Category Archives: Education

FACT SHEET: President Biden Cancels Student Debt for 150,000 Student Loan Borrowers; 3.9 Million Already Eligible for $138 Billion in Relief

From Day 1, the President vowed to fix the broken loan system and make sure education was a pathway to the middle class, not a barrier,” a White House spokesperson stated. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This fact sheet provided by the White House documents the latest efforts by the Biden Administration to relieve the burden of student debt. It is the latest in more than 25 actions that have resulted in $138 billion in student debt cancellation for almost 3.9 million borrowers.

“From Day 1, the President vowed to fix the broken loan system and make sure education was a pathway to the middle class, not a barrier,” a White House spokesperson stated. “ He has cancelled more student debt than any president – $138 billion for 3.9 million – fixing public service loan forgiveness, affecting 800,000 nurses, firefighters, teachers and others. Before, only 7,000 got relief. He has held colleges accountable for defrauding borrowers who paid over 20 years but never got the relief they were entitled to. The President’s actions have allowed over 4 million to afford homes, businesses, pursue the dreams they had to put on hold because of student loan, but are no longer weighed down by burden of student debt.” – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today, President Biden announced the approval of $1.2 billion in student debt cancellation for almost 153,000 borrowers currently enrolled in the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) repayment plan. The Biden-Harris Administration has now approved nearly $138 billion in student debt cancellation for almost 3.9 million borrowers through more than two dozen executive actions. The borrowers receiving relief are the first to benefit from a SAVE plan policy that provides debt forgiveness to borrowers who have been in repayment after as little as 10 years and took out $12,000 or less in student loans. Originally planned for July, the Biden-Harris Administration implemented this provision of SAVE and is providing relief to borrowers nearly six months ahead of schedule.

From Day One of his Administration, President Biden vowed to fix the student loan system and make sure higher education is a pathway to the middle class – not a barrier to opportunity. Already, the President has cancelled more student debt than any President in history – delivering life-changing relief to students and families – and has created the most affordable student loan repayment plan ever: the SAVE plan. While Republicans in Congress and their allies try to block President Biden every step of the way, the Biden-Harris Administration continues to cancel student debt for millions of borrowers, and is leaving no stone unturned in the fight to give more borrowers breathing room on their student loans.

Thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration’s SAVE plan, starting today, the Administration will be cancelling debt for borrowers who are enrolled in the SAVE plan, have been in repayment for at least 10 years and took out $12,000 or less in loans for college. For every additional $1,000 a borrower initially borrowed, they will receive relief after an additional year of payments. For example, a borrower enrolled in SAVE who took out $14,000 or less in federal loans to earn an associate’s degree in biotechnology would receive full debt relief starting this week if they have been in repayment for 12 years. The U.S. Department of Education (Department) identified nearly 153,000 borrowers who are enrolled in SAVE plan who will have their debt cancelled starting this week, and those borrowers will receive an email today from President Biden informing them of their imminent relief. Next week, the Department of Education will also be reaching out directly to borrowers who are eligible for early relief but not currently enrolled in the SAVE Plan to encourage them to enroll as soon as possible.
 
This shortened time to forgiveness will particularly help community college and other borrowers with smaller loans and put many on track to being free of student debt faster than ever before. Under the Biden-Harris Administration’s SAVE plan, 85 percent of future community college borrowers will be debt free within 10 years. The Department will continue to regularly identify and discharge other borrowers eligible for relief under this provision on SAVE.
 
Over four million borrowers have a $0 monthly payment under the SAVE Plan

Last year, President Biden launched the SAVE plan – the most affordable repayment plan ever. Under the SAVE plan, monthly payments are based on a borrower’s income and family size, not their loan balance. The SAVE plan ensures that if borrowers are making their monthly payments, their balances cannot grow because of unpaid interest. And, starting in July, undergraduate loan payments will be cut in half, capping a borrower’s loan payment at 5% of their discretionary income. Already, 7.5 million borrowers are enrolled in the SAVE Plan, and 4.3 million borrowers have a $0 monthly payment.  

Today, the White House Council of Economic Advisers released an issue brief highlighting how low and middle-income borrowers enrolled in SAVE could see significant saving in terms of interest saved over time and principal forgiven as a result of SAVE’s early forgiveness provisions.



President Biden’s Administration has approved student debt relief for nearly 3.9 million Americans through various actions

Today’s announcement builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s track record of taking historic action to cancel student debt for millions of borrowers. Since taking office, the Biden-Harris Administration has approved debt cancellation for nearly 3.9 million Americans, totaling almost $138 billion in debt relief through various actions. This relief has given borrowers critical breathing room in their daily lives, allowing them to afford other expenses, buy homes, start businesses, or pursue dreams they had to put on hold because of the burden of student loan debt. President Biden remains committed to providing debt relief to as many borrowers as possible, and won’t stop fighting to deliver relief to more Americans.

The Biden-Harris Administration has also taken historic steps to improve the student loan program and make higher education more affordable for more Americans, including:

  • Achieving the largest increases in Pell Grants in over a decade to help families who earn less than $60,000 a year achieve their higher-education goals.
     
  • Fixing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program so that borrowers who go into public service get the debt relief they’re entitled to under the law. Before President Biden took office, only 7,000 people ever received debt relief through PSLF. After fixing the program, the Biden-Harris Administration has now cancelled student loan debt for nearly 800,000 public service workers.
     
  • Cancelling student loan debt for more than 930,000 borrowers who have been in repayment for over 20 years but never got the relief they earned because of administrative failures with Income-Driven Repayment Plans.
     
  • Pursuing an alternative path to deliver student debt relief to as many borrowers as possible in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Administration’s original debt relief plan. Last week, the Department of Education released proposed regulatory text to cancel student debt for borrowers who are experiencing hardship paying back their student loans, and late last year released proposals to cancel student debt for borrowers who: owe more than they borrowed, first entered repayment 20 or 25 years ago, attended low quality programs, and who would be eligible for loan forgiveness through income-driven repayment programs like SAVE but have not applied.
     
  • Holding colleges accountable for leaving students with unaffordable debts.

It’s easy to enroll in SAVE. Borrowers should go to studentaid.gov/save to start saving.

FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Launches SAVE Plan to Lower Monthly Student Loan Payments for Millions of Borrowers

 “I am a firm believer in education beyond high school —- and that should be a ticket to the middle-class, not a burden that weighs people down for decades to come trying to pay their debt,” declared President Biden, introducing the SAVE Plan to reduce student debt. “On Day One of my Administration, I promised to fix the problems of the existing student loan program that hurt borrowers for much too long. And I’m proud we’re keeping that promise.” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Biden-Harris Administration believes that education beyond high school should unlock doors to opportunity, not leave borrowers stranded with debt they cannot afford. That’s why, from day one, President Biden and Vice President Harris have been working to fix the broken student loan system and make college more affordable. Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the official launch of the most affordable repayment plan ever created – the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan and kicked off an outreach campaign to encourage eligible borrowers to sign up for the plan.

“On Day One of my Administration, I promised to fix the problems of the existing student loan program that hurt borrowers for much too long.
And I’m proud we’re keeping that promise,” President Biden declared. “We’ve already approved over $116 billion in debt cancellation for 3.4 million Americans, no matter how many lawsuits, challenges, or roadblocks Republican elected officials or special interests tried to put in our way. And today I’m proud to announce a new program called the SAVE Plan. It’s the most affordable student loan plan ever.”
 
