Student Loan Changes
Symposium: Community Colleges
Options for Parents
Quote to Note
Following her international visits to Lima, Peru, for the fourth Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Education Ministerial Meeting (http://www.apec2008.org.pe/medianews.aspx?id=116), and Mexico City, where she met with Ministry of Education officials, toured a primary school, and attended a reception hosted by the U.S. Ambassador in honor of Teacher's Day (http://mexico.usembassy.gov/eng/releases/
ep080613education.html), Secretary Spellings participated in several events in San Diego focused on education innovation. The highlight of the trip was a tour of the Gary and Jerri-Ann Jacobs High Tech High School, which is challenging students with rigorous classwork in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). She also hosted the last of four education technology roundtables (held across the nation over the previous 14 months) and delivered the keynote address at the Biotechnology Institute's Education Awards Banquet. "Standards and measurement are helping us map what you might call our country's 'academic genome,'" she explained at the awards banquet. "Now that we're using data to diagnose problems, we're not only solving them, we're also building an arsenal of proven solutions, for educators to share and replicate. As innovation and technology transform the way we live, work, and play, schools must become flexible and agile enough to meet employers'and students'changing needs. To accomplish this goal, we must begin tailoring instruction and using time in more innovative ways, so that every child gets the extra help they need when they need it, as well as the rigorous coursework they need and deserve. And, we must dramatically improve the way we use and share information [at all levels]." For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/06/06172008a.html.
On June 10, Secretary Spellings announced the approval of two additional high-quality, growth-based accountability models. Michigan is immediately approved to use its model for the 2007-08 school year. Missouri's model is approved on the condition that the state adopt a uniform minimum group size for all subgroups, including limited English proficient and special education students. Growth models allow states to receive credit for improving individual students' performance over time but retain the No Child Left Behind principles of annual assessment, disaggregation of data, and grade-level proficiency for all students by 2014. To date, 11 states have been approved to implement their models; Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, and Tennessee already use growth models for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) purposes. The growth model pilot program was established by the Secretary in November 2005but capped at 10 states. In December 2007, based on the promising results of the pilot, the Secretary opened the program to all eligible states. To ensure both a fair and transparent selection of growth models, the Department utilized a peer review process. A panel of nationally recognized experts reviewed and made recommendations on the states' proposals. This fall, the Department intends to invite more proposals, for implementation in the 2008-09 school year. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/account/growthmodel/.
Speaking of pilots, the agency has invited states to participate in a supplemental educational services (SES) pilot program for the 2008-09 school year. This ongoing pilot allows school districts to reverse the order in which public school choice and SES are offered to eligible students in schools in the first year of improvement, offering SES a year earlier than usual. Or, districts can choose to offer both choice and SES to eligible students during that first year of improvement. To be eligible to participate, states must meet several core requirements. Also, in exchange for this flexibility, districts must agree to a set of conditions to ensure quality SES implementation. The set deadline for state applications is July 2. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/nclb/choice/help/ses/08agreements.html.
Meanwhile, in a recent op-ed picked up nationwide, the Secretary seeks to "set the record straight about how and why Reading First came about and what the program means to the 1.6 million students it serves." For more information, please go to http://www.sltrib.com/Opinion/ci_9512733.
Student Loan Changes
The first of July is an important date for federal student loans, when interest rates and other terms change. This year, besides the drop in costs for many loans, borrowers in public service professions can take a major step toward student loan forgiveness. Among the July 1 changes:
Interest Rate Drop. The fixed interest rate for new, subsidized Stafford loans will drop from 6.8% to 6.0% for undergraduates. Subsidized Stafford loans go primarily to students with family incomes under $80,000, and the government pays the interest while the student is in school (or in deferment). Also, the origination fees for all Stafford loans (subsidized and unsubsidized, undergraduate and graduate) will drop by half a percentage point, to 2% of the amount borrowed.
More Loans Available. Undergraduates can borrow an additional $2,000 each year in unsubsidized Stafford loans at a fixed rate of 6.8%. Therefore, the total amount of Stafford loans (including subsidized and unsubsidized) that undergraduates can borrow increases to $31,000 for dependent students and $57,500 for independent students. Moreover, students who are interested in teaching and have good grades can receive another $4,000 each year for up to four years via the TEACH program. (TEACH grants become unsubsidized Stafford loans if students do not fulfill a teaching obligation.)
