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The university ranks high in terms of serving "the true public interest" because it graduates far more low-income students than statistically predictable.
In hopes of improving engagement and retention, New York’s new Guttman Community College requires first-year students to enroll full time.
You received a federal student loan and now it’s time to repay your loan. If you’re like most student loan borrowers, you may find the repayment process a little overwhelming. But you have an important resource—your student loan servicer—to help you navigate the repayment process.
What is a loan servicer?
A loan servicer handles the billing and other services on your federal student loans. The U.S. Department of Education assigns your loan to a servicer, and the servicer will assist you with repayment and any questions you may have about your federal student loan.
What’s so important about my loan servicer?
There are several reasons why your loan servicer is important, including the fact that you’ll make your loan payments to your servicer.
Your servicer will help you:
- select or change your repayment plan;
- understand loan consolidation, forgiveness, cancellation, or discharge options;
- find ways to make your payments more affordable; and
- explore your options if you’re having trouble making payments to ensure you avoid becoming delinquent on your student loan.
How do I find out who my loan servicer is?
To view information about all of your federal student loans including contact information for your loan servicer, log in to “My Federal Student Aid.” You’ll need your Federal Student Aid PIN, so make sure you have that handy. Once you’re logged in, select “Your Federal Student Loan Summary” to view your loan information. Note: If you have multiple federal student loans you may have more than one loan servicer, so be sure select each loan to see information specific to that loan.
Just remember that your loan servicer will help you throughout the loan repayment process, so make sure to keep in touch with them, especially if your financial circumstances change.
Lisa Rhodes is a writer at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.
Glimpses of life in academe around the world.
What does it mean to be a learner? On May 15, in ED’s headquarters auditorium, student groups from both coasts explored this question. Students from the School for the Visual Arts and Humanities at Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Los Angeles (SVAH) and the Elevated Thought Foundation (ETF), a nonprofit student arts and social justice foundation that worked with students in Lawrence, Mass., collaborated to open the Department’s current student art exhibit, featuring 63 works of SVAH on the themes of learning, symbolic portraiture, knowledge, and art and technology.
A dozen students from SVAH and six from ETF, all with funding from their communities, served on a panel to discuss the power of education and of their voices in it, and to reveal what facilitates and hinders their learning. Students most often mentioned that the influence of the arts throughout their curriculum and access to teachers who cared about and guided them throughout the college application process significantly benefited their learning. The most-cited learning roadblocks were the lack of teacher and administrator support, and lower education funding for students of color, and low-income and first-generation students. The audience received valuable insights on how our education system could better serve all U.S. students, including those who are undocumented.
A collaborative poem the ETF students wrote got at the social justice issue: “Is education based on your ethnicity or the amount of money you have in your pockets? We are the shadows you see on the pavement filling in the cracks seeking light.” Echoing this analysis, an SVAH student stepped up to say “Learning is teamwork, not solo work. No one person is better than all of us together. We all have to work together to better our world.”
Acting Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach Massie Ritsch reminded everyone of Secretary Arne Duncan’s views on the arts in education: “All students—100 percent—should have access to arts instruction. All children should have arts-rich schools.”
Ritsch also mentioned the importance of the Department’s Teaching Ambassador Fellows (TAF) to the exhibit. Linda Yaron, SVAH teacher and 2010 TAF, initiated the exhibit during her time at ED, and current TAF Emily Davis recommended including ETF. Serendipitously, both groups of students were tackling the same questions about learning and using education to make a better world.
Yaron, ETF Co-founder and President Marquis Victor, and SVAH Principal Eftihia Danellis provided additional remarks highlighting the importance of the arts in a well-rounded education.
An excerpt of Yaron’s reflections on the event is below.
A Teacher’s Voice: Creating Authentic Learning Experiences for Students, by Linda Yaron
Before the plane ride back to L.A., the fifteen of us circled around and said one word that captured how we felt about our trip. Many students chose the word “blessed,” yet it was I who felt blessed to be a part of their experience.
We had just presented an art exhibit at the U.S. Department of Education on the importance of the arts and student voice as vehicles for education reform. Students … wrote learner statements that they made into a blog and book, created artwork that captured their ideas about education, and did other tasks that encouraged their … voice in education.
… Later on in a discussion with Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education Deborah Delisle, students expressed both hope and determination to go to college, as well as the fear of being among a small percentage of minorities at their future colleges.
