ED Review (07/07/23)

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July 7, 2023


Biden on SCOTUS SDR Decision 

On June 30, in a split decision, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked implementation of the Administration’s one-time federal student loan debt relief plan. 

“This fight is not over,” President Biden emphasized in a statement, prior to addressing the nation with additional information on the Administration’s response (remarks and video).  “My Administration’s student debt relief plan would have been the lifeline tens of millions of hard-working Americans needed as they try to recover from a once-in-a-century pandemic.  Nearly 90% of the relief from our plan would have gone to borrowers making less than $75,000 a year, and none of it would have gone to people making more than $125,000.  It would have been life-changing for millions of Americans and their families.  And, it would have been good for economic growth, both in the short- and long-term.” 

“President Biden, Vice President Harris, and I will never stop fighting for borrowers, which is why we are using every tool available to provide them with needed relief,” Secretary Cardona stressed in his own statement, outlining the Administration’s further actions (see below).  “[T]he Administration will continue the critical work we have pursued under President Biden’s leadership to make college more affordable to more Americans and make long-overdue improvements to the student loan system.  [We] remain fully committed to ensuring students can earn a postsecondary education and build fulfilling careers -- without the burden of student loan debt blocking them from opportunity.” 

In light of the court’s ruling, the Administration has taken a number of steps (fact sheet). 

First, the Secretary initiated a rulemaking process aimed at opening an alternative path to debt relief for as many working and middle-class borrowers as possible, using his authority under the Higher Education Act (HEA).  Indeed, the Department issued a notice announcing a virtual public hearing on July 18 and soliciting written comments from stakeholders on topics to consider.  The agency will begin the negotiated rulemaking sessions this fall and complete the whole process as quickly as possible.

Second, the Department finalized the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) repayment plan, ensuring that borrowers will be able to take advantage of this plan yet this summer -- before loan payments are due.  This new income-driven repayment (IDR) plan will cut borrowers’ monthly payments in half, allow many borrowers to make $0 monthly payments, save all other borrowers at least $1,000 per year, and ensure borrowers do not see their balances grow from unpaid interest.  All borrowers in repayment will be eligible to enroll in the SAVE plan.

Third, to protect the most vulnerable borrowers from the worst consequences, the Department is instituting a 12-month “on-ramp” to repayment, running from October 1, 2023, to September 30, 2024, so that those who miss payments are not considered delinquent, reported to credit bureaus, placed in default, or referred to debt collection agencies.  While payments are due and interest will accrue during this period, interest will not capitalize at the end of the period.  Borrowers do not need to take any action to qualify for this on-ramp.

These steps build on the unprecedented actions the President and his Administration have taken to make college more affordable for working and middle-class families and federal student loans more manageable, including securing the largest increase to Pell Grants in a decade; fixing broken student loan programs, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), so borrowers get the relief they deserve; and approving over $66 billion in loan cancellations for 2.2 million borrowers across the country, including public service workers and those who have been defrauded by their institutions. 

For further background, see the White House press briefing (transcript and video). 

The Federal Student Aid (FSA) office has also issued FAQs about debt relief and payments resuming. 


Biden on SCOTUS AA Decision 

A day earlier (June 29), in another split decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ended the use of race-conscious admissions practices by institutions of higher education. 

“Today’s Supreme Court decision…is a step backward for our nation,” asserted Vice President Harris in a statement, speaking in advance of the President addressing the nation with information on the Administration’s response (remarks and video) (see below).  “It rolls back long-established precedent and will make it more difficult for students from under-represented backgrounds to have access to opportunities that will help them fulfill their full potential.  It is well established that all students benefit when classrooms and campuses reflect the incredible diversity of our nation….  Our nation’s colleges and universities educate and train the next generation of American leaders, and students who sit in classrooms today will be the leaders of our government, military, private sector, and academic institutions tomorrow.  Today’s decision will impact our country for decades to come.” 

