The Fiscal Year 2017 Budget: Promoting Greater Use of Evidence and Data as a Lever for Advancing Equity

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Over the last seven years, the Obama Administration and the Department of Education have pioneered efforts that encourage grantees and practitioners to use evidence of what works in education in ways that can improve student outcomes. A focus on evidence and data also can be a powerful tool to advance equity.

For example, under our new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states will establish new accountability systems that will include indicators of success that reflect a broad picture of how schools are serving all children, and not just in academics. States could decide to look at information about students’ socioemotional growth, for instance, and whether schools are helping children develop skills like resilience and the ability to effectively collaborate with peers. States also could examine data and trends related to chronic absenteeism, and ensure schools are intervening when students are missing too much class time. Educators could analyze students’ academic achievement and better target supports that may help struggling students to master certain skills or become proficient in English. The use of robust information can be leveraged by teachers, local educational agencies, and states to advance equity and excellence throughout our education system.

Both the Administration and the Department have made evidence-based grant programs, such as Investing in Innovation (i3) and First in the World (FITW), a priority and have significantly scaled up the use of evidence-based grant-making. In close partnership with the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), grantees and researchers are working together to draw from—and expand—the body of high-quality research about promising practices and proven strategies in education so that schools, districts, and states can leverage this information in their decision making.

The 2017 budget would support states and local educational agencies both with their use of data and evidence on what works—from research studies and evaluations. For example, funds for IES would be used to improve data-informed decision making at all levels by increasing resources dedicated to research awards that build the evidence base for what works in education.

The priority projects outlined in the budget also would increase data transparency. A great example of this work is the College Scorecard, which was launched in September 2015. The College Scorecard provides students, parents, and the public with unprecedented amounts of information about college costs, financial aid, and graduation rates at colleges and universities—all in one place.

Finally, the budget would strengthen the ways in which the Department shares research and information so that everyone—from educators and students, to policymakers and administrators, to schools and communities—can have greater access to the data and research they need, in digestible formats, to inform everyday decisions.

Here is a quick snapshot of how the 2017 budget invests in evidence and data, across three priority areas:

Increasing Equity and Excellence in Education:

  • $180 million for the Education Innovation and Research program, an increase of $60 million, or 50 percent, for the successor to the Investing in Innovation (i3) program to expand support for evidence-based initiatives to develop, validate, and scale up effective education interventions that will help states and local educational agencies to meet requirements under federal law.
  • $44.3 million for IDEA Technical Assistance and Dissemination, an increase of $10 million, to substantially increase the Administration’s investment in model demonstration projects to build the evidence-base for promising practices in critical areas such as interventions for students with autism who require intensive services and support.

Providing Support for Teachers and School Leaders:

  • $100 million for the reauthorized Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) program, an increase of $6 million over the comparable 2016 level, to expand support for state and local efforts to improve teacher and principal effectiveness and help ensure that all students have equitable access to effective teachers and principals. The program would make grants primarily to institutions of higher education and national nonprofit organizations for projects that provide evidence-based professional development activities and prepare teachers and principals from nontraditional preparation and certification routes to serve in high-need local educational agencies.

Expanding Access, Affordability, and Completion in Higher Education:

  • $100 million for the First in the World program for competitive awards to support the development, validation, and scale-up of innovative, promising, and evidence-based strategies to improve postsecondary completion rates for high-needs students, as well as rigorous evaluations to test the effectiveness of these strategies when implemented in varied settings and contexts. The Obama Administration plans to set aside up to $30 million to support the implementation of projects at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs).
  • $30 million for the HBCU and MSI Innovation for Completion Fund, a new competitive grant program to foster innovative, evidence-based, student-centered strategies and interventions to increase the number of low-income students and students of color completing degree programs.
  • Of the $900 million included for TRIO in the budget, up to $20 million would be used to support a new TRIO Demonstration initiative designed to give existing grantees the opportunity to compete for increased funding to implement and evaluate additional, evidence‑based, college access and success strategies, and support dissemination of strategies that prove to be effective at scale to all TRIO grantees.