Our art teacher, Eric Garcia, grappled to find the word to capture his thoughts about the trip. He said that the picture that was imprinted in his mind was when during the presentation our student Maricruz had difficulty finding her words to express the challenges of being an undocumented student. Her classmate Juan reached over to soothe her and hold her hand. All at once, many of us told him the word: Family.”
All photos are by Diana Schneider.
Nicole Carinci is a management and program analyst in the Office of Communications and Outreach.
The Department’s Student Art Exhibit Program provides students and teachers an opportunity to display creative work from the classroom in a highly public place that honors their work as an effective path to learning and knowledge for all. To visit the exhibits or for information about exhibiting, contact Jackye Zimmermann at 202-401-0762 or at email@example.com
Life can throw some unexpected curves at you. And when this happens, you often wind up with unwelcome expenses. In these hectic moments, it might seem impossible to think about your federal student loan payments, but that’s exactly what you should do.
If you are having trouble making your loan payments, you should remember that federal student loans offer many flexible repayment options. It might seem easier to ignore your student loans, but that won’t make them go away. In fact, defaulting on a federal student loan (not making payments for more than 270 days) can have serious consequences. If your loan defaults:
- your credit score will be negatively impacted, which could prevent you from qualifying for a car or home loan and may jeopardize your future employment opportunities;
- your loan may be placed with a collection agency, and you will be responsible for paying the collection fees; and
- your paycheck or federal income tax refund could be withheld to help repay your debt.
But, this doesn’t have to happen to you. When you’re struggling to make your student loan payments, you should contact your loan servicer. Your loan servicer can discuss your options for lowering or temporarily postponing your payments.
Here are some options you might want to consider:
- Switch your repayment plan: You may be able to change your repayment plan to one with lower monthly payments. Just beware that lowering your monthly payments may result in paying more over the life of the loan. You can compare your payments under each repayment plan using our Repayment Estimator.
- Ask for a deferment or forbearance:A deferment or forbearance allows you to temporarily postpone or reduce your federal student loan payments. You may qualify for a deferment or forbearance for a variety of reasons, including financial/economic hardship, unemployment or military service. It’s important to note that, in most cases, interest will continue to accrue on your loans when they are in a deferment or forbearance status (except for subsidized loans in deferment).
- Consolidate your loans: If you have multiple federal student loans, you may consider combining them into one loan. A Direct Consolidation Loan often results in a lower monthly payment, but does extend the amount of time you have to repay your loan which causes you to pay more over the life of the loan. Find out more about the pros and cons of loan consolidation.
For more information about options for successfully managing your loans, visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans or contact your loan servicer.
Tara Marini is a communication analyst at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.
The ambitious business plan calls for more than 24,000 in enrollment and $76.6-million in revenue by 2024.
When there's a highly visible contender, other highly qualified candidates may shy away.
More than 60 Democratic lawmakers have signed on to the bills, which follow other recent calls for more oversight of colleges’ relationships with banks.
The controversial archive, containing interviews with paramilitary participants in the decades-long Troubles, has been the subject of a bitter legal battle since 2011.
If you have federal student loans, it’s important that you understand your loan repayment options. For example, did you know that you have the option to choose a repayment plan? That’s right. While your loan servicer (the company that handles the billing and other services on your federal education loan) will automatically place your loan on the Standard Repayment Plan, you CAN choose another plan.
The Department of Education offers several traditional and income-driven repayment plans with different payment options. So, make sure to take the time to understand these options and find the plan that works best for you.
Generally, our repayment plans offer three types of payments:
- Fixed Payments: Our Standard Repayment Plan and Extended Repayment Plan offer payments that remain the same amount for the life of the loan.
- Graduated Payments: Our Graduated Repayment Plan and Extended-Graduated Plan offer payments that start out low and gradually increase every two years.
- Income-Driven Payments: Our three income-driven repayment plans offer payments that are calculated based on your income.
Choosing a repayment plan can feel overwhelming. Don’t worry—there are several resources available to help you understand the repayments plans, determine your eligibility for each plan, and make the right decision for you.
- Watch our Repayment: What to Expect video to get a high-level overview of the repayment plans.
- Check out our Repayment Plans infographic for an easy-to-understand visual that will give you some key points to keep in mind as you are choosing a repayment plan.
- Read our Repay Your Federal Student Loans fact sheet for additional information on loan repayment and the repayment plans.
- Get detailed information about each repayment plan on our website.