“Today’s Supreme Court decision takes our country decades backward, sharply limiting a vital tool that colleges have used to create vibrant, diverse campus communities,” added the Secretary in his own statement.  “Students of color have long faced inequities in education and college access, and today’s ruling is yet another blow to the fight for equal opportunity….  I want to send a message to all aspiring students, especially Black, Latino, Asian American, Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and other students from underserved communities: we see you, and we need you.  Do not let this ruling deter you from pursuing your educational potential.  Our colleges and country itself cannot thrive and compete in the 21st century without your talent, ingenuity, perseverance, and ambition.  [And] to our higher education leaders: now is not the time to lessen your commitment to campus communities that reflect the rich diversity of this nation, which enhance the college experience in myriad ways and prepare students from all walks of life to live, work, and lead our democracy together.  Your leadership and commitment to ensuring our institutions reflect the vast and rich diversity of our people are needed now more than ever.” 

In his remarks, the President called on colleges and universities, when selecting among qualified applicants, to give serious considerations to the aversities students have overcome, including:

  • the financial means of a student or their family;
  • where a student grew up and went to high school; and
  • personal experiences of hardship or discrimination, including racial discrimination, that a student may have faced.

In doing so, institutions may fully value students demonstrating resilience and determination in the face of deep challenges. 

In light of the court’s ruling, the Administration is also taking a number of steps (fact sheet). 

First, in the next 45 days, the Departments of Education and Justice will provide resources to colleges and universities addressing lawful admissions practices, as institutions prepare for the next application cycle. The Education Department will also provide assistance to institutions in administering programs to support students from underserved communities. 

Second, in August, the Education Department will host a summit on equal opportunity in postsecondary education with advocates, student leaders, college and university administrators, researchers, and state, local, territorial, and tribal leaders, to share lessons learned and innovative strategies and develop additional resources for institutions and students to expand access to educational opportunity.  After the summit, the agency will produce a report, elevating promising practices to build inclusive, diverse student bodies. 

Third, the Department’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) will consider ways to collect and publish more information on application and enrollment trends, including how information might be validly disaggregated by race and ethnicity, first-generation and legacy status, and other measures.  And, the agency will assist states, territories, and tribal nations in marshaling their data to improve recruitment, admissions, and financial aid processes and devise strategies for increasing access to opportunities, such as partnerships to appropriately share data and direct programs that proactively admit students based on factors like academic performance and geographic location. 

This work builds on the Administration’s historic efforts prioritizing college completion and supporting Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs). 

For further background, review the White House press gaggle aboard Air Force One (transcript). 


Hudson Valley CC Visit 

Also last week, the President kicked off a second round of the Administration’s Investing in America tour with a major infrastructure funding announcement at the White House.  Specifically, the Department of Commerce announced funding for each state, the District of Columbia, and territory for high-speed internet infrastructure deployment through the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) initiative -- a $42.45 billion grant program created under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).  With every state receiving a minimum allocation of $107 million -- and 19 states receiving allocations topping $1 billion -- all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the territories have the resources to connect every resident and small business to affordable, reliable high-speed internet by 2023. 

Over the course of three weeks (June 26-July 15), President Biden, Vice President Harris, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, Cabinet members, and senior officials will travel across the country to highlight the impact the President’s Investing in America agenda -- including the BIL, the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the American Rescue Plan -- is having on communities across the country (fact sheet).  As part of the tour, Secretary Cardona traveled to Troy, New York, on June 27.  There, joined by Congressman Paul Tonko, he toured Hudson Valley Community College and participated in a roundtable discussion about the school’s focus on technical education to propel students into advanced manufacturing and aviation (photos). 

A day later (June 28), the Secretary was in Colorado for the annual Aspen Ideas Festival, where he served on a panel titled Flipping the Script on the Digital Divide.” 


Across its many social media channels, the Department recently recognized this year’s cohort of U.S. Presidential Scholars.  Watch Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten’s congratulatory video and the Scholars’ slideshow with photos and quotes, browse the Flickr album, and check out the artistic photo collage on Facebook and Instagram.  Congratulations 2023 Scholars! 


