ED Review (03/31/23)

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March 31, 2023


Virtual Public Hearings 

The Department will hold virtual public hearings on April 11, 12, and 13 to receive stakeholder feedback on potential issues for future higher education rulemaking.  This announcement is the first step in the process of issuing new regulations.  Following these hearings, the agency will finalize the issues to be addressed and solicit nominations for non-federal negotiators who can serve on the negotiated rulemaking committee(s), which will convene in fall 2023 (press release and negotiated rulemaking for 2023-24 site). 

The Department suggests the following topics for regulation in the hearing notice but invites comment on any regulatory issue that can improve outcomes for students:

  • the Secretary’s recognition of accrediting agencies and related issues;
  • institutional eligibility, including state authorization;
  • third-party servicers and related issues;
  • the definition of distance education, as it pertains to clock hour programs and reporting students who enroll primarily online;
  • return of Title IV funds;
  • cash management to address disbursement of student funds; and
  • federal TRIO programs. 

The Department also invites public input on how it could, through its regulations, help improve borrowers’ understanding of repayment options and ensure borrowers select an income-driven repayment plan -- instead of enrolling in deferment or forbearance -- if doing so would be in their best interest. 

On each day, the hearing will be held from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Eastern Time.  Individuals who would like to offer comments must register by sending an email message to negreghearing@ed.gov no later than 12 noon ET on the business day prior to the hearing at which they wish to speak.  The message should include the name and email address of the speaker, general topic(s) to be addressed, and at least two dates and times during which the individual would be available to speak. 

The Department will attempt to accommodate each speaker’s scheduling preference.  However, if it is unable to do so, determinations will be made on a first-come, first-served basis based on the registration submission date and time.  Speakers’ comments will be limited to four minutes.  Individuals who wish to just observe the hearings must register too.  The public is also invited to provide written comments by April 24. 

In related news:

  • The Federal Student Aid (FSA) office published the “Better FAFSA, Better Future Roadmap,” an implementation timeline of resources, guidance, and training materials about the redesigned 2024-25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form, which is currently on track to be launched in December 2023 (see electronic announcement).
  • FSA also published updated Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) data: through early February, approximately 453,000 borrowers have qualified for forgiveness under the limited PSLF waiver.
  • And, FSA issued new guidance on a one-time account adjustment for borrowers in PSLF and income-driven repayment plans. 


Secretary at CCSSO 

In back-to-back-to-back remarks at the Council of the Great City Schools’ Legislative/Policy Conference, the Council of Chief State School Officers’ Legislative Conference, and the National Association of State Boards of Education’s Legislative Conference, Secretary Cardona called on education leaders to rework systems so they better support promoting academic excellence, improving learning conditions, and preparing students for a world where global engagement is critical to the nation’s standing.  “Now is the time for systems in education that deliver on our nation’s potential and put us in the position to raise the bar and lead the world for years to come,” he emphasized.  He also urged leaders to tap the $1 billion allocated under the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA) to further advance school-based mental health programs.  “Our students are in great need now,” he said.  “Let us support you through that work.” 

Note: In an session open to the public, a number of Chief State School Officers shared how they were using nearly $19 billion of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds set aside for state use to advance recovery, from high-impact tutoring to student well-being initiatives (agenda and tweets 1 and 2). 


Secretary in Zambia 

This week, the United States co-hosted a second Summit for Democracy with the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, and Zambia.  Building on the initial summit, held in December 2021, this year’s summit highlighted how democracies deliver for their citizens and are best equipped to address the world’s most pressing challenges.  World leaders convened in a virtual plenary format, followed by hybrid gatherings in each of the co-host countries with representatives from government, civil society, and the private sector. 

Secretary Cardona traveled to Lusaka, Zambia, to lead the U.S. delegation, including the U.S. Ambassador to Zambia and the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Principal Deputy, and the U.S. Agency for International Development Assistant Administrator and Acting Director for Democracy, Human Rights, and Government. 

The theme for Zambia’s gathering was “Free, Fair, and Transparent Elections as the Foundation of Democratic Governance.”  The Secretary delivered opening remarks (photo).  He also visited a local school and read to students. 


The Department is currently soliciting applications under several discretionary grant competitions. 

  • Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) -- Open Textbooks Pilot Program.  This program supports projects at eligible postsecondary institutions or state higher education agencies that create new open textbooks and expand the use of open textbooks and materials for courses that are part of a degree-granting program, particularly for those with high enrollments.  (Note: The deadline for applications is May 16.)
  • Strengthening Institutions Program.  The SIP program provides grants to eligible postsecondary institutions to help them become self-sufficient and expand their capacity to serve low-income students by improving the academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability.  (Note: The deadline for applications is May 22.)
  • Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Language Program.  The UISFL program provides grants for planning, developing, and carrying out projects to strengthen undergraduate instruction in international studies and foreign languages in the U.S.  (Note: The deadline for applications is May 22.)
  • Expanding Opportunities Through Quality Charter Schools Program -- Grants to State Entities.  This program awards grants to state entities that, in turn, award subgrants to eligible applicants to open new charter schools and replicate and expand high-quality charter schools.  (Note: The deadline for applications is June 5.) 