- Use our online Repayment Estimator to find out which plans you may be eligible for and to estimate how much you would pay under each plan. (If you log-in, the Repayment Estimator will use your actual loan balance to estimate your eligibility and payment information.)
- Contact your loan servicer to discuss your options and choose a federal student loan repayment plan that’s best for you.
Remember, the repayment plans discussed here are for federal loans only. If you have private loans, check with your lender about available repayment options.
For more information on federal student loan repayment plans, visit Studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans.
Tara Marini is a communication analyst at the Department of Education’s office of Federal
Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson gave a commencement speech that changed the relationship between our country and its people. In that speech, he offered a vision of a “Great Society,” and in few places has the mark of his vision remained stronger than in education.
Johnson, who himself had struggled to afford school to become a teacher, had a finely tuned sense of human potential, of justice, and of what was possible with hard work and a good education. In his speech at the University of Michigan, he asked America to see the powerful connection between educational opportunity and the nation’s economic and moral health. And he asked us to recognize that it was within our power, collectively, to change outcomes, to ensure decent opportunity for every child. Indeed, he knew our future depended on our seeing that truth.
Our society will not be great until every young mind is set free to scan the farthest reaches of thought and imagination. We are still far from that goal.
Today, eight million adult Americans, more than the entire population of Michigan, have not finished five years of school. Nearly 20 million have not finished eight years of school. Nearly 54 million — more than one-quarter of all America — have not even finished high school.
Each year more than 100,000 high school graduates with proved ability do not enter college because they cannot afford it. And if we cannot educate today’s youth, what will we do in 1970 when elementary school enrollment will be five million greater than 1960?
… Poverty must not be a bar to learning, and learning must offer an escape from poverty.
By some measures, we are far closer to the country Johnson knew we could become. As he noted, a quarter of this country hadn’t completed high school at the time of his speech; now, that figure is less than a tenth. Thanks in large part to federal grants and loans, college is a reality for millions of students who could not attend otherwise.
Perhaps just as important, we now have far greater proof of Johnson’s belief that education can change life trajectories, and far greater understanding of what it takes to make that opportunity possible.
Yet, as I arrive to work each day at the Department of Education — itself a descendant of his vision for a more equitable society, housed in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Building — I recognize that poverty and other circumstances of one’s birth, far too often, remain “a bar to learning.” And the need for education is, frankly, greater today than it was half a century ago. Today, paths to a good life without a good education have essentially vanished. Yet at every level, poverty and race are still far too closely tied to educational opportunity and educational success. From course offerings to suspension and expulsion rates to college enrollment and graduation, we are not yet the equitable society Johnson knew we were capable of becoming.
In another commencement speech Johnson gave, at Howard University in 1965, he said, “It is not enough just to open the gates of opportunity—all our must citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates.”
Those words rang true five decades ago, and they ring true today.
Arne Duncan is U.S. Secretary of Education
It can be challenging helping children with reading, writing, math and science skills during the summer months to combat the “summer slide,” the learning loss than can occur when school is out. Parents work hard helping their children stay engaged in summer packets and reading lists to reinforce academic skills, or “hard skills,” which though beneficial are often difficult to assist and not very motivating to students during the carefree days of summer.
Instead, a focus on “soft skills,” often called “people skills” can be a more inviting focus of summer learning, can be developed in children of any age and can be the start of successful life-long habits. Skills such as cultivating a growth mindset, setting goals, journaling, reflecting, collaborating, and communicating are just to name a few.
A national survey reports 77% of employers believe that soft skills are just as important as hard skills in the workplace. Some “soft skills” and ways you can help your child cultivate them this summer are:
- Work ethic – This is also known as “grit.” Grit allows us to keep going and not give up. Give your child a difficult task to complete and encourage them throughout the process for not giving up and teach them how to bounce back from failure.
- Goal Setting – Have your child write goals for each week and then have them check them off as they get done and celebrate success!
- Dependability – Make your child responsible for tasks that they can complete independently. Give them a chance to be the leader at a family meeting, or decision-maker for family activities for a day.
- Positive attitude – Create a gratitude calendar with your child where each day they write down one thing they are grateful for in their lives.
- Teamwork – Get your child involved with athletics or other activities where they will need to work as a part of a team. Create family and friend activities where all members must work together to accomplish a fun task.
- Problem solving –Think about ways to make everyday routines and activities a puzzle, such as leaving clues around the house that lead kids to solving puzzles while doing chores. Have them interact with online simulations to solve problems.
