loans forgiven. The perception is that very few qualify. But did you know that there is one broad, employment-based forgiveness program for federal student loans? Let me break down some key points of PSLF to help you figure out if you could qualify.
[ 1 ] Work in Qualifying Employment
First, you need to work for the right employer—a public service employer. What does that mean? Everyone has a different definition. Ours is based on who employs you, not what you do at work. Here’s what qualifies:
- Governmental organizations – Federal, state, local, Tribal
- 501(c)(3) organizations
- A not-for-profit organization that provides specific public services, such as public education or public health
Here’s what doesn’t qualify:
- Labor unions
- Partisan political organizations
- For-profit organizations
[ 2 ] Qualifying Employment Status
If you work at one of these types of organizations—great! Next, you need to work in a qualifying employment status, which means that you must be a full-time employee. For us, full-time means that you meet your employer’s definition or work at least 30 hours per week, whichever is greater.
[ 3 ] Have a Qualifying Loan
A qualifying loan is a Direct Loan. It’s that simple. Of course, it’s the government, so nothing is actually that simple. There are (or were) three big federal student loan programs:
- The Direct Loan Program
- The Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program, and
- The Federal Perkins Loan Program.
If you’re not sure which loan program, I can’t blame you—I had 20 loans when I finished graduate school! You can log in to My Federal Student Aid to determine which program you borrowed from. Here’s a tip: if you see “Direct” in the name, it’s a Direct Loan. Otherwise, it’s not.
Don’t have a Direct Loan? Don’t despair! You can consolidate your federal student loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan and qualify for PSLF. Not having a Direct Loan is the biggest reason that borrowers aren’t on track for PSLF, so do your homework. If you need to consolidate, check the box in the application that says that you’re consolidating for the purposes of loan forgiveness. It will make your life easier.
[ 4 ] Have a Qualifying Repayment Plan
Next, you need a qualifying repayment plan. All of the “income-driven repayment plans” qualify. So does the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan, but if you’re on that plan, you should switch to an income-driven repayment plan right now, or you will have little or nothing to forgive after you meet all of the criteria.
If you’re consolidating, be sure to apply for an income-driven repayment plan because the Standard Repayment Plan for Direct Consolidation Loans almost never qualifies.
You can apply for an income-driven repayment plan on StudentLoans.gov.
[ 5 ] Make 120 Qualifying Payments
Lastly, you need to make qualifying payments—120 of them. A qualifying payment is exactly what you think it is. You get a bill. It has an “amount due” and a “due date”. Make your full payment by the due date (or up to 15 days later), and the payment qualifies. If you make a payment when you’re not required to—say, because, you’re in a deferment or you paid your student loan well in advance—then it doesn’t count. The best way to set yourself up for success is to sign up for automatic payments with your servicer.
Your payments do not need to be consecutive. So, if you make qualifying payments, stop, and then start again, you don’t start over.
I’m sorry to have to mention a random date, but a payment only qualifies if it was made after October 1, 2007, so nobody can qualify until 2017 at the earliest.
Okay, so do I qualify?
Now, let’s put it all together. For any payment to count toward PSLF, you need to meet all of the criteria when you make each payment. That means you need to be working for a qualifying employer on a full-time basis when you make a qualifying payment under a qualifying repayment plan on a Direct Loan.
I know all of you are still thinking—“that’s great, but do I qualify?” Here’s how you find out. Download this form. Fill it out. Have your employer certify it. Send it to FedLoan Servicing (one of our federal student loan servicers). FedLoan Servicing will figure this all out and let you know whether your employment qualifies, and how many qualifying payments you’ve made.
Submit the form early and often. We recommend once per year or when you change jobs. Why? Because it means that you won’t have to submit 10 years’ worth of forms when you ultimately want to apply for forgiveness. It also means that you can apply for forgiveness with confidence.
One more piece of good news: PSLF is tax-free.
Ian Foss has worked as a program specialist for the Department of Education since 2010. He’s scheduled to be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness on October 6, 2021, if all goes according to plan.
As protests continue over the death of a black man injured while in police custody, academics examine their own community involvement.
In a new effort to classify colleges, the Brookings Institution focuses on three metrics: midcareer earnings, student-loan repayment, and "occupational earnings power."
State financial aid totals $11 billion annually, but restrictions keep it from serving returning and part-time learners, who now constitute a majority.
Student leaders descend on Washington to discuss a tax credit and shore up the crumbling image of campus social groups.
Two colleges’ recent legal victories highlight how hard it is for accused students to prove that bias caused their colleges to mistreat them.
State and federal officials have offered help to the students, who wonder about transferring to other colleges.
A formal finding that the university violated principles of academic freedom sets the stage for a censure vote at the association’s conference in June.