The SAVE plan is an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan that calculates payments based on a borrower’s income and family size – not their loan balance – and forgives remaining balances after a certain number of years. The SAVE plan will cut many borrowers’ monthly payments to zero, will save other borrowers around $1,000 per year, will prevent balances from growing because of unpaid interest, and will get more borrowers closer to forgiveness faster. The SAVE plan builds on the actions the Biden-Harris Administration has already taken to support students and borrowers, including cancelling more than $116 billion in student loan debt for 3.4 million Americans
 
The Biden-Harris Administration estimates that over 20 million borrowers could benefit from the SAVE plan. Borrowers can sign up today by visiting StudentAid.gov/SAVE
 
Specifically, the SAVE plan will:

  • Cut payments on undergraduate loans in half. Borrowers with undergraduate loans will have their payments reduced from 10% to 5% of their discretionary income. Those who have undergraduate and graduate loans will pay a weighted average between 5% and 10% of their income based upon the original principal balances of their loans.
    • Bring many borrowers’ loan payments to $0 per month. A borrower’s monthly payment amount is based on their discretionary income—defined under the SAVE plan as the difference between their adjusted gross income (AGI) and 225% of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Poverty Guideline amount for their family size. This means a single borrower who makes about $15 an hour will not have to make any monthly payments. Borrowers earning above that amount would save around $1,000 a year on their payments compared to other IDR plans. The Department of Education estimates that more than 1 million additional low-income borrowers will qualify for a $0 payment. This will allow them to focus on food, rent, and other basic needs instead of loan payments.
       
    • Ensure that borrowers never see their balance grow as long as they keep up with their required payments. The Department of Education will stop charging any monthly interest not covered by the borrower’s payment on the SAVE plan. As a result, borrowers who pay what they owe on this plan will no longer see their loans grow due to unpaid interest. For example, if a borrower has $50 in interest that accumulates each month and their payment is $30 per month under the new SAVE plan, the remaining $20 would not be charged as long as they make their $30 monthly payment. The Department of Education estimates that 70 percent of borrowers who were on an IDR plan before the payment pause would stand to benefit from this change. Coinciding with the launch of the SAVE plan, the White House Council of Economic Advisers released a new blog post that models how the income benefit of the SAVE plan could prevent a lower-income borrowers’ balance from increasing by nearly 78% over a 20-year repayment period.
       
    • Provide early forgiveness for low-balance borrowers. IDR plans require all borrowers, even those who only attended school for a single term, to repay their loans for at least 20 or 25 years before receiving forgiveness of any outstanding balance. Under the SAVE plan, borrowers whose original principal balances were $12,000 or less will receive forgiveness after 120 payments (the equivalent of 10 years in repayment). For each additional $1,000 borrowed above that level, the plan adds an additional 12 payments (equivalent of 1 year of payments) for up to a maximum of 20 or 25 years. For example, if a borrower’s original principal balance is $14,000, they will see forgiveness after 12 years. Payments made previously (before 2024) and those made going forward will count toward these maximum forgiveness timeframes.

The benefits of the SAVE plan will be particularly critical for low- and middle-income borrowers, community college students, and borrowers who work in public service. Overall, the Department of Education estimates that the plan will have the following effects for future cohorts of borrowers compared to the IDR plan, called the Revised Pay-As-You-Earn (REPAYE) plan:

  • Borrowers will see their total payments per dollar borrowed fall by 40%. Borrowers with the lowest projected lifetime earnings will see payments per dollar borrowed fall by 83%, while those in the top would only see a 5% reduction.
    • A typical graduate of a four-year public university will save nearly $2,000 a year.
    • A first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree will see a two-third reduction in total payments, saving more than $17,000, while pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
    • 85% of community college borrowers will be debt-free within 10 years because of the early forgiveness for low-balance borrowers provision of the plan.
    • On average, Black, Hispanic, American Indian and Alaska Native borrowers will see their total lifetime payments per dollar borrowed cut in half.

Borrowers who are already on the REPAYE plan will be automatically enrolled in the SAVE plan and see their payments automatically adjust with no action on their part.
 
Department of Education Launches Outreach Campaign

To encourage borrowers to sign up for the new SAVE plan, the Department of Education is partnering with grassroots organizations to launch an outreach campaign, “SAVE on Student Debt”. The campaign will leverage strategic partnerships across public, private, and nonprofit sectors to help borrowers take full advantage of the benefits provided by the SAVE plan, as well as ensure borrowers know about other resources and debt forgiveness programs available from the Department. This partnership will be led by the Department in collaboration with Civic Nation, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Urban League (NUL), Rise, the Student Debt Crisis Center, UnidosUS, and Young Invincibles.
 
The outreach campaign will build on the direct outreach underway by the Department of Education and Federal Student Aid to ensure borrowers know about the SAVE plan and other programs to help them access debt relief. In the coming days, the Department will contact nearly 30 million borrowers to invite them to apply for the SAVE plan. The direct-to-borrower communication will highlight how the new IDR application takes less than 10 minutes to fill out. The “SAVE on Student Debt” campaign and direct-to-borrower communications will also focus on enrolling borrowers into SAVE who will benefit the most from the plan but are often hardest to reach. Importantly, the new SAVE plan lowers barriers that previously stood in the way of higher enrollment rates of other IDR plans by streamlining repayment options, automatically enrolling delinquent borrowers who have given consent to access their tax information into the plan, and eliminating the need to manually recertify their income each year. This is part of the Department’s broader improvements to the student loan system and robust outreach campaign to support borrowers when the payment pause ends this fall.
 
Broader Efforts to Deliver Relief to Student Loan Borrowers

The SAVE plan builds on broader actions by the Biden-Harris Administration to deliver relief to student loan borrowers, fix problems in the student loan system, and make college more affordable. To date, the Biden-Harris Administration has cancelled more than $116 billion in student loan debt for 3.4 million Americans, including:

  • $39 billion for 804,000 borrowers as a result of fixes to IDR plans who have been in repayment for over 20 years but never got the relief they deserved
    • $45.7 billion for 662,000 public service workers
    • $10.5 billion for 491,000 borrowers who have a total and permanent disability; and
    • $22 billion for nearly 1.3 million borrowers who were cheated by their schools, saw their schools precipitously close, or are covered by related court settlements.

The Administration has also achieved the largest increases in Pell Grants in over a decade to help families who earn less than roughly $60,000 per year; fixed the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program so borrowers who go into public service get the debt relief they are entitled to; is holding colleges accountable for leaving students with mountains of debt and without good job prospects; and announced that it is pursuing an alternative path to deliver debt relief to as many student loan borrowers as possible, as quickly as possible in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Administration’s student debt relief plan.

Biden-Harris Administration Launches New Efforts to Strengthen America’s K-12 Schools’ Cybersecurity

Biden-Harris Administration announces new actions and private commitments to bolster the nation’s cyber defense at schools and protect American families
 
Administration leaders, school administrators, educators, and education technology providers will convene at the White House to discuss how to strengthen the nation’s schools’ cybersecurity amidst growing ransomware attacks
 

Biden-Harris Administration announced new actions and private commitments to bolster the nation’s cyber defense at schools and protect American families © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The United States has experienced an increase in cyberattacks that have targeted the nation’s schools in recent years.  In the 2022-23 academic year alone, at least eight K-12 school districts throughout the country were impacted by significant cyberattacks – four of which left schools having to cancel classes or close completely.  Not only have these attacks disrupted school operations, but they also have impacted students, their families, teachers, and administrators.  Sensitive personal information – including, student grades, medical records, documented home issues, behavioral information, and financial information – of students and employees were stolen and publicly disclosed. Additionally, sensitive information about school security systems was leaked online as a result of these attacks.