- Reflection – Help your child begin a journal. Each day have them write about the events of the day, observations in nature, or things they have learned. Younger students can use pictures to express thoughts.
- Communication – Create opportunities for your child to speak to you, family and friends. Use pictures, online field trips, role-play scenarios, or educational videos as conversation starters to get your child thinking and talking.
The most important thing you can do to support these skills is to model them daily. By engaging in activities with your children that focus on the “softer” side of learning this summer you will send them back to school in the fall with critical skills that will impact their future college, career and personal lives.
In a rare example of bipartisanship, members of Congress agreed to streamline programs in a bill to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act.
The group’s goal is to develop a positive agenda around copyright, says one of its founders, and to arm writers with information to help them make decisions.
For so many, this season of college commencements is a joyful one filled with visions of the future. College holds the promise of a good job, lifelong learning and community engagement. Yet for too many families the price of that vital ticket to the middle class is increasingly out of reach. That undermines the opportunity that is core to our American values, and threatens our economic growth and the common good. As a nation, we have to make college more accessible and affordable and assure that students graduate with an education of real value.
President Obama has set a goal of regaining our world leadership in college completion, and has made a commitment to keep college within reach for all students. He has also set forth specific steps to ensure that quality education beyond high school can be a reality for all families. As part of a broad plan to promote postsecondary access, affordability and meaningful outcomes, President Obama charged the Department of Education to design a college ratings system to promote these goals by increasing accountability for the federal investment in higher education and making better information available to consumers.
This is my second update on that plan, following an earlier post in December.
The President’s call for a ratings system is already driving a necessary conversation about exactly the right kind of questions: What colleges are taking on the vitally important role of educating low-income students, and assuring that they graduate with good results? What educational practices might help schools lower the cost to students while improving or sustaining quality learning? Across the country, from Georgia State to Franklin & Marshall, Purdue to Arizona State, Los Rios Community College to University of Central Missouri to CUNY and SUNY, there are exciting examples of colleges and universities engaging constructively with those questions and shaping their priorities to advance the same goals.
In an effort to build this system thoughtfully and wisely, we are listening actively to recommendations and concerns, starting with a student leader session, four open forums in California, Iowa, Louisiana and Virginia, and a national listening tour that grew to 80-plus meetings with 4,000 participants.
We hear over and over – from students and families, college presidents and high school counselors, low-income students, business people and researchers – that, done right, a ratings system will push innovations and systems changes that will benefit students. We’ve heard strong support for the President’s plan from state education leaders, who are working to figure out sensible ways to drive positive change, and also from students, educators and parents who have spoken passionately about the need to improve access to higher education.
At the same time, we’ve received useful feedback on the creation of the system and dangers to avoid. Many have spoken strongly about the need to reward schools for completion in ways that do not lead them to turn away struggling students. A viable system, they remind us, must capture the wide variety of schools and students with sensitivity. And it must thoughtfully measure indicators like earnings, to avoid overemphasizing income or first jobs, penalizing relatively lower paid and public service careers, or minimizing the less tangible benefits of a college education such as civic engagement and critical thinking.
In all of these conversations, nothing has touched me more than a young woman who testified with remarkable openness at our forum in Los Angeles. “I want to repay the government and private lenders for the unforgettable education I received, but it’s nearly impossible,” she said. “I feel like I’m drowning every day.”
Her college debt was destroying her and her brother’s credit records. We’ve met many students, from Iowa farm families to Louisiana working adults, struggling to find a good and affordable college option and worried about debt and repayment. By contrast, I think of the astonishment and delight of a Hispanic mom at a community center parent meeting who discovered that her family didn’t have to rule out for cost reasons the respected and selective schools for which her daughter was well qualified. Sensible college ratings could help all of them.
As this conversation has evolved we’ve sought the help of higher education leaders and experts. In December, we asked technical and subject-matter experts about measures, data sources, and formulas that might be used to generate ratings. We received more than 140 responses, including some fully-developed recommendations for designing an effective system. In February, we convened a technical symposium on ratings systems with people knowledgeable about measures developed by institutions, states, and publications. The scope of responses, complexity of the task, and importance of doing this thoughtfully and usefully led us to decide that it is worth taking more time before publishing a proposal for comment, interchange and improvement. In the meantime we are continuing conversations with educators, families, leaders and researchers. We are on track to come out with a proposal by this fall and a final version of the new ratings system before the 2015-16 school year. I look forward to updating you again on progress in the coming months.