The budget also includes support for InformED, an initiative launched in 2016, that builds on the success of the new College Scorecard by making the Department’s data and research across the education spectrum more available—and actionable—for internal users and the public. The 2017 budget includes $15 million to support InformED to build new infrastructure to manage the collection, quality, release, and analysis of data in innovative and effective ways.

For more information about the 2017 budget, visit our webpage.

Tiffany Taber is Chief of Staff for Communications Development in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

The FY 2017 Budget Request for Education Aims to Increase College Access, Affordability, and Completion

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President Obama has made it clear that in the capstone year of his presidency, he’ll continue making education a top priority – including initiatives and investments that place a college degree within reach for millions more Americans.

As he noted in his final State of the Union address in January, as a nation, we’ve made important progress to ensure that more students graduate from high school with the skills they need to thrive in college, in their careers, and in their communities. But challenges remain, and we must be committed to bold solutions.

College still is the best investment that Americans can make in their future. And a great education is just as important for engaging in society and safeguarding our democracy. That’s why students from every background – including low-income, minority, and first-generation students, as well as adults with jobs and families – are seeking access to postsecondary education and training.

This Administration has made historic investments in financial aid for postsecondary students. And in 2014 – the most recent year for which we have data—our country saw the largest and most diverse class of students enrolling in higher education in our history. The numbers of African-American and Latino college students are up by more than a million since 2008.

But the odds are still too steep for too many. Many students hesitate to pursue higher education, concerned by rising costs and a college marketplace that can be confusing, especially for many first-generation students. Furthermore, only about 60 percent of those who do enroll in a bachelor’s degree program complete their education within six years. And at least a third of those who do graduate take longer than expected, potentially adding even greater costs for students and families.

Borrowers who drop out of college face a three times greater risk of defaulting on their student loans compared with those who graduate. As a result, the 2017 budget proposes key reforms and provides institutional and student supports and incentives for on-time and accelerated degree attainment, which are aimed at making college more affordable, student aid more accessible, and student loan repayment easier, as well as fostering innovation and protecting students and taxpayers. The proposals in the budget will:

Dramatically Reduce Costs for Students and Families

  • The budget renews the call for the America’s College Promise (ACP) initiative, a partnership with states designed to make two years of community college free for responsible students. Through an investment of $61 billion over the next decade, students would be able to earn the first half of a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree and earn the skills needed to succeed in the workforce – at no cost. ACP also would provide grants to schools that support new low-income students, including those transferring from a community college. Students would be able to receive up to two years of college at these institutions at zero or significantly reduced tuition.
  • The budget invests in current and future generations of U.S. students by providing maximum funding for Pell Grant awards, adjusted for inflation beyond 2017. This will ensure that the dollars are protected from eroding in value in the years ahead.
  • In addition to making the FAFSA available earlier, as announced by President Obama in September 2015, the budget also would simplify the FAFSA by eliminating burdensome and unnecessarily complex questions to make it easier for students and families to access federal student aid and afford a postsecondary education.
  • The budget also would create a competitive, $30 million Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) Innovation for Completion Fund to encourage innovative, evidence-based student success strategies to increase the number of low-income students and students of color completing their degrees.
  • And the President’s budget request focuses on streamlining income-driven repayment plans that cap loan payments at a reasonable price for borrowers, and helping borrowers to manage their debt more effectively, including strengthening and streamlining teacher loan forgiveness programs.