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, joined First Lady Jill Biden, to convene school administrators, educators and private sector companies to discuss best practices and new resources available to strengthen our schools’ cybersecurity, protect American families and schools, and prevent cyberattacks from disrupting our classrooms.
 
According to a 2022 U.S. Government Accountability Office report, the loss of learning following a cyberattack ranged from three days to three weeks, and recovery time can take anywhere from two to nine months.  Further, the monetary losses to school districts following a cyber incident ranged from $50,000 to $1 million. That is why the Biden-Harris Administration has had a relentless focus on securing our nation’s critical infrastructure since day one, and continues to work tirelessly to provide resources that enable the U.S.’s more than 13,000 school districts to better protect and defend their students and employees against cyberattacks.
 
The Administration is taking additional action and committing resources to strengthen the cybersecurity of the nation’s K-12 school systems, including: 

  • Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel is proposing establishing a pilot program under the Universal Service Fund to provide up to $200 million over three years to strengthen cyber defenses in K-12 schools and libraries in tandem with other federal agencies that have deep expertise in cybersecurity.
     
  • The U.S. Department of Education will establish a Government Coordinating Council (GCC) that will coordinate activities, policy, and communications between, and amongst, federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial education leaders to strengthen the cyber defenses and resilience of K-12 schools. By facilitating formal, ongoing collaboration between all levels of government and the education sector, the GCC will be a key first step in the Department’s strategy to protect schools and districts from cybersecurity threats and for supporting districts in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from cybersecurity attacks.
     
  • The U.S. Department of Education and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) jointly released K-12 Digital Infrastructure Brief: Defensible & Resilientthe second in a series of guidance documents to assist educational leaders in building and sustaining core digital infrastructure for learning.  Additional briefs released by the U.S. Department of Education include Adequate and Future-Proof and Privacy-Enhancing, Interoperable and Useful.
     
  • CISA is committing to providing tailored assessments, facilitating exercises, and delivering cybersecurity training for 300 new K-12 entities over the coming school year.  CISA plans to conduct 12 K-12 cyber exercises this year, averaging one per month, and is currently soliciting exercise requests from government and critical infrastructure partners, including the K-12 community.
     
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Guard Bureau are releasing updated resource guides to ensure state government and education officials know how to report cybersecurity incidents and can leverage the federal government’s cyber defense capabilities.

Additionally, several education technology providers are committing to providing free and low-cost resources to school districts, including:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) is committing the following: $20 million for a K-12 cyber grant program available to all school districts and state departments of education; free security training offerings tailored to K-12 IT staff delivered through AWS Skill Builder; and no-cost cyber incident response assistance through its Customer Incident Response Team in the event a school district experiences a cyberattack.  AWS will also provide free well-architected security reviews to U.S. education technology companies providing mission-critical applications to the K-12 community.
     
  • Cloudflare, through its Project Cybersafe Schools, will offer a suite of free Zero Trust cybersecurity solutions to public school districts under 2,500 students, to give small school districts faster, safer Internet browsing and email security.
     
  • PowerSchool, a provider of cloud-based K-12 software in the United States for 80% of school districts, will provide new free and subsidized “security as a service” courses, training, tools and resources to all U.S. schools and districts.
     
  • Google released an updated “K-12 Cybersecurity Guidebook” for schools on the most effective and impactful steps education systems can take to ensure the security of their Google hardware and software applications.
     
  • D2L, a learning platform company, is committing to: providing access to new cybersecurity courses in collaboration with trusted third-parties; extending its information security review for the core D2L integration partners; and pursuing additional third-party validation of D2L compliance with security standards.

The commitments made today will help ensure the nation’s schools are in the best position to secure their networks to keep their students, educators, and employees safe. This is the latest example of President Biden’s commitment to ease the everyday concerns facing Americans – from strengthening confidence in the safety of the devices brought into homes and classrooms to securing the cyber infrastructure of our nation’s schools. 

FACT SHEET: President Biden Announces Actions to Promote Educational Opportunity and Diversity in Colleges and Universities

Because access to higher education has been a means of breaking self-perpetuating cycles of poverty, and enabling those without the same advantages to fulfill their potential, affirmative action has been an excellent tool – in the absence of actual reparations – to redress the systemic barriers. The extremist ChristoFascist Supreme Court supermajority has ended affirmative action, calling it “unconstitutional” discrimination. It is part of a crusade to undo 50 years of policies aimed at promoting diversity, inclusion and equality. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Because access to higher education has been a means of breaking self-perpetuating cycles of poverty, and enabling those without the same advantages to fulfill their potential, affirmative action has been an excellent tool – in the absence of actual reparations – to redress the systemic barriers. The extremist ChristoFascist Supreme Court supermajority has ended affirmative action, calling it “unconstitutional” discrimination. It is part of a crusade to undo 50 years of policies aimed at promoting diversity, inclusion and equality.

Here is a Fact Sheet from the White House on actions President Biden is taking to promote educational opportunity and diversity in colleges and universities: –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today, the Supreme Court upended decades of precedent that enabled America’s colleges and universities to build vibrant diverse environments where students are prepared to lead and learn from one another. Although the Court’s decision threatens to move the country backwards, the Biden-Harris Administration will fight to preserve the hard-earned progress we have made to advance racial equity and civil rights and expand educational opportunity for all Americans.
 
As our nation’s colleges and universities consider their admissions processes in the wake of the Court’s decision, President Biden is calling on them to seize the opportunity to expand access to educational opportunity for all. Our nation is stronger when our colleges and universities reflect the vast and rich diversity of our people. But while talent, creativity, and hard work are everywhere across this country, equal opportunity is not.
 
Specifically, the President is calling on colleges and universities, when selecting among qualified applicants, to give serious consideration to the adversities 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, colleges and universities can fully value aspiring students who demonstrate resilience and determination in the face of deep challenges.
 
The Biden-Harris Administration is taking swift action to support our Nation’s colleges and universities so they can continue building pathways to upward mobility and success for all students to thrive in the American workforce and our Nation’s military. Specifically, the Biden-Harris Administration is:

  • Providing colleges and universities with clarity on what admissions practices and additional programs to support students remain lawful. The Department of Education and Department of Justice will provide resources to colleges and universities addressing lawful admissions practices within the next 45 days, as colleges prepare for the next application cycle. The Department of Education will also provide assistance to colleges and universities in administering programs to support students from underserved communities. 
  • Convening a National Summit on Educational Opportunity. The Department of Education will host a national summit on equal opportunity in postsecondary education next month with advocates, student leaders, college and university administrators, researchers, and state, local, and Tribal leaders to share lessons learned, innovative strategies, and develop additional resources for colleges and students to expand access to educational opportunity.
  • Releasing a report on strategies for increasing diversity and educational opportunity, including meaningful consideration of adversity. Following the Summit, the Department of Education will produce a report by this September, elevating promising admissions practices to build inclusive, diverse student bodies, including by using measures of adversity. The report will address topics including the impact of current admissions practices that may negatively affect the admissions chances of students from underserved communities; strategies to integrate measures of adversity in admissions; outreach and recruitment programs to create diverse applicant pools; strategies for retention and degree completion; and financial and other support programs to make college attainable.
  • Increasing transparency in college admissions and enrollment practices. The Administration is committed to providing transparent data with respect to admissions and enrollment. The Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics will consider ways to collect and publish more information related to college application and enrollment trends. This includes ways that information might be validly disaggregated by race and ethnicity, first-generation status, legacy status, and other measures. Information in these areas could help higher education leaders, academics and the general public address potential barriers to college recruitment, admissions, and enrollment.
  • Supporting states in analyzing data to increase access to educational opportunity for underserved communities. The Department of Education will assist states and Tribal nations in marshaling their data to improve college recruitment, admissions, and financial aid practices to devise strategies for increasing access to educational opportunity, such as partnerships to appropriately share and use education data, and direct admissions programs that proactively admit students based on factors such as academic performance and students’ geographic location – without requiring them to apply or pay an application fee. 