Ultimately, we are committed to significantly increasing college access, affordability and results for the good of America’s students and of our national competitiveness. Fair, clear and powerful incentives and information will let us recognize colleges’ success and scale their innovations.
Washington doesn’t have all the answers. But with the guidance of thousands of wise voices, we can take action that will help more Americans realize the dream of a college education.
Jamienne Studley is deputy under secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.
Under a proposed consent decree, the council will grant accommodations more readily and stop "flagging" the scores of people who receive extra time.
In a package of proposed consumer protections, sticking points were rules for college-sponsored bank cards and online programs that operate across state lines.
A Direct Consolidation Loan allows you to combine multiple federal education loans into one loan. Before making the decision to consolidate your loans, you’ll want to carefully consider whether loan consolidation is the best option for you. Keep in mind, once your loans are combined into a Direct Consolidation Loan, they cannot be removed.
Advantages of consolidating your student loans:
- Simplified Payments
You’ll have a single monthly payment and a single lender (the U.S. Department of Education) instead of multiple payments and multiple lenders.
- It’s free!
It’s free to apply to consolidate your federal student loans. If you are contacted by someone offering to consolidate your loans for a fee, you are not dealing with the U.S. Department of Education.
- Fixed Interest Rate
Direct Consolidation Loans have a fixed interest rate, meaning your interest rate won’t change year to year. The fixed interest rate is based on the weighted average of the interest rates on the loans being consolidated, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of 1%.
- Lower Monthly Payments
You may get a longer time to repay your loans, often resulting in lower monthly payments.
Disadvantages of consolidating your student loans:
- Loss of Borrower Benefits
You may lose any borrower benefits, such as interest rate discounts, principal rebates, or some loan cancellation benefits, offered with the original loans.
- More Interest Paid Over Time
You will likely pay more money in interest over the life of the loan. The amount of time you have to repay your Direct Consolidation Loan can vary from 10-30 years depending on the amount of your Direct Consolidation Loan and the amount of your other student loan debt. The longer it takes to repay your loan, the more you will make in interest payments.
In weighing your options, be sure to compare your current monthly payments to what your monthly payments would be if you consolidated your loans. If you’re just interested in temporarily lowering your monthly payment, consolidation might not be the answer. Contact your loan servicer to consider alternative options such as deferment or forbearance.
To find out more information about loan consolidation, including eligibility requirements, visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/consolidation.
Tara Marini is a communication analyst at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.
Imagine living in an institution as a child with disabilities. You are isolated from your peers, your abilities are underestimated, and you are deprived of the special attention and education that you deserve. You are separated from other kids who live on your same street, only because you have a disability. After living in segregation for years, a law is passed that gives equal education rights to you – the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
When people see our website that we created for the competition, we want them to go forth with the knowledge of how much IDEA has helped children since 1975. The law has changed the lives of countless children in the United States. When Isabel, Chloe, and I originally made our website for the National History Day (NHD) competition, “Special Education is Not a Place: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,” we would never have guessed we, three 7th grade girls, would end up with a guest blog on the Department of Education website. It’s been a long journey for us; we have learned so much! However, it has been an even longer journey for children with disabilities to gain educational rights.
We go to George Washington Middle School in Alexandria, Va., which participates in the NHD competition. This year, the theme is “Rights and Responsibilities.” We chose the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act as our topic for several reasons. We were inspired by “Including Samuel,” a video about a boy with disabilities and his struggles and successes of inclusion, told by his father. Between the three of us we have three relatives who are involved with special education, but we realized many people have no idea what the IDEA stands for and what it does (even us!). We also realized that though civil rights and women’s rights are taught in school, the rights of people with disabilities are mostly left out.
As part of our website, we interviewed the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) Acting Assistant Secretary Michael Yudin to gain additional information on IDEA and special education. We enjoyed speaking with him so much and learned more during the interview about placing and educating students in the “least restrictive environment” and making sure children with disabilities are not discriminated against in the schools. This interview will be available on our website soon.
We are proud that our work has been recognized and we won first place in our category at the National History Day competition at our school, in regionals, and in our state! Now, our goal is not only to do well in the National competition (fingers crossed!), but to teach as many people as possible about the law that gave everyone the right to learn. IDEA will be 40 years old next year—that’s a lot older than we are! We are so happy that it has helped many before our time, and that it continues to make education better for all of us!
Lily Clausen, Chloe Marsh, and Isabel Frye are 7th grade students at George Washington Middle School in Alexandria, Virginia.