Press Room NEWSLETTERS
June 20, 2014

ED Review ... ...a bi-weekly update on U.S. Department of Education activities relevant to the Intergovernmental and Corporate community and other stakeholders

What's inside...
Managing Student Loans
Addressing Confined Youth
Announcing Key Initiatives
Commencement Addresses
ED.GOV Redesign
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Upcoming Events

Managing Student Loans

More students than ever before are relying on student loans to pay for college education. Today, 71% of students earning a bachelor's degree graduate with debt, averaging $29,400. While most students are able to repay their loans, many feel burdened by debt, especially as they seek to start a family, buy a home, launch a business, or save for retirement. On June 9, to make student loan debt more affordable and manageable, President Obama signed a memorandum directing the Secretary of Education to propose regulations that would allow nearly five million federal Direct student loan borrowers the opportunity to cap their student loan payments at 10% of their income. The memo also outlines new executive actions to support federal student loan borrowers, especially vulnerable borrowers who may be at greater risk of defaulting on their loans.

With legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President in 2010 and regulations adopted by the Administration in 2012, most students taking out loans today can already cap their loan payments at 10% of their incomes. Monthly payments can be set on a sliding scale based upon income. Any remaining balance is forgiven after 20 years of payments, or 10 years for those in public service jobs. However, this Pay as You Earn option has not been available to students with older loans—those who borrowed before October 2007 or who have not borrowed since October 2011. The President's action is expected to help up to five million borrowers who may now be struggling with loans, as well as provide an important assurance for students that need to borrow to finance college that their student loan debt will remain manageable.

Moreover, the memo directs the Departments of Education and the Treasury to work together to help borrowers manage their student loan debts (fact sheet). Specifically, the agencies will:

  • strengthen incentives for loan contractors to serve students well;
  • ensure active-duty military get the relief they are entitled to;
  • work with the private sector to promote awareness of repayment options;
  • use innovative communication strategies to help vulnerable populations; and
  • promote stronger collaborations to improve information for students and families.

In addition, the agencies will work together to educate students, families, financial aid administrators, and tax preparers to ensure that all students and families understand what education tax benefits they are eligible for and receive the benefits for which they qualify. For example, in 2009, the President created the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides up to $2,500 to help pay for each year of college. Yet, hundreds of millions of dollars of education credits go unclaimed each year.

"In this year of action, wherever I've seen ways I can act on my own to expand opportunity to Americans, I have," the President said in his remarks at the signing ceremony. "And, today, I'm going to take three actions to help more young people pay off their student loan debt.... But, to give even more student borrowers the chance to save money requires action from Congress. I'm going to be signing this executive order. It's going to make progress—but not enough. We need more."

For further information:

  • The day after the executive action, the President participated in a Tumblr Q&A about all things education.
  • The White House released a new report, "Taking Action: Higher Education and Student Debt," including information on how borrowers are affected in each state.
  • The White House's "Making College Affordable" web site summarizes what the President has done to make college more affordable.
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Addressing Confined Youth

On the heels of the My Brother's Keeper Task Force Report, which recommends new action to address the persistent opportunity gaps faced by too many youth, particularly boys and men of color, Secretary Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Chief State School Officers and State Attorneys General highlighting the importance of supporting youth in juvenile justice facilities, describing how federal funding can support improved services, and signaling coming work to clarify the components of high-quality correctional education. This step continues recent efforts by the agencies to support youth in facilities—from model demonstration projects for returning students with disabilities to a commissioned report from the National Academy of Sciences to understand developmental needs. Moving forward, the agencies will invest in an initiative to design an evidence-based education model for returning youth and support demonstration projects in selected jurisdictions.

Also, the Council of State Governments' "School Discipline Consensus Report" presents a set of consensus-based and field-driven recommendations to improve conditions for learning for all students and educators, better support students with behavioral needs, improve police-schools partnerships, and keep students out of the juvenile justice system for minor offenses.

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Announcing Key Initiatives

President Obama's vision of a high-quality early learning system for all children—from birth through school entry—took a big leap forward with the announcement of a new, $500 million competition for Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership Grants. These grants from the Department of Health and Human Services will expand the availability of high-quality infant and toddler care by supporting partnerships between Early Head Start and child care providers. Almost any organization is eligible to apply for partnership or expansion grants, including state and local governments, territories, and for- and non-profit organizations. (Note: In a few months, the next part of the President's vision will be realized with the announcement of a new, $250 million competition for Preschool Development Grants.)

On June 13, Secretary Duncan and National Economic Council Director Jeff Zients announced that 10 businesses that have made ConnectED commitments are making privately funded resources available to schools across the country, with information about these and other resources accessible through the new ConnectED Hub (blog post). Companies like Adobe, Autodesk, Esri, O'Reilly Media, and Prezi are opening up learning software and content resources to eligible schools. Others, like Apple, AT&T, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon, are partnering with communities and non-profit organizations to equip the neediest schools with hardware, software, and wireless connectivity.

Last August, the President called for innovative approaches to enable more students complete college. On June 16, in New York City, the Secretary stood with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and Arizona State University President Michael Crow as they announced a new partnership—the Starbucks Onward College Achievement Plan (blog post). U.S.-based Starbucks employees who work 20 hours a week or more will get help starting or completing their degree in more than 40 online undergraduate degree programs offered by the university. The plan is especially aimed at encouraging those employees who started college, but, because of costs or other commitments, had to put their dreams on hold. It offers the targeted services that underserved learners may need to be successful in navigating the college experience, with supports like enrollment coaches, financial aid counselors, and faculty advisors, to ensure that students make it across the finish line.