This work builds upon the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic efforts to ensure all students have the opportunity to access higher education by:

  • Securing a historic increase in the Pell Grants: The President championed the largest increase to Pell Grants in the last decade – a combined increase of $900 to the maximum award over the past two years to benefit low – and middle-income students.
  • Prioritizing college completion: The Biden-Harris Administration has championed efforts to improve postsecondary outcomes, particularly for students who face the greatest barriers to accessing and completing college. In response to the President Biden’s budget, Congress established a new Postsecondary Student Success Grant program to provide direct support to institutions to engage in evidence-based activities that support college re-enrollment, retention, and completion among individuals who are close to graduation.
  • Supporting America’s Minority-Serving Institutions: President Biden has secured historic investments in institutions that enroll and graduate disproportionate shares of low-income students and students of color, including tens of billions of dollars in funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority Serving Institutions, including Hispanic Serving Institutions through the Department of Education.
  • Fixing the broken student loan system: The Biden-Harris Administration has taken action to make the student loan system more manageable for current and future borrowers and reduce the burden of student debt, including by:
    • Cutting monthly payments in half for undergraduate loans. The Department of Education is proposing an income-driven repayment plan that protects more low-income borrowers from making any payments and caps monthly payments for undergraduate loans at 5% of a borrower’s discretionary income – half of the rate that borrowers must pay now under existing plans. The average annual student loan payment will be lowered by more than $1,000 for both current and future student borrowers who owe payments.
    • Fixing the broken Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program by ensuring that borrowers who have worked at a qualifying nonprofit organization, in the military, or in federal, state, Tribal, or local government, receive appropriate credit towards loan forgiveness. These regulatory changes build on temporary changes the Department of Education made to PSLF, under which roughly 616,000 public servants received more than $42 billion in loan forgiveness.
    • Ensuring targeted student loan forgiveness programs work. Including its reforms to PSLF, the Department of Education has approved a total of more than $66 billion in relief to over 2.2 million student loan borrowers, including many who were defrauded by their college, enrolled in a college that abruptly closed, or are permanently disabled and unable to work.


Vice President Harris on the Supreme Court’s ruling in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina
 

Today’s Supreme Court decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina is a step backward for our nation. It rolls back long-established precedent and will make it more difficult for students from underrepresented 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. Colleges and universities provide opportunities for students to interact with Americans from all walks of life and learn from one another. By making our schools less diverse, this ruling will harm the educational experience for all students.
 
Our Nation’s colleges and universities educate and train the next generation of American leaders. 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.
 
In the wake of this decision, we must work with ever more urgency to make sure that all of our young people have an opportunity to thrive. 

FACT SHEET: Biden Announces New Actions to Provide Debt Relief and Support for Student Loan Borrowers

A college diploma was supposed to be a ticket into the middle class, instead of the poor house. After the extremists on the Supreme Court declared President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program “unconstitutional” he took immediate steps to provide support, while vowing to pursue other means. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

No President has fought harder for student debt relief than President Biden, and he’s not done yet. “President Biden will not let Republican elected officials succeed in denying hardworking Americans the relief they need,” the White House stated. Biden gets it. He understands how lives are being upended, derailed, ambitions curtailed, because of crippling student loan debt that, as a reminder, is the ONLY DEBT that cannot be erased through bankruptcy. Think about it, how many Republican Congressmembers took advantage of COVID relief loan forgiveness, intended to help employers retain workers, but can’t find a way of making the loan obligation fair, when interest rates for others were at near zero. If they don’t allow forgiveness of the entire loan, they should get rid of the onerous, unjustified interest that is compounding, and provide a fair means to repay the principle.

For so many, a college degree has been their ticket into the middle class, home ownership, a legacy for their children, and a means of finally ending the cycle of poverty. College tuition has been increasing an ungodly rates, two and three times the cost of living – because the colleges can – which is why the balances for loan repayment are so high. Biden sought to address the injustice and the imbalance by giving student borrowers the same advantage he gave businesses to stay afloat and prevent the economic hardship of the historic pandemic from becoming a Greater Great Depression.

Here is a fact sheet of new actions Biden is taking to provide debt relief and support for student loan borrowers –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
 
In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling this morning, President Biden and his Administration have already taken two steps this afternoon aimed at providing debt relief for as many borrowers as possible, as fast as possible, and supporting student loan borrowers:

  • The Secretary of Education initiated a rulemaking process aimed at opening an alternative path to debt relief for as many working and middle-class borrowers as possible, using the Secretary’s authority under the Higher Education Act.
     
  • The Department of Education (Department) finalized the most affordable repayment plan ever created, ensuring that borrowers will be able to take advantage of this plan this summer—before loan payments are due. This plan helps the typical borrower save more than $1,000 a year.

In addition, to protect the most vulnerable borrowers from the worst consequences of missed payments following the payment restart, the Department is instituting a 12-month “on-ramp” to repayment, running from October 1, 2023 to September 30, 2024, so that financially vulnerable borrowers who miss monthly payments during this period are not considered delinquent, reported to credit bureaus, placed in default, or referred to debt collection agencies.

These actions reflect the President’s belief that an education beyond high school should be a ticket to the middle class. It also builds on the unprecedented steps President Biden and his Administration have taken to make college more affordable for working and middle-class families and make federal student loans more manageable. The Biden-Harris Administration has:

  • Secured the largest increases to Pell Grants in a decade.
     
  • Fixed broken student loan programs such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness, so borrowers actually get the relief they deserve.
     
  • Approved more than $66 billion in loan cancellation for 2.2 million borrowers across the country, including public service workers and those who have been defrauded by their colleges.
     

Debt Relief for As Many Borrowers as Possible, as Fast as Possible
 
The President remains committed to providing relief to low- and middle-income borrowers. For too many Americans, a ticket to the middle-class remains out of reach because of unmanageable student loan debt. COVID-19 exacerbated that challenge – risking tens of millions of borrowers’ financial security and futures because of the economic harms brought on by a once-in-a-century pandemic.
 
Today, the Department initiated rulemaking aimed at opening an alternative path to debt relief for as many borrowers as possible, using the Secretary of Education’s authority under the Higher Education Act. The Department issued a notice, which is the first step in the process of issuing new regulations under this so-called “negotiated rulemaking” process. The notice announces a virtual public hearing on July 18th and solicits written comments from stakeholders on topics to consider.
 
Following the public hearing, the Department will finalize the issues to be addressed through rulemaking and begin the negotiated rulemaking sessions this fall. The Department will complete this rulemaking as quickly as possible.