Encourage and Reward Better Student Outcomes

  • To support and incent students to complete their coursework on time or ahead of time, the budget includes a Pell for Accelerated Completion program, making year-round Pell Grant funds available to students who take a full course load and have used up their existing award.
  • The budget would provide an additional $300 On-Track Pell Bonus for students who stay on course to complete college on time by taking at least 15 credit hours per semester.
  • It also will meet the demand for a third round of the First in the World initiative, with $100 million to implement and evaluate innovative and evidence-based strategies that boost student success, including a $30 million set-aside for HBCUs and MSIs. In 2014 and 2015, the Department saw significant levels of interest in this program, and was able to fund less than 6 percent of all applications received.
  • The College Opportunity and Graduation Bonus program would reward colleges with strong records of enrolling and graduating significant numbers of low-income students on time, and encourage more colleges to improve their outcomes.
  • And, with plans to reform campus-based student aid programs, the budget focuses on funding schools that provide a quality education at a reasonable price, particularly for low-income students.

Expand Postsecondary Options for Students

  • The President’s Second Chance Pell proposal will provide prisoners who have served their time and are about to re-enter society with support that can help them turn their lives around, offering them access to Pell funds to help pay for the college and training opportunities that lead to new skills and new opportunities.
  • And, to complement ACP, the budget will support a $75 million American Technical Training Fund, supporting the creation and expansion of tuition-free, short-term or accelerated job training programs to help more workers compete for high-demand fields like healthcare, manufacturing, and information technology. The Departments of Education and Labor will partner in launching this innovative effort.

In the 21st century, skills and education go a long way toward determining our success as individuals and as a nation. The FY 2017 budget is designed to increase equity and excellence in higher education, with ambitious proposals to reduce college costs, spark new approaches and scale up proven practices to serve students better, and create wider avenues for Americans – regardless of background or circumstance – to change their life chances and achieve their dreams.

Learn more about the full budget request for education.

Melissa Apostolides is a member of the Communications Development Team in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

Equity and Excellence in the President’s Budget for Education

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Anyone in America can succeed, but success doesn’t arrive overnight. More often, it’s the result of countless hours spent studying, of supportive families and communities, of educators preparing inspiring lessons and staying late with students who are struggling. It was education that drew my parents here as students from India, seeking graduate degrees in science and engineering. And education was the greatest gift they would give my brother and me, always believing that if we worked hard, we could achieve even greater things.

I see my parents’ reflection in many of the parents I meet at the elementary school where my own two children now go. These are parents who may or may not have finished high school or college themselves, but who are going to make sure their own children complete their homework—and make it to college. These are the parents who take time out from their jobs working nights to sit in on PTA meetings, often listening intently through headphones to the Spanish-language translation. Education is the key to success, and these parents know it.

The problem is that too often, parents of children most at risk of falling behind face the highest obstacles to obtaining a quality education for their kids. For example, today, only 41 percent of children in low-income communities are enrolled in preschool, compared with 61 percent of children in wealthier communities. In high school, only 57 percent of black students and two-thirds of Hispanic students have access to the full range of courses necessary to succeed in college and careers, compared to 71 percent of white students. And American Indian and Native-Alaskan students are also disproportionately suspended and expelled, representing less than 1 percent of the student population but 2 percent of out-of-school suspensions and 3 percent of expulsions.

We can and we must do better, for all of our kids.

The President’s 2017 budget request recognizes the importance of this goal through significant new investments in three key areas: high-quality early learning; stronger and more diverse schools; and increased access to evidence and data to help all of us improve outcomes for students.

Boosting access to high-quality early learning:

The President’s budget request aims to ensure access to high-quality preschool programs for 4-year-olds with $1.3 billion in mandatory funding in 2017 and $75 billion over 10 years for the President’s landmark Preschool for All proposal. The budget also supports special education services and early intervention programs for our youngest learners.

The budget also supports local innovation to create stronger, more diverse schools, through:

  • $450 million in additional funding for Title I Grants, for a total of $15.4 billion to help local educational agencies ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared for college and careers, in part through locally developed efforts to turn around our lowest-performing schools.
  • $120 million in grants to launch Stronger Together, a voluntary program to support the development and expansion of new and existing, community-driven strategies to increase socioeconomic diversity in America’s schools.
  • Additional funding to support school choice through high-quality public charter and magnet schools. The budget includes an additional $17 million for Charter School Grants and an additional $18 million for magnet schools.
  • $4 billion over three years to launch Computer Science for All, supporting state efforts to expand access for all students to computer science instruction and programs of study. The budget also includes the $100 million discretionary Computer Science for All Development Grants program for school districts.
  • An increase of $55 million to support new Promise Neighborhoods in up to 15 distressed communities seeking to break the cycle of poverty through the development and implementation of comprehensive cradle-to-college supports for children and families.