On July 1, the Department launched a new process through which institutions of higher education may apply to offer postsecondary programs to confined or incarcerated individuals.  For the first time in nearly 30 years, as a result of statutory changes enacted through the FAFSA Simplification Act, individuals enrolled in approved prison education programs will be eligible for Pell Grants, outside a limited pilot program known as the Second Chance Pell Experiment.  The agency will approve applications on a rolling basis (press release).

While the experiment was a limited program, it has expanded opportunity for incarcerated individuals.  According to the Vera Institute, more than 40,000 students received Pell Grants under the experiment through the 2021-22 award year.  Based on current participation rates, the Department estimates that full reinstatement could allow some 760,000 additional individuals to become eligible for a Pell Grant through prison education programs.

Prison education programs transform the culture, climate, and safety of correctional facilities and can provide purpose and dignity for people with long-term and life sentences, who are then the culture-bearers for those with shorter sentences.  Data also shows that such programs have positively impacted students’ skills, future employment outcomes, and recidivism rates.  Furthermore, such programs benefit taxpayers: every $1 invested in prison education programs saves taxpayers up to $5. 


  • In new fact sheets, the Administration details its ongoing efforts to defend reproductive rights and strengthen access to affordable, high-quality contraception and family planning services.
  • Also, in follow-up to the release of guidance for schools to bill Medicaid, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a School-Based Services Technical Assistance Center.
  • The Department’s Homeroom blog spotlights the Full-Service Community Schools Grant Program.
  • As required by law, the Department issued annual determinations regarding states’ implementation of Parts B and C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
  • In the latest “Discipline Discussions” blog -- the seventh in a series -- Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Director Valerie Williams discusses preparing future educators to proactively and positively address behavior by identifying issues and addressing shortages with innovative strategies.
  • If you missed any of the Raise the Bar: Literacy and Math Series sessions, they are all available online: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.
  • Also, if you missed any of the Family Engagement Learning Series sessions through May, they are also available online: 1, 2, 3, and 4.
  • On June 23, to help schools deal with supply chain issues and rising food prices, the Department of Agriculture announced nearly $1.3 billion for states and territories to purchase domestic foods to be distributed to schools.
  • Then, on June 29, the Department of Energy announced 24 selectees in 22 states for the first round of funding from the Renew America’s Schools grant.  In response to high demand and overwhelming evidence of need, the agency doubled the funds available in the first round of the competition from $80 million to $178 million.
  • America250, the official organization leading the commemoration of the nation’s 250th anniversary, or semiquincentennial, launched America’s Invitation, a public awareness engagement campaign for all Americans to share their stories and hopes and dreams for the future.  Taking part is easy: visit America250.org/share-your-story to submit photos, videos, artwork, essays, songs, poems, or anything else that underscores what the U.S.A. means to you and how you hope to commemorate the upcoming milestone.  The content may be showcased on the web site, in videos, and on social media.


“Educators, I am here to acknowledge that we, as a country, owe you.  Yet in many parts of our country, you are facing an onslaught of disrespect.  You went from pandemic to persecution.  In some parts of this country, there developed an intentional, toxic disrespect against teachers and public schools….  I am here to say that you can fight for competitive salaries and be student centered.  In fact, I believe fighting for professional wages and benefits is fighting for students -- it is fighting for the profession -- it is fighting for public schools!  The time has come for us, as a nation, to fight unapologetically against toxicity….  Schools are the best intervention to fight ignorance, and educators are the antidote…or the vaccine against vitriol.  We need you now more than ever!” 

-- Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (7/5/23), addressing the National Education Association (NEA) Representative Assembly in Orlando (remarks and video) 


The Department’s Student Privacy Policy Office (SPPO), through its Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), will host a three-day virtual webinar series on student privacy and data security in August 2023.  Register now for each day (1, 2, and 3) of the series. 

The next Powered by Teach to Lead Summit, titled “Raising the Bar: Elevating Educator Diversity to Enhance Educational Experiences,” will be held October 27-29 in Denver, with applications for teams being accepted through July 14. 

The 2023 Federal Student Aid (FSA) Training Conference for Financial Aid Professionals (November 28-December 1) will again be delivered virtually, with many dynamic keynote addresses, engaging general forums, and informative breakout sessions. 

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