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Commencement Addresses

Last week, the President traveled to Worcester, Massachusetts, to deliver the commencement address at Worcester Technical High School, a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School. "I'm here today," he said, "because there is nothing ordinary about Worcester Tech or the Class of 2014. You have set yourselves apart. This high school has set itself apart. Over the past four years, some of you have learned how to take apart an engine and put it back together again. Some of you have learned how to run a restaurant, or build a house, or fix a computer. And, all of you are graduating today not just with a great education but the skills that will let you start your careers and skills that will make America stronger."

Also last week, the Secretary traveled to Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana, to deliver its commencement address. "In so many ways, you—our accomplished graduates—and this college have already shown cutting-edge leadership, while remaining grounded in your traditions. SKC was recently selected by NASA to launch a satellite, Bison CubeSat, next year.... You were one of only four colleges nationwide to earn a prestigious award for increasing opportunity, persistence, and degree completion for traditionally underserved students.... Through the Broadfield Science Secondary Education degree program, you are challenging an unjust opportunity gap in science and engineering.... You have the only bachelor's degrees at any tribal college in forestry, hydrology, and nursing.... In just a year's time, you've doubled the enrollment in your Tribal Historical Preservation Program—the only major of its kind across the nation. And, you are preparing a generation of culturally-competent teachers whose pre-service training has helped prepare them to inspire the hopes and dreams of their students."

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ED.GOV Redesign

Starting today, users will notice some changes to ED.gov, including an updated look and feel, streamlined site navigation elements, improved site search, and templates that are mobile-friendly. These changes are the latest in a phased redesign of the ED.gov platform. Back in March, the Homeroom blog was revamped, and, this winter, users can expect a new home page, new landing page templates, and more mobile-friendly features.

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Odds and Ends

  • On June 13, the President made his first official visit to Indian Country, traveling to Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. Ahead of the visit, he announced a series of initiatives on improving education and economic development for Native American communities.

  • In "Drawing the Right Lessons from Vergara," the Secretary explains his position on the Vergara v. California decision.

  • In an op-ed in the National Journal, Assistant Deputy Secretary Libia Gil notes significant progress but substantial challenges in achieving real equality in education.

  • The Department released Race to the Top progress reports for seven states (Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) that received grants in the third round of the program. The reports capture the highlights of progress and challenges that the stares encountered during the second year of implementation—from January through December 2013.

  • "Indicators of School Crime and Safety, 2013," a new report issued jointly by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, examines crimes occurring in school, as well as on the way to and from school, and presents data on school safety from the perspectives of students, teachers, and principals. It covers topics such as victimization, bullying, school conditions, fights, weapons, and the availability and student use of drugs and alcohol.

  • The Administration has announced new steps to address growing concerns about sexual violence on college campuses by requiring institutions of higher education to comply with new campus safety and security-related requirements. The proposed rule, published in today's Federal Register, would implement changes to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act signed by the President last year.

  • The Department's Progress blog spotlights state and local innovative ideas, promising practices, lessons learned, and resources informed by the implementation of K-12 education reforms. Currently, one can read about a California program that places mentor teachers into the classrooms of first-year teachers and the Zones of School Innovation in Hawaii.

  • On June 18, the President hosted a first-ever White House Maker Faire, meeting with students and others who are using new tools and techniques to launch businesses, learn vital skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and lead a renaissance in American manufacturing. The President announced new steps to increase the ability of more Americans, young and old, to have access to these resources and bring their ideas to life.

  • First Lady Michelle Obama recently announced the winners of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. Students, from every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, and three territories, will attend a Kids' State Dinner at the White House on July 18, during which a selection of the winning recipes will be served. (Note: A blog post recaps the finals of the Cooking Up Challenge.)

  • For a youth panel about social and emotional learning, six students discussed the educators that made the biggest differences in their lives.

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Quote to Note

"This is commencement season, a time for graduates and their families to celebrate one of the greatest achievements of a young person's life. However, for many graduates, it also means feeling trapped by a whole lot of student loan debt.... This country has always made a commitment to put a good education within the reach of all who are willing to work for it. That's what made us an economic superpower. That's what makes us special. As long as I hold this office, I'll keep fighting to give more young people the chance to earn their own piece of the American Dream."

        President Barack Obama (6/7/14), in his weekly address on supporting America's students

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Upcoming Events

Today, as part of her Reach Higher initiative, the First Lady will tour student demonstrations and deliver remarks at the Department's National Summer Learning Day Fair. The event will be streamed live starting at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

Each year, up to 141 students are named as U.S. Presidential Scholars, one of the nation's top honors for high school students. The 2014 Scholars, who are arriving this weekend in Washington, D.C., for their National Recognition Program, will be sharing their experiences via social media, so be sure to follow #PSP14 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the program, the Department has collected reflections from past winners, who explain how the recognition influenced their lives and careers.

On June 23, the public is invited to join the White House Summit on Working Families, focused on creating a 21st century workplace that works for every American. The summit will be streamed live starting at 8:00 a.m. ET, and one can join the conversation using the hashtag #FamiliesSucceed.

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Credits, Subscribe & Unsubscribe

Please feel free to contact the Office of Communications and Outreach with any questions:
Deputy Assistant Secretary, State and Local Public Engagement—Joe Walsh, (202) 401-0026, Joseph.Walsh@ed.gov
Program Analyst—Adam Honeysett, (202) 401-3003, Adam.Honeysett@ed.gov
To be added or removed from distribution, or submit comments (we welcome your feedback!), contact Adam Honeysett. Or, visit http://www2.ed.gov/news/newsletters/edreview/index.html.


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Last Modified: 06/20/2014