ED Review (01/06/23)

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January 6, 2023 (Happy New Year!)


FAFSA Form Process

New and returning students who plan to attend college between July 1, 2023, and June 30, 2024, should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).  The Department provides more than $112 billion in grants, loans, and work-study funding annually to help students pay for higher education.  Also, many state governments, postsecondary institutions, and private organizations use FAFSA information to determine their financial aid (see FAFSA process infographic). 

So far, over 4.5 million people have completed the 2023-24 FAFSA.  Learn about the benefits of submitting the FAFSA form, the impact of state deadlines, and common errors by tapping a recording of a recent Twitter Space and the thread.  And, the Federal Student Aid (FSA) office offers a wide variety of resources on its Financial Aid Toolkit site. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a second appeal concerning the Administration’s student debt relief plan, meaning it will hear two cases on the program in February. 

The Administration filed its legal brief with the Court this week (Secretary Cardona’s statement and Twitter thread). 

The Department extended the pause on student loan repayment, interest, and collections while the Court reviews the plan.  Payments would resume 60 days after the agency is permitted to implement the program or the litigation is resolved, giving the Court an opportunity to resolve the case during its current term.  If the program has not been implemented and the litigation has not been resolved by June 30, 2023, payments would resume 60 days after that. 


President signs bill 

On December 29, President Biden signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, providing funding for the activities of the federal government for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2023, and advancing critical priorities for the nation (President’s statement and Secretary Cardona’s statement and Twitter thread). 

The $1.7 trillion omnibus funding agreement includes $79.6 billion in discretionary spending for the Department of Education, an increase of $3.2 billion over the Fiscal Year 2022 level.  Among the highlights: $18.4 billion for Title I grants to school districts (+$850 million), $14.2 billion for special education grants to states (+$850 million), $1.4 billion for career and technical education state grants (+$50 million), and an increase in the maximum Pell Grant by $500, to $7,395, for the 2023-24 academic year. 

Notably, among the Administration’s priorities, there is $111 million for school mental health grants and $150 million for full-service community schools (+$75 million), as well as investments in support of a diverse and well-prepared educator workforce. 

The bill also includes $3.5 billion for higher education, with $1.02 billion for minority-serving institutions (+$137 million) (specifically, $396 million for Historically Black Colleges and Universities [HBCUs], $228 million for Hispanic-Serving Institutions [HSIs], and $52 million for Tribal Colleges and Universities [TCUs]), $1.2 billion for TRIO programs (+$54 million), and $388 million for the GEAR UP program (+$10 million).  Moreover, there is $45 million for Postsecondary Student Success Grants (+$40 million). 

Plus, the bill includes $808 million for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), an increase of $71 million from FY 2022. 


STEMM Priorities 

Also last month, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced a slate of bold actions across the government and business, academic, civic, non-profit, community-based, and philanthropic organizations to advance the Administration’s science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM) priorities by dramatically expanding access and opportunities and bolstering America’s global competitiveness.  The STEMM Opportunity Alliance (SOA), led by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, is coordinating this effort with some 90 institutional partners, combining to account for over $1.2 billion in work and investment across five national equity and excellence pillars: ensuring equitable access and opportunities to contribute to science and technology; investing in the STEMM teacher pipeline; bringing parity to investment in STEMM opportunities for communities and institutions that have been historically underserved; acknowledging and dismantling bias and discrimination within the scientific community; and gathering more comprehensive data to help close information gaps and increase accountability.  More than $4 million has been committed to date to launch the SOA; these pledges will serve as a force multiplier for the major strategic initiatives being driven by federal agencies (fact sheet). 

Previously, the Department announced a “Raise the Bar: STEM Excellence for All Students” initiative focused on implementing and scaling equitable, high-quality STEM education opportunities for all students -- from pre-kindergarten to higher education -- supported by American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds and other federal, state, and local funding. 

Furthermore, the agency has been hosting a webinar series focused on strategies and programs to boost literacy and math outcomes.  The next session, digging into addressing teacher shortages and supporting educators, will be held January 12 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time.  Registration is free and open to all. 