Also, education and workforce partners are encouraged to apply for Labor’s State Apprenticeship Grants, which may be used to strengthen and diversify the teacher workforce. 


The Department recently posted the 2023 President’s Education Awards Program (PEAP) Excellence and Achievement certificates, as well as congratulatory letters from the President and the Secretary, for download by school principals.  Each year, hundreds of thousands of elementary, middle, and high school graduates from public, private, and military schools are recognized for their educational accomplishments.  There is no limit on the number of awards that may be downloaded and printed, as long as students meet criteria for each award set by schools. 


  • President Biden issued a proclamation honoring the victims of the school shooting in Nashville (see also comments 1 and 2), while Secretary Cardona personally addressed the tragedy.
  • The President kicked off the Administration’s “Investing in America” tour by visiting a semiconductor manufacturing facility in North Carolina.  Over the next three weeks, the President, Vice President, First Lady, Second Gentleman, members of the Cabinet, and senior White House officials will visit over 20 states to spotlight the Administration’s agenda.
  • In a Dear Colleague Letter, the Secretary urges swift condemnation and elimination of the use of corporal punishment in educational settings and shares some guiding principles for creating safe, inclusive, supportive, and fair school climates (press release).
  • The Secretary also issued a statement after the House introduced a Congressional Review Act resolution to halt the Administration’s one-time student loan debt relief plan.
  • Furthermore, the Secretary praised the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in favor of students with disabilities.
  • In the fourth post in a blog series on discipline and behavior, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Director Valerie Williams discusses the disparities in discipline practices that students with disabilities, particularly those of color, experience and OSEP-funded technical assistance centers with resources to address discipline disparities.
  • A new “OSEP Fast Facts” looks at students with traumatic brain injury served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part B.
  • The latest “Lessons from the Field” event focused on understanding and preventing student marijuana use.
  • The Department launched the Your Place in Space Challenge -- the first in the CTE Momentum series that aims to prepare high school students for rewarding careers and increase access to career and technical education.  This challenge invites schools to submit designs for a product or service that will contribute to space missions (blog post).
  • An agency memorandum addresses the end of the public health emergency and the impact on postsecondary student eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
  • The Department is requesting information on successful approaches to innovative assessment implementation that may encourage states to pursue the Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority (IADA) and improve statewide assessments.
  • In a Federal Register notice, the Department also announces opportunities for individuals to participate in its peer review process for competitive grant funding under many programs.
  • The Department of Agriculture is proposing to lower the threshold for its Community Eligibility Provision.
  • Moreover, the White House announced a Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities.
  • The new Choose AmeriCorps campaign seeks to unlock the power of national service by underscoring opportunities to serve with AmeriCorps. 


“Transgender Americans shape our nation’s soul -- proudly serving in the military, curing deadly diseases, holding elected office, running thriving businesses, fighting for justice, raising families, and much more.  As kids, they deserve what every child deserves: the chance to learn in safe and supportive schools, to develop meaningful friendships, and to live openly and honestly.  As adults, they deserve the same rights enjoyed by every American, including equal access to health care, housing, and jobs and the chance to age with grace as senior citizens.  But, today, too many transgender Americans are still denied those rights and freedoms….  [My Administration] is working to ease the tremendous strain that discrimination, bullying, and harassment can put on transgender children -- more than half of whom seriously considered suicide in the last year.  The Department of Education, for example, is helping ensure that transgender students have equal opportunities to learn and thrive in school, and the Department of Justice is pushing back against extreme laws that seek to ban evidence-based gender-affirming care….  America is founded on the idea that all people are created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout their lives.  We have never fully lived up to that, but we have never walked away from it either.  [A]s we celebrate transgender people, we also celebrate every American’s fundamental right to be themselves, bringing us closer to realizing America’s full promise.” 

-- President Joseph Biden (3/30/23), in a proclamation on Transgender Day of Visibility (see also Secretary Cardona’s statement) 


Among other observations, April is Community College Month, the Month of the Military Child, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, National Financial Capability MonthNational Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and Second Chance Month 

The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, in conjunction with the Department of Education, will present a Jazz Informance on April 4 at 1 p.m. ET.  Hosted by Secretary Cardona, this event -- a combination of performance with educational information -- will feature four of the country’s most gifted high school music students, internationally acclaimed jazz trumpet recording artist Terell Stafford, and renowned jazz educator Dr. J. B. Dyas.  It will focus not only on what jazz is and why it is so important to America but also on the American values that jazz represents.  (Note: The event will be live-streamed from the Department’s headquarters building.) 

The 30th Annual Federal Inter-Agency Holocaust Remembrance Program, “Rays of Hope,” will be held virtually on April 18 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET. 

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