 
Lowering Monthly Payments
 
The Biden-Harris Administration today also finalized the most affordable repayment plan ever created, called the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan. This income-driven repayment plan will cut borrowers’ monthly payments in half, help the typical borrower save more than $1,000 per year on payments, allow many borrowers to make $0 monthly payments, and ensure borrowers don’t see their balances grow from unpaid interest.
 
Specifically, the plan will:

  • For undergraduate loans, cut in half the amount that borrowers have to pay each month from 10% to 5% of discretionary income.
  • Raise the amount of income that is considered non-discretionary income and therefore is protected from repayment, guaranteeing that no borrower earning under 225% of the federal poverty level—about the annual equivalent of a $15 minimum wage for a single borrower—will have to make a monthly payment under this plan.
  • Forgive loan balances after 10 years of payments, instead of 20 years, for borrowers with original loan balances of $12,000 or less. The Department estimates that this reform will allow nearly all community college borrowers to be debt-free within 10 years.
  • Not charge borrowers with unpaid monthly interest, so that unlike other existing income-driven repayment plans, no borrower’s loan balance will grow as long as they make their monthly payments—even when that monthly payment is $0 because their income is low.

All student borrowers in repayment will be eligible to enroll in the SAVE plan. They will be able to enroll later this summer, before any monthly payments are due. Borrowers who sign up or are already signed up for the current Revised Pay as You Earn (REPAYE) plan will be automatically enrolled in SAVE once the new plan is implemented. To learn more about the new SAVE plan, visit the Department of Education’s website.

 
Ensuring Support for Borrowers Most at Risk
 
To protect the most vulnerable borrowers, the Department is creating a temporary “on-ramp” to protect borrowers from the harshest consequences of late, missed, or partial payments for up to 12 months. While payments will be due and interest will accrue during this period, interest will not capitalize at the end of the on-ramp period. Additionally, borrowers will not be reported to credit bureaus, be considered in default, or referred to collection agencies for late, missed, or partial payments during the on-ramp period. Future monthly bills for borrowers not enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan will be automatically adjusted to reflect the accrued interest during those months.
 
Borrowers who can pay should do so, but this on-ramp period gives borrowers who cannot make payments right away the necessary time to adjust, enabling them to ultimately make their monthly payments and meet their financial obligations on their loans. Borrowers do not need to take any action to qualify for this on-ramp.

Biden Administration Introduces New Regulations to Reduce Cost of Federal Student Loan Payments

The Biden Administration’s proposed regulations for a Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plan would create the most affordable income-driven repayment (IDR) plan that has ever been made available to student loan borrowers, simplify the program, and eliminate common pitfalls that have historically delayed borrowers’ progress toward forgiveness and provide student debt relief to some 40 million borrowers © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Despite ongoing opposition by Republicans, President Joe Biden continues to introduce programs to relieve the burden of student loans. This is a fact sheet from the Department of Education describing a Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plan to provide student debt relief for 40 million borrowers:

Today, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) proposed regulations to reduce the cost of federal student loan payments, especially for low and middle-income borrowers. The regulations fulfill the commitment President Biden laid out in August when he announced his Administration’s plan to provide student debt relief for approximately 40 million borrowers and make the student loan system more manageable for student borrowers. The proposed regulations would create the most affordable income-driven repayment (IDR) plan that has ever been made available to student loan borrowers, simplify the program, and eliminate common pitfalls that have historically delayed borrowers’ progress toward forgiveness.  

“Today the Biden-Harris administration is proposing historic changes that would make student loan repayment more affordable and manageable than ever before,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “We cannot return to the same broken system we had before the pandemic, when a million borrowers defaulted on their loans a year and snowballing interest left millions owing more than they initially borrowed. These proposed regulations will cut monthly payments for undergraduate borrowers in half and create faster pathways to forgiveness, so borrowers can better manage repayment, avoid delinquency and default, and focus on building brighter futures for themselves and their families.” 

The proposed regulations would amend the terms of the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plan to offer $0 monthly payments for any individual borrower who makes less than roughly $30,600 annually and any borrower in a family of four who makes less than about $62,400. The regulations would also cut in half monthly payments on undergraduate loans for borrowers who do not otherwise have a $0 payment in this plan. The proposed regulations would also ensure that borrowers stop seeing their balances grow due to the accumulation of unpaid interest after making their monthly payments.  

While these regulations would provide critical relief to student borrowers, the Biden-Harris Administration is also committed to ensuring postsecondary institutions and programs are held accountable if they leave borrowers with unaffordable debts. The Department is currently working on a proposed gainful employment regulation that would cut off federal financial aid to career training programs that fail to provide sufficient financial value and require warnings for borrowers who attend any program that leaves graduates with excessive debts. The same regulatory package will also include proposals to strengthen the conditions that can be placed on institutions that fail to meet the requirements of the Higher Education Act or exhibit signs of risk.  

The Department is also taking steps today to carry out President Biden’s announcement from August that the Department would publish a list of the programs at all types of colleges and universities that provide the least financial value to students. To advance this effort, the Department is publishing a request for information to seek formal public feedback on the best way to identify the programs that provide the least financial value for students. This public comment process will ensure the Department is carefully considering a range of perspectives and considerations as it constructs the list. Once the list is published, institutions with programs on this list will be asked to submit improvement plans to the Department to improve their financial value.  

Estimated effects of the proposed IDR Plan 

The proposed regulatory changes would substantially reduce monthly debt burdens and lifetime payments, especially for low and middle-income borrowers, community college students, and borrowers who work in public service. Overall, the Department estimates that the plan would have the following effects compared to the existing REPAYE plan: 

  • Future cohorts of borrowers would see their total payments per dollar borrowed decrease by 40%. Borrowers with the lowest projected lifetime earnings would see payments that are 83% less, while those in the top would only see a 5% reduction. 
  • A typical graduate of a four-year public university would save nearly $2,000 a year relative to the current REPAYE plan. 
  • A first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree would save more than $17,000 in total payments while pursuing Public Service Loan Forgiveness—a two-thirds reduction in what they would pay in total under REPAYE.  
  • 85% of community college borrowers would be debt-free within 10 years
  • On average, Black, Hispanic, American Indian and Alaska Native borrowers would see their lifetime payments per dollar borrowed cut in half. 

Building on an Unparalleled Record of Debt Relief 

The draft regulations build upon the work the Biden-Harris Administration has already done to improve the student loan program, make colleges more affordable, approve $48 billion in targeted relief to nearly 2 million student loan borrowers, and fight to provide up to $20,000 in one-time debt relief to over 40 million eligible borrowers, including 26 million who have already applied. These regulations also propose to build on the Administration’s commitment to ensuring IDR plans deliver relief to eligible borrowers. This includes ongoing steps to provide accurate counts of progress toward forgiveness for borrowers through a one-time account adjustment

The proposed regulations and request for information will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow. The public may comment on both documents through the Regulations.gov website for 30 days. The Department expects to finalize the rules later this year and aims to start implementing some provisions later this year, subject to any changes made based on public comments. 

View an unofficial copy of proposed IDR regulation here and a fact sheet with further information here. View an unofficial copy of the RFI here, and a fact sheet with further information here.