Expanding access to evidence and data

Through InformED, the Department will provide the public with expanded, user-friendly access to data to drive decision-making and better outcomes for students.

In his final State of the Union address, President Obama challenged us to “face the future with confidence in who we are, what we stand for, and the incredible things we can do together.”

Central to this challenge is putting the American Dream within reach of every child and young person. The President’s 2017 budget request for education will help provide states, districts, and communities with the necessary resources to uphold excellence and equity in education, and to give all students opportunities and hope for the future, much like those that my parents gave me.

Aparna Kumar is a member of the Communications Development Team in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

The President’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request: Supporting Teachers and School Leaders for Student Success

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“So much of the change ahead rests on the leadership of educators in classrooms and schools. Indeed, it is what happens in classrooms that make the difference for our students in education—particularly those who have the odds most stacked against them.” – Acting Secretary John B. King, January 21, 2016

It’s a time of great opportunity to be an educator in America. Teachers are leading through a period of immense change – with a transition to higher standards and better assessments, increased use of technology to support and enhance student learning, and a renewed understanding of the importance of a well-rounded education to every student’s success. Additionally, with the passage of the new Every Student Succeeds Act, which reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, we have an opportunity to continue the law’s civil rights legacy by ensuring equity and positive outcomes for all students are emphasized in important ways. The law also upholds protections for high-needs students, requires that all students be taught to high academic standards, and supports and grows local innovations. Indeed, teachers have the opportunity to shape the implementation of a new law in America.

What’s more, research proves – and every parent understands – that the most important school-based factor impacting a child’s academic success is the quality of the classroom teacher. As a result, working in our highest-needs schools should be a reward for excellence for teachers, and a path to continued career success.

That’s why the 2017 budget includes several investments to recruit, develop, support, and retain the outstanding teachers and leaders that our students – and especially our most disadvantaged students – need to be successful.

Transforming Teaching

The 2017 budget invests in educators with $1 billion to ensure that teaching in high-needs schools is a step into a great job and a step up in an educator’s career. The new RESPECT: Best Job in the World program would provide compensation and support for effective teachers in high-need schools. This funding would support the implementation of teacher-led development opportunities that improve instruction and would help high-needs schools and districts foster positive school climates that encourage success for students and teachers alike. Finally, through leveraging teacher leadership to improve working conditions in high-needs schools, this program would help make the schools with the greatest needs the best places to work and learn. This proposal will allow districts to transform working with the most vulnerable students into the most attractive job for effective educators.

Teachers see the challenges that their students and schools face, but they also develop solutions that fit the unique needs of their communities. Teachers are best positioned to develop innovative solutions and to lead reforms. Across the country, we need teachers to use their insights and expertise to help us solve the most pressing challenges in education, or we will not live up to our promise as a country.

The Obama Administration strongly supports efforts to encourage more authentic opportunities for teachers to lead from the classroom. That’s why the 2017 budget includes $10 million for Teach to Lead grants, which will provide direct support to teachers who develop innovative reforms with the potential for wider impact on improving student outcomes. This effort builds on the promising work begun through the Department’s Teach to Lead convenings, held throughout 2015, during which time teachers identified problems of practice impacting their schools and communities and developed outcomes-based action plans they are now implementing to solve these problems.

Preparing Teachers for the Classroom

To help teachers achieve success in the classroom, we must strengthen teacher preparation. High-quality programs must not only equip teachers with the skills they need to be ready to succeed in a real-world classroom, but they also must train teachers to be culturally competent and connect with the students and families they serve.