In a new blog post, senior leaders from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department emphasize the importance of early intervention services, or EIS, for infants and toddlers with disabilities. 

Also, the Department’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) held a webinar, “Working Together to Support All Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities,” to highlight how federal agencies, state agencies, local programs, and families can work together to support the growth and development of infants and toddlers with disabilities. 

Additionally, OSEP released the first three in a series of resource guides to support access to high-quality EIS for infants and toddlers with disabilities.  The Vision and Guiding Resources guide provides an overview of the initiative.  The Outreach and Family Engagement guide explains the need for outreach and family engagement in the child find process, which locates, identifies, and evaluates infants and toddlers who may benefit from EIS.  The Monitoring, Screening, and Referral guide details how health care providers and others working with infants and toddlers regularly monitor and screen children to ensure they meet specific milestones.  OSEP will make additional resources in this series available this year. 

Separately, OSEP Director Valerie Williams introduced a blog series that will explain topics of interest related to the office’s discipline and behavior guidance package released this past summer. 


On December 15, the Administration announced a plan to stay ahead of an increase in COVID-19 cases this winter.  While COVID-19 is not the disruptive force it once was, the virus continues to evolve, and cases are on the rise again as families are spending more time indoors and gathering for the holiday season.  The plan includes expanding easy access to free COVID-19 testing options (COVIDTests.gov is open for another limited round of ordering), making vaccinations and treatments readily available to all Americans, preparing essential personnel and resources, and focusing on protecting the highest-risk Americans. 



The pandemic has taken so much from us.  We’ve lost so much time with one another.  We’ve lost so many people -- people we loved.  Over a million lives lost in America alone….  Our politics has gotten so angry, so mean, so partisan.  And too often we see each other as enemies, not as neighbors; as Democrats or Republicans, not as fellow Americans.  We’ve become too divided.  But as tough as these times have been, if we look a little closer, we see bright spots all across the country: the strength, the determination, the resilience that’s long defined America.  We’re surely making progress.  Things are getting better.  COVID no longer controls our lives.  Our kids are back in school, and people are back to work….  Americans are building again, innovating again, dreaming again.  So my hope this holiday season is that we take a few moments…and really look at each other as…fellow human beings worthy of being treated with dignity and respect.

-- President Joseph Biden (12/22/22), from his Christmas Address to the Nation 


The Department is holding a webinar series to accompany the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) Stronger Connections Grant Program.  Recordings of the initial sessions, “Building Stronger Connections: Engaging Families and Communities and “Building Stronger Connections: Selecting High-Quality Evidence-based Strategies for Safe, Healthy, and Supportive Schools Part I,” are available on-demand.  Register today for the remaining sessions: “Building Stronger Connections: Selecting High-Quality Evidenced-based Strategies for Safe, Healthy, and Supportive Schools Part II” on January 18 at 1:00 p.m. ET and “Building Stronger Connections: Professional Development and Training for All School Staff on Strategies for Safe, Healthy, and Supportive Schools” on January 26 at 1:00 p.m. ET (BSCA landing page). 

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month.  Trafficking can involve school-age youth, particularly those made vulnerable by challenging family situations, and may take a wide variety of forms, including forced labor, domestic servitude, and commercial sexual exploitation.  A Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance Center document shares resources on integrating human trafficking with school emergency operations plans, while a National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE) webinar series draws attention to the important efforts underway in the education community to address human trafficking. 

January is also National Mentoring Month. 

This weekend, Secretary Cardona will travel to Los Angeles to join the College Football Playoff Foundation’s Extra Yard for Teachers Summit and other events honoring educators from across the country.  

AmeriCorps is asking Americans to appropriately honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy on January 16 by making the holiday a day ON -- versus a day off.  MLK Day became a national day of service in 1994, when Congress passed legislation to give the holiday even greater significance.  A web page offers resources and enables individuals to find volunteer opportunities and organizers to register projects nationwide. 

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