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). PSLF is a new federal program that will forgive remaining federal student loan debt after 10 years of qualifying payments and eligible full-time employment. The program is designed for borrowers whose income is low relative to their debt for at least some of their time while in a public service job. (Public service includes employment by federal, state, local, or tribal governments, including the military and public schools and colleges, and by non-profit entities.) However, PSLF only forgives debt in the Direct Loan program. Thus, to begin making qualifying payments: (1) borrowers who have already consolidated their federal loans with a private lender can reconsolidate into the Direct Loan program to become eligible; (2) once in the program, borrowers can choose one of three repayment plans to qualify: income-contingent repayment, income-based repayment (available in July 2009), or standard (10-year) repayment; and (3) borrowers who have not consolidated their federal loans can apply for a Direct consolidation loan at any time, and those who already have Direct Loans can switch repayment plans at any time.
All unconsolidated Stafford loans that originated before July 1, 2006, have variable interest rates that reset each year. This year, the variable rate is dropping from 7.22% to 4.21%. And, for Class of 2008 graduates, the news is even better: if they consolidate during the six-month grace period, they can lock in a rate of 3.61%. Remember, only Direct consolidated loans are eligible for PSLF. For more information, please go to http://studentaid.ed.gov/ and http://projectonstudentdebt.org/july1-2008.vp.html.
Symposium: Community Colleges
Yesterday (June 19), the Department's Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) sponsored a National Community College Symposium. Experts in the field discussed how student support services, career and technical education and workforce development practices, and institutional innovations can improve student transitions at community colleges. So-called "traditional" studentsfull-time undergraduates under age 23 residing on college campusesaccount for just 16% of the U.S. higher education population. Instead, most of today's students are working adults attending community colleges and other institutions of continuing education. Community colleges' equally important dual missions of preparing students for baccalaureate programs and serving those who need to upgrade their skills create challenges to the system and opportunities for research addressing the challenges. For more information, please go to http://www.sei2003.com/OVAE/. (Note: The proceedings were webcast and will be archived on the web site.)
Options for Parents
According to "Evaluation of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program: Impacts After Two Years," being offered a scholarship of up to $7,500 to attend a private school of choice may have improved reading test scores among three subgroups of students (representing 88% of all participating students): students who applied in the first year of program implementation; students who had previously attended Washington, D.C., public schools that were not identified for improvement; and students who scored in the top two-thirds of the evaluation's baseline testing group. The advantage that accrued to these students equates to an additional two to four months of learning. Further, the report found that parents of students who were offered the scholarship expressed greater satisfaction with their children's school and perceived the school to be safer. On the other hand, the report found no statistically significant difference in test scores, overall, between students who were offered scholarships and students who were not offered scholarships (as assigned by a lottery). For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/06/06162008.html.
Also: The Department recently announced Florida, Idaho, New York, Oregon, and Utah will receive competitive grants through the Charter Schools Program, which supports efforts to plan, design, implement, and disseminate information about charter schools. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/06/06122008.html.
The Department's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) revised Case Processing Manual (CPM) presents the procedures OCR uses to promptly and effectively investigate complaints and compliance reviews, issue findings, and secure resolution agreements that remedy discriminatory policies or practices identified by the office. The CPM officially replaces the Case Resolution and Investigation Manual (CRIM). For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/ocrcpm.html.
Quote to Note
"If you've been paying attention to what's being said on the campaign trail, you know that continued progress is anything but inevitable. Our job is to make sure improving our schools remains a top priority for the next administration and beyond.... In my time as U.S. Secretary of Education, I've traveled to nearly every state in the union. This year alone, I've been to 22 states. I've met with state and local policymakers, parents, educators, state education chiefs, governors, and members of Congress. Three key areas have emerged as places where we must focus our efforts: removing barriers to reform, using time and personnel more effectively, and empowering families to make the best educational choices for their kids."
|||Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings (6/19/08), at Excellence in Action: a National Summit on Education Reform|
This year's Federal Student Aid (FSA) Conferences are premiere training and networking opportunities for financial aid professionals. Register now for either Dallas (October 28-31) or Las Vegas (December 2-5). The program and session content at each event is similar. For more information, please go to http://fsaconferences.ed.gov/.
Take a deep breath! Over the next two weeks, the Department will be exhibiting at the National PTA's Annual Convention in San Diego (June 20-23), the eighth-annual National Charter Schools Conference in New Orleans (June 22-25), the Federal Asian Pacific American Council's Annual National Leadership Training Conference in New York City (June 23-27), the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. (June 25-28), the seventh-annual African-American Heritage Festival in Baltimore (June 27-29), and the National Education Association's Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly in Washington, D.C. (July 1-6). If you are attending any of these events, please stop by the Department's booth.
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Director, Intergovernmental AffairsRogers Johnson, (202) 401-0026, Rogers.Johnson@ed.gov
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