With the proposed Teacher and Principal Pathways program, teachers will get that opportunity to learn and prepare for the classroom. The Pathways program supports colleges, universities, and nonprofit organizations – in partnership with schools – to create or expand pathways into the teaching profession. This program focuses on high-need schools and subjects, especially science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Students who make the life-changing decision to become a teacher – and enroll in a high-quality teacher preparation program – shouldn’t be bankrupted by their choice. The 2017 budget includes a new initiative that will provide up to $25,000 in student loan forgiveness for teachers graduating from an effective preparation program who serve in low-income schools, starting in 2021. This program streamlines current postsecondary assistance options – like TEACH grants and the teacher loan forgiveness program – into a single program, where the benefit increases over time, as teachers stay in high-needs schools.

Advancing Educators’ Careers

The 2017 budget also recognizes that teachers should have the opportunity to advance their careers – whether through higher pay in recognition for outstanding performance, professional development, or other leadership opportunities.

The reauthorized Teacher and School Leader Incentive Grants program will support efforts to develop, implement, or expand human capital management systems or performance-based compensation systems in schools. This $250 million program focuses on ways to attract, develop, and retain talented, committed, and accomplished teachers in high-need areas.

Once in the classroom, teachers share that they can sometimes feel underwhelmed by one-shot workshops that don’t provide effective opportunities to improve skills, collaborate with colleagues, or hone their craft. That’s why the 2017 budget includes $100 million for Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED), so that nonprofits can provide evidence-based professional development activities, as well as prepare teachers and principals to serve in traditionally underserved school districts.

Budget Instrumental to Future Success

We know that teachers are fundamentally important to the success of our schools, classrooms, and students. We also know that we can – and must – get better at recruiting, attracting, retaining, supporting, and rewarding America’s best and brightest educators. The 2017 budget acts on that belief, putting key programs and new initiatives in place that support and elevate the teaching profession.

If our teachers and leaders are supported, there’s no limit to what our students can do.

Meredith Linnehan is a member of the Communications Development Team in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

Standing on the Shoulders of Many

The 2008 Metro Detroit General Election Obama Staff.

The 2008 Metro Detroit General Election Obama Staff.

With regards to August Wilson, Lorraine Hansberry, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Denzel Washington referenced their short but impactful time on this earth as “concentrated dose[s] of life” going on to say that “these people didn’t have water added to their lives…they were here and they were intense for a short period of time…but they live on…for generations, for centuries hopefully…”

This is what working for the Obama administration has felt like to me and so many Black appointees: an intense and purposeful eight years of work done for the betterment of our future generations.

I am a first generation college graduate who was a Head Start student and a Pell grant recipient. When I completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for the first time and saw my “expected family contribution (EFC)” would be $0, my resolve to receive a college education was solidified. From the time of my birth until my first job after graduating from Howard University, I lived in a household at or near the poverty line, which qualified me for financial aid and allowed me to have a better chance to achieve the American Dream. Had it not been for the opportunity a college education afforded me, there is a real possibility that my own children would have been born into that same generational cycle of having the talent and will, but not the financial way.

Of the many incredible memories I have of serving this President, my favorite involves my nephew, Drake. Drake was four years old and spending part of the summer with my husband and me in 2013. While watching Independence Day, I noticed a confused look on his face. I asked him what was wrong. “Tee-Tee that is not the President.” “And how do you know?” “The President is Marack O’Momma”.

The author's nephew, Drake, at the White House Easter Egg Roll.

The author’s nephew, Drake, at the White House Easter Egg Roll.

Now eight, Drake can accurately pronounce the President’s name, but I will forever treasure that memory. The realization that there is a whole generation of young boys and girls whose only reality has been one where Barack Obama is the “real” President of the United States, has affected me deeply.What a mighty concentrated dose of life witnessed by young Drake and children all over the world.

There have been many historical celebrations during President Obama’s administration. In 2014, we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act and the 60th Anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Ruling. And in 2015, while celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights act-we also witnessed the passing of our beloved national treasure Julian Bond.

From Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” blossomed Barack Obama who planted seeds for Acting Secretary John King, Tia Borders, Saba Bireda, De’Rell Bonner, Tenicka Boyd, Casimir Peters, Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Raymonde Charles, Denise Horn, Alise Marshall, Chris Robinson, Aketa Williams, James Cole, Kimberly Morton, Angela Tennison, Michael Brown, Ursula Wright, Monae White, Jim Shelton, Christina Cue, Tyra Mariani, Stephanie Sprow, Michael Smith, myself and countless other Black Appointees to grow. We dared to join the North Star journey of electing and serving the first Black President. We all started in different parts of this country. Some of us began this journey during the South Carolina primary in 2007, while others of us joined the “Obama” train further up the Ohio River in Kentucky.

As a field organizer working in my home city of Detroit in 2008, I welcomed neighbors from Canada that were eager to volunteer for the campaign even though they could not vote in our election to ensure Barack’s ascendency to the highest job in all the land. And when Barack Obama was elected President, we all made it to the White House. Not just those of us who had volunteered and mobilized to make history …but also those who came before us. The humanity of an invitation to work for the first Black president granted honor to our great grandmothers and grandfathers, and the spirits of our ancestors, whose shoulders we had to climb upon in order to make it to this extraordinary moment in time. And our humble service in the birth of this nation granted dignity to those who once served, unwillingly, building this country on their backs with their blood, sweat, tears and lives.

It has been an incalculable privilege to be of service to this President and our incredible First Family. I am forever grateful for this intense opportunity; this concentrated dose of time in my own life that I will one day share with my own children and their children as well.

Russella Davis-Rogers is Chief of Staff of the Office of Strategic Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education.

The Easy Way to Transfer Your Tax Information into Your FAFSA

IRS Data Retrieval Tool infographic

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I’ll admit it. February is not my favorite month because it reminds me of tax returns, bad weather and well, finding my tax information. Ugh. If you are like me, a world-class procrastinator that agonizes every year at the thought of filing a tax return and submitting a FAFSA®, then you are not alone. You also know that it can be time consuming. So, here is why you should use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) to instantly transfer your tax information directly into your FAFSA:

1. What is the IRS DRT and how do I use it?

You can find the IRS DRT in the “Financial Information” section of the FAFSA. To use the tool, be sure to indicate that you already completed your tax return.  Answer the remaining questions and log in using your FSA ID:

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If your tax return information is available and if you are eligible to use it, you will be transferred to the tool.  Make sure to provide your information exactly as you provided it on your tax return:

IRS DRT Screenshot with 2015 tax info

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You will be able to preview your tax information before agreeing to have it directly transferred to your FAFSA.

IRS DRT Screenshot with 2015 tax info

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When you return to the FAFSA, you’ll see the relevant questions populated with your information automatically. It’s that easy!

2. Why use this tool?

  • It’s so easy that it only takes a couple of clicks to transfer all your tax information.
  • It can be used by both students and parents.
  • Most importantly, it is accurate so you don’t have to worry about entering the wrong tax information on your FAFSA.

3. When can I use the tool?

The IRS DRT is available the first Sunday in February. However, when your information will be available will depend on when you submitted your tax return. If you e-file your taxes, your information will be available to transfer 2-3 weeks after you file.

4. If I already completed the FAFSA using estimates, can I use the IRS DRT to update my FAFSA once I filed my taxes?

Yes, if you estimated, you will have to update your FAFSA once you have filed your taxes anyway. So why not use the IRS DRT? It’s the easiest way to update your FAFSA. To update your estimates, click “Make FAFSA Corrections” after logging in to fafsa.gov. Navigate to the “Financial Information” section and indicate that you have already completed your taxes. If your tax return information is available and if you are eligible to do so, you should follow the same prompts listed above to transfer your tax return information to your application.