Fighting for Debt Relief at the Supreme Court

Since President Biden first announced his intention to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for the vast majority of borrowers, opponents of student debt relief have filed legal challenges seeking to halt this effort. In December, the Supreme Court agreed to hear two of these challenges– Nebraska v. Biden (recaptioned Biden v. Nebraska at the Supreme Court), brought by Republican officials in Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Iowa, and Brown v. Biden (recaptioned Biden v. Brown at the Supreme Court), a challenge brought by student loan borrowers in Texas and funded by a right-wing dark-money group. 

Today, an historic coalition of cities, states, experts, and advocates filed more than a dozen amicus curiae briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Biden Administration’s student debt relief program. 

This week’s briefs support the Justice Department’s effort to defend this policy before the nation’s highest court. To date, more than 26 million Americans have applied for student debt relief and more than 40 million Americans are expected to benefit when this program is fully implemented.

Leaders and public officials join law scholars, economists, sociologists, higher education and public policy experts from across the political and ideological spectrum in briefing the high court. The briefs represent the breadth of communities that stand to benefit from student debt relief, including working people, borrowers of color, veterans, older people, people of faith, along with cities and states across the country. Together, these briefs showcase the broad support, strong legal foundation, and urgent economic necessity underpinning President Biden’s effort to cancel student debt for 40 million Americans.

Amici Curiae Quote Sheet is available here: https://protectborrowers.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Student-Debt-Relief-Amici-Curiae-Quote-Sheet.pdf

Amici Curiae Summaries and Highlights are available here: https://protectborrowers.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/Student-Debt-Relief-Amici-Curiae-Summaries-and-Highlights.pdf

The amicus curiae briefs filed in support of the U.S. Department of Justice in Biden v. Nebraska and Biden v. Brown include:

Biden Administration Supports Teachers – Let’s Count the Ways

On World Teachers’ Day, October 5, the White House issued this fact sheet showing the ways the Biden-Harris Administration is standing up in support of teachers, when in many locales, teachers have been under attack. In Florida, for example, any parent can sue a teacher if they take offense with what is being taught, and expects teachers to be human shields for mass murderers – no wonder Florida is short 9,000 in the classroom.

Our teachers prepare and inspire the next generation of leaders who are critical to our future. On World Teachers’ Day, October 5, First Lady Jill Biden appeared on The Kelly Clarkson Show for an hour-long special dedicated to teachers, and participated in Pinterest’s day-long livestream to celebrate teachers, featuring top educator creators from across the country. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to celebrating and elevating the teaching profession, and to addressing the challenges facing teachers by taking comprehensive actions to recruit, respect, and retain educators.
 
To Recruit, Respect, and Retain teachers and other school staff we must:

  • Pay educators competitively: President Biden has long called for increases in teacher pay. On average, teachers make about 33 percent less than other college-educated professionals. We cannot address staffing shortages impacting schools without addressing paying teachers a livable and competitive wage.
     
  • Improve working conditions: Whether it’s sufficient planning time and staffing levels, opportunities for leadership and collaboration with peers, or clean air to breathe and cool classrooms during heat waves, educators need working conditions that are conducive to teaching and to students’ learning.
     
  • Expand high-quality pathways into teaching: In 2016, 340,000 fewer students enrolled in educator preparation programs than in 2008, a 28 percent decline over less than a decade. Providing high-quality pathways into teaching, such as Grow Your Own and residency programs, and removing barriers, such as affordability, can help more people answer the call to become teachers and improve teacher retention and effectiveness.

 
The Biden-Harris Administration has taken concrete actions to advance these goals.
 
American Rescue Plan
 
President’s Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) provided $122 billion to the nation’s K-12 schools. The President, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, and U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh have urged states and districts to use these funds to increase compensation for teachers, invest in teacher pipeline programs, and hire more professionals across the education workforce. These investments not only provide greater supports to students, but also reduce the burden on current teachers. With the help of the ARP, there are 261,000 more jobs in local education than when President Biden took office. As of July, ARP funding has helped school districts increase the number of school social workers by 54 percent, increase counselors by 22 percent, and increase nurses by 22 percent, compared to the pre-pandemic period. For example:

  • Iowa is using ARP funds to train 500 new paraeducators and 500 new teachers. Starting this year, the program will help current high school students and adults earn a paraeducator certificate and associate degree, and paraeducators to earn a bachelor’s degree and teaching license – all while learning and working in the classroom.
     
  • Gaston County Schools in North Carolina used ARP funds to double their nursing staff and secure a nurse for each of their 54 school locations, so that nurses no longer have to split their time between two buildings.

ARP funds are also being used to improve the physical working conditions of teachers and learning conditions for students by addressing critical health and safety issues. It’s estimated that schools are investing $10 billion of their ARP funds in HVAC systems alone, and another $5 billion in other repairs to address health and safety issues.  
 
Additional Federal Investments in Teacher Recruitment and Preparation
 
Through Department of Education grants, the Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized supporting teachers in a wide array of Fiscal Year 2022 grants, particularly investing in high-quality teacher preparation programs that include robust experience in the classroom before becoming a teacher. These programs recruit more diverse teachers, better prepare them for the classroom, and increase the likelihood of teachers staying in the profession. The President has called for an additional $590 million investment in teachers in his FY23 budget.
 
New investments under the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program to help ensure long-term support for teacher pipeline and development programs across the country. The 22 new three-year grants totaling more than $60 million include:

  • The National Center for Teacher Residencies will increase the number of effective teacher residents from diverse backgrounds in underserved schools, districts, and subjects by boosting teacher residency programs across Connecticut, Delaware, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. 
     
  • The New Orleans SEED program will address persistent teacher shortages by boosting pathways into the profession through the expansion of Grow-Your-Own pathways. By 2025, the project hopes to recruit, prepare, and place 550 teachers in underserved schools and have more than 200 high school students in its teacher pipeline.

 
New Teacher Quality Partnership awards to help recruit, prepare, develop, and retain a strong and diverse teacher workforce. The 22 five-year grants totaling $24.7 million include:

  • In Winston-Salem/Forsyth County, North Carolina, funds will support a residency program that will recruit, prepare and retain 120 special education, elementary and secondary teachers in high-need schools.
     
  • Funds will support a Grow Your Own program in Gwinnett County, Georgia, that will support alumni of Gwinnett County Public Schools in returning to the community as teachers after they graduate from college.

 For the first time, this year the Department of Education will also award grants under the Augustus F. Hawkins program to support teacher preparation programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Minority Serving Institutions.
 
The Department of Labor has also committed to prioritizing the education sector in future apprenticeship funding, including its next round of over $100 million in apprenticeship grants. This will provide critical support for states and other partners looking to start and expand teacher apprenticeship programs, which allow individuals to earn while they learn, receiving pay while they gain teaching skills and take coursework to earn their teaching license. 
 
Ensuring Education Jobs Are Good Jobs
 
Schools cannot recruit or retain the teachers they need unless jobs in education are good jobs. Adjusted for inflation, the average weekly wages of public school teachers only increased by $29 between 1996 and 2021. Beyond calling for better pay and encouraging the use of ARP funds for this purpose, the Administration has taken concrete action to address teacher compensation.
 
Sustained Funding to Increase Teacher Pay: To increase teacher pay, schools need more funding. President Biden’s budgets have proposed an additional $20 billion for Title I—which supports schools serving students from low-income backgrounds—more than doubling funding for this program. These resources would help schools increase teacher pay and close gaps in access to educational opportunity. As roughly 92 percent of funding for public schools comes from the state and local level, state and local leaders must also take decisive action to provide schools with the resources they need to pay teachers competitively and to close funding gaps undermining schools serving low-income communities.
 
Reducing Student Debt for Teachers: Too many teachers are burdened with so much student debt that they feel like they cannot stay in the classroom. Debt also keeps many prospective teachers from entering the profession. The Administration has taken decisive action to provide more breathing room to America’s working families, including teachers, as they continue to recover from the strains associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.   

  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF): Earlier this year, the Biden-Harris Administration made temporary changes to the PSLF program that make it easier than ever for public servants, like teachers and school staff, to receive loan forgiveness or get credit toward loan forgiveness. To date, the Department of Education has approved more than $13 billion in forgiveness for more than 211,000 public servants under this waiver. To benefit from the temporary changes, borrowers must apply and certify their employment for the period of time they wish to count toward PSLF by October 31, 2022 using this Help Tool. For more information, visit www.PSLF.gov. Teachers who previously received Teacher Loan Forgiveness can now also count those years used toward the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program toward PSLF but they must certify those years by October 31. The Administration has also proposed regulatory changes to ensure more effective implementation of PSLF moving forward.
     
  • TEACH Grant: The Department is implementing improvements to the TEACH Grant program, which provides up to $16,000 in grants to teachers who commit to teaching in a high need school and field for 4 years.
     
  • Cancelling and Reforming Student Debt: In addition to the one-time student debt relief of up to $20,000 announced by President Biden in August, the Biden-Harris Administration has proposed a plan to reduce the burden of student debt through reforms to income-driven repayment plans. Under the proposed plan, borrowers will have more income protected and monthly payments on undergraduate loans will be cut in half – from 10 percent to 5 percent of their discretionary income.

FACT SHEET: Back to School 2022 – Giving Every School the Tools to Prevent COVID-19 Spread and Stay Safely Open All Year Long

As another school year gets underway, the Biden Administration is laying out key supports and guidance for protecting students, teachers, and school communities this upcoming school year, and managing and mitigating the risks of COVID-19 spread. This includes making an abundance of federal resources available to schools to implement these strategies. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The White House provided this fact sheet of what the Biden administration is doing to prevent COVID-19 spread and keep schools safe and open all year long:

When President Biden took office, less than half of K-12 schools were open for in-person learning. The President made getting schools safely reopened and our children back in the classroom a top priority. Over the past 18 months, driven by the President’s American Rescue Plan and a comprehensive COVID-19 response, the Biden-Harris Administration has provided schools with unprecedented resources to reopen safely, while keeping students and workers safe. As a result, all schools were open this past school year. Now, as students, educators, and school staff get ready for another school year, every school in America has the tools it needs to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and its impact, to open safely, to stay open all year long, and to ensure that students are back in the classroom full-time.
 
Because of the investments the Administration has made — including $122 billion in American Rescue Plan funding to keep schools open safely, combat learning loss, and address student mental health — and because of the tools we now have in place, we can prevent school closures, even as COVID-19 cases in a community fluctuate.
 
Today, as we start another school year, the Administration is laying out key supports and guidance for protecting students, teachers, and school communities this upcoming school year, and managing and mitigating the risks of COVID-19 spread. This includes making an abundance of federal resources available to schools to implement these strategies.
 
These resources and guidance include:

Using COVID-19 vaccines and boosters as the first line of defense to protect in-person learning. Every American age 6 months and over is eligible to get vaccinated, and everyone age 5 and over is eligible for a booster shot after completing their primary series. Getting vaccinated and staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations are the most important ways that we can minimize the most serious impacts that COVID-19 can have on our children, their teachers, and their school communities. Schools, early care and education programs, and health departments can promote vaccination in many ways:

  • Getting school staff boosted against COVID-19: The Administration will work with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) – which collectively represent more than 5 million teachers and school staff – to encourage members to get a COVID-19 booster as they return to school and during the fall. The Administration will provide materials that the organizations can use, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Stay Up to Date with Your COVID-19 Vaccines page and Booster tool, as well as information about where and how they can get a COVID-19 booster in their communities using Vaccines.gov. AFT and NEA will highlight the opportunity to get a second booster for their members age 50 and over who have not gotten a booster shot this calendar year, with an additional focus on communicating with their retirees.
  • Hosting school-located vaccine clinics nationwide: The Administration is once again calling on all school districts to host at least one school-located vaccine clinic at the start of the school year, and it is providing resources to help schools do so. The CDC has made information and recommendations for hosting clinics available in its guide for planning school vaccination clinics, and American Rescue Plan and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds are available to help cover the costs of hosting a vaccine clinic. Throughout the last school year, pharmacies in the federal pharmacy program supported schools nationwide in hosting thousands of school-located vaccine clinics.
  • Encouraging children to catch up on routine childhood vaccines: CDC is working with providers and the public to encourage families to catch up on routine childhood vaccinations that protect them against preventable diseases such as polio, measles, and whooping cough. As part of these efforts, CDC will apply lessons learned and focus on rebuilding and reconnecting with communities and partners to encourage routine vaccinations.

 
Providing robust access to COVID-19 testing at schools to help detect infection early. Diagnostic testing is a helpful strategy that all schools can use to understand whether students, staff, or family members have COVID-19 when they are symptomatic or have been exposed to the virus. Additionally, CDC advises in its latest Operational Guidance for K-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs that schools in areas with high COVID-19 Community Levels can consider screening testing strategies for their students and staff for high-risk activities and for key events and times of the year. Last year, the Administration made millions of COVID-19 tests and supports available for free to schools, and will continue to do so in the school year ahead:

  • Providing free access to COVID-19 tests: The Administration will extend the efforts it launched last January in making millions of COVID-19 tests freely available to schools each month. This will include 5 million over-the-counter rapid tests, 5 million swab-and-send PCR tests, and additional point-of-care rapid tests, all of which will now be available to order through January 2023. During the last half of the 2021-22 school year, schools requested and received more than 30 million tests through this program. In addition, schools may supplement their test supplies through extended use of the $10 billion allocated to K-12 school testing through the CDC Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity program, which states are now authorized to use through the upcoming 2022-23 school year.
  • Expanding access to COVID-19 testing to child care and early learning programs: COVID-19 tests will also now be available to early childhood care and education sites through the same distribution channel available to K-12 schools. Early care and education centers are invaluable community institutions that help keep our economy running, help parents stay at work, and help businesses remain strong. Child care programs have been essential in our fight against COVID-19.

 
Improving indoor air quality across America’s school buildings. Effective ventilation and air filtration are important parts of COVID-19 prevention. In addition to other layered prevention strategies, taking actions to improve indoor air quality can reduce the risk of exposure to particles, aerosols, and other contaminants, reduce the spread of COVID-19, and improve the health of building occupants. The American Rescue Plan and other federal dollars may be used to make indoor air quality improvements, and the Administration will continue to provide supports to schools to help in making these improvements:

  • Helping schools plan and implement indoor air quality improvements, including through use of federal funds: Schools can use funding provided through the American Rescue Plan to improve ventilation in schools by making inspections, repairs, upgrades, and replacements in Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning systems; purchasing and installing air conditioners, fans, portable air cleaners, and germicidal UV light systems; repairing windows, doors, and dampers that let fresh air into school buildings; and more. To support this work, the Environmental Protection Agency’s  Clean Air in Buildings Challenge and its Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools provides specific steps schools can take to improve indoor air quality and reduce the risk of airborne spread of viruses and other contaminants. CDC has published guidance on Ventilation in Schools and Childcare Programs, including an Interactive School Ventilation Tool that shows how particle levels change as you adjust ventilation settings. The Department of Energy (DOE) has launched the Efficient and Healthy Schools campaign to support investments and improvements for healthy school facilities, including through recognition, training, technical assistance, and 1-1 consultations on indoor air quality with individual schools and districts.
  • Connecting schools with experts to provide support for indoor air quality: The Administration is collaborating with organizations that provide expert guidance and technical support from skilled, trained, and qualified technicians to help make indoor air quality improvements easier for schools to navigate. HVAC professional associations, including the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning EngineersInternational Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation WorkersNational Energy Management Institute, and the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association, are committed to working with schools to help them develop and implement plans to improve ventilation and can help schools get connected to local technical experts.
  • Recognizing champion schools and districts who are leading the way on indoor air quality: Over the coming months, the Administration will highlight school districts excelling in efforts to improve indoor air quality. This includes efforts through the DOE and Department of Education (ED) to support and uplift schools and districts undertaking critical work in indoor air quality. DOE’s Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign will be announcing criteria for recognition for the upcoming school year in the coming weeks, with a continued priority on projects that accelerate indoor air quality improvements. ED’s Green Ribbon Schools program allows schools to earn federal accolades for their sustainability work that exhibits indoor air quality, resource efficiency and conservation, and environmental learning. 

Additionally, ED will continue to work with CDC to help ensure that K-12 schools and early care and education centers know and understand the latest guidance on COVID-19 mitigation and how they can remain safely open for full-time in-person learning throughout the upcoming school year. CDC’s latest Operational Guidance for K-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs to Support Safe In-Person Learning includes updated recommendations aligned with COVID-19 Community Levels, including information on when to mask, how to manage cases and exposures, and best practices for responding to outbreaks. Some students may need additional protections to ensure that they can remain safe in the classroom – including students who are immunocompromised, with complex medical conditions, or with other disabilities that may put them at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19. ED will continue to work with schools on strategies to ensure all students can access safe, in-person instruction.

Biden Reacts to June Inflation Report: Inflation Still Unacceptably High But Data Out of Date, Does Not Reflect Drop in Gas Prices

High energy prices account for half of the increase in June’s CPI report, but prices have been falling for almost a month © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Joe Biden reacted to the June inflation report saying that while inflation is still unacceptably high, the report is out-of-date, failing to take into account that gas prices – which accounts for a significant amount of the inflation rate – have gone down for nearly 30 days, reducing the price at the pump by 40 cents since mid-June. Still, he said, “inflation is our most pressing economic challenge,” just as it is around the world. Here is his statement the June CPI Inflation report as provided by the White House:

While today’s headline inflation reading is unacceptably high, it is also out-of-date. Energy alone comprised nearly half of the monthly increase in inflation. Today’s data does not reflect the full impact of nearly 30 days of decreases in gas prices, that have reduced the price at the pump by about 40 cents since mid-June. Those savings are providing important breathing room for American families. And, other commodities like wheat have fallen sharply since this report.
 
Importantly, today’s report shows that what economists call annual “core inflation” came down for the third month in a row, and is the first month since last year where the annual “core” inflation rate is below six percent.  
 Inflation is our most pressing economic challenge. It is hitting almost every country in the world. It is little comfort to Americans to know that inflation is also high in Europe, and higher in many countries there than in America.  But it is a reminder that all major economies are battling this COVID-related challenge, made worse by Putin’s unconscionable aggression.
 
Tackling inflation is my top priority – we need to make more progress, more quickly, in getting price increases under control. Here is what I will do:
 
First, I will continue to do everything I can to bring down the price of gas. I will continue my historic release of oil from our strategic petroleum reserve. I will continue working with our European allies to put a price cap on Russian oil – sapping Putin of oil revenue. And, I will continue to work with the U.S. oil and gas industry to increase production responsibly — already, the U.S. is producing 12.1 million barrels of oil per day and is on track to break records.
 
But I will also continue to insist – as I have with urgency recently – that reductions in the price of oil must produce lower gas prices for consumers at the pump.  The price of oil is down about 20% since mid-June, but the price of gas has so far only fallen half as much. Oil and gas companies must not use this moment as an excuse for profiting by not passing along savings at the pump.  
 
Second, I will urge Congress to act, this month, on legislation to reduce the cost of everyday expenses that are hitting American families, from prescription drugs to utility bills to health insurance premiums and to make more in America.
 
Third, I will continue to oppose any efforts by Republicans – as they have proposed during this campaign year — to make things worse by raising taxes on working people, or putting Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every five years.
 
Finally, I will continue to give the Federal Reserve the room it needs to help it combat inflation.

DoE Seeks Input for $500 Million Grant Program for Energy Upgrades to 100,000 Public Schools

The U.S. Department of Energy released a Request for Information for a $500 million grant program from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for K-12 public school energy upgrades. The program will help deliver cleaner and healthier classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, playgrounds, and gyms where over three million teachers teach and 50 million students learn, eat, and build friendships every day. Energy upgrades to America’s public schools, including leveraging renewable power sources and electric school buses, will bring the nation closer to President Biden’s goal to build a net-zero economy by 2050. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

WASHINGTON, D.C.— As part the new Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a Request for Information (RFI) for a $500 million grant program from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for K-12 public school energy upgrades. The program will help deliver cleaner and healthier classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, playgrounds, and gyms where over three million teachers teach and 50 million students learn, eat, and build friendships every day. Energy upgrades to America’s public schools, including leveraging renewable power sources and electric school buses, will bring the nation closer to President Biden’s goal to build a net-zero economy by 2050. 

“Children should be able to learn and grow in environments that are not plagued with poor insulation and ventilation, leaky roofs, or poor heating and cooling,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “President Biden fought for these funds to give schools and their communities the resources they need to improve student and teacher health and cut energy costs, allowing districts to focus more resources on student learning.” 

Many of America’s public schools are in desperate need of energy improvements. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s 100,000 public K-12 schools a D+ in their 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure report. Dilapidated school facilities can negatively affect student learning and health as indoor air quality problems can aggravate respiratory illnesses, reduce student and teacher attendance and performance, and increase risk of transmission of respiratory infections like COVID-19. 

Energy consumption is the second-highest operational expense schools face with a significant portion of this energy lost through leaky school walls, windows, and other inefficient equipment and systems. Districts that serve rural, high poverty, or Hispanic/Latino, African American, and Native American communities experience the greatest burden of failing or antiquated school facilities. 

Public school facilities will be eligible for energy improvements that result in a direct reduction in school energy costs, including improvements to the air conditioning and heating, ventilation, hot water heating, and lighting systems. In addition, funding would support any improvement, repair, renovation to, or installation in a school that leads to an improvement in teacher and student health.  

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s grant funding will also support additional improvements, repairs, or renovations such as the installation of renewable energy technologies, the installation of alternative fueled vehicle infrastructure on school grounds such as school buses or the purchase or lease of alternative fueled vehicles to be used by a school. 

DOE encourages Local Education Agencies, school staff, states, local governments, energy service companies, unions, service providers, and utilities to respond to the RFI. 

The deadline to submit your response to this RFI is May 18, 2022, at 5 p.m. ET. Download the RFI to see the full list of questions and instructions on how to submit your response.