5. Why can’t I use the IRS DRT?

If you’re not seeing the IRS DRT, there may be a few reasons why:

  • It is not available for use yet.
  • You indicated that you will file or are not going to file a federal income tax return.
  • Your marital status changed after Dec. 31 of the previous calendar year.
  • The student/parent filed a Form 1040X amended tax return.
  • The student/parent filed a Puerto Rican or foreign tax return.

If you are not able to use the IRS DRT, don’t worry. Although you’ll be required to enter your tax information manually, we have great resources on StudentAid.gov that walk you through the process.

Now that you know the secret to transferring your tax information to the FAFSA, I hope you will enjoy the time you saved!


Zelma Barrett is a Management and Program Analyst at Federal Student Aid.

5 Things To Do After Filing Your FAFSA

After the FAFSA

Congratulations! You submitted your 2016–17 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®)! Wondering what happens next? Here are a few things to look out for:

1. Review Your Student Aid Report (SAR)

After you submit your FAFSA, you’ll get a Student Aid Report (SAR). Your SAR is a summary of the FAFSA data you submitted. Once you have submitted your FAFSA, you’ll get your SAR within three days (if you signed your FAFSA online) or three weeks (if you mailed a signature page.)

View your SAR

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Any student with an FSA ID can view and print his or her SAR by logging in to fafsa.gov and clicking on the appropriate school year. This is also where you can check the status of your application if you have not received your SAR yet. Once you get your SAR, you should review it carefully to make sure it’s correct and complete.

2. Review Your EFC

When reviewing your SAR, look for the Expected Family Contribution (EFC)  number. Your EFC can be found in the box at the top of the first page of your SAR, under your Social Security number.

Your EFC is a measure of your family’s financial strength and is calculated according to a formula established by law. This formula considers the following about you (and your parents, if you’re dependent):

  • Taxed and untaxed income
  • Assets
  • Benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security)
  • Family size
  • Number of family members who will attend college during the year

Schools use your EFC to determine your federal student aid eligibility and your financial aid award. However, it’s important to remember that your EFC is not the amount of money your family will have to pay for college nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive. It is a number used by your school to calculate how much financial aid you are eligible to receive. Contact your school’s financial aid office if you have any questions about how they calculate financial aid.

3. Make Corrections If You Need To

It’s important to make sure that everything on your FAFSA is correct and complete, as your school may ask you to verify some of the information. Most of the questions on the FAFSA want to know your situation as of the day you sign the FAFSA. However, there are some instances in which you’ll want to (or be required to) change the information you reported.

Make FAFSA Corrections

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TIP: You must wait for your most recent FAFSA submission to process before you can update or make corrections to your FAFSA. That usually take about three days.

Do you need to update any information?

  • Log in with your FSA ID.
  • Click “Make FAFSA Corrections.”
  • Corrections should be processed in 3–5 days and you should receive a revised SAR.
  • After you click “SUBMIT” you cannot make another correction until your FAFSA has been processed successfully.

Did you submit your FAFSA using income and tax estimates?

  • Log in with your FSA ID.
  • Navigate to the “Financial Information” section.
  • Indicate that you have “Already completed” your taxes.
  • If you are eligible, you will have the option to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool. If not, you may update your tax information manually.
Taxes already completed

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Has your situation changed?

Most FAFSA information cannot be updated because it must be accurate as of the day you originally signed your FAFSA. However, there are certain items that you must update. If there will be a significant change in your or your parent’s income for the present year or if your family has other circumstances that cannot be reported on the FAFSA, you should speak to the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend.

4. Review Your Financial Aid History

The last page of your SAR includes information about your financial aid history, specifically the student loans you have taken out. It’s important to keep track of how much you’re borrowing and to understand the terms and conditions of the loan.

TIP: You can always access your financial aid history by logging into My Federal Student Aid. Make sure you have your FSA ID ready.

5. Double-Check With Your Schools

Lastly, make sure that you double-check with the financial aid offices at the schools you applied to. Sometimes schools need additional paperwork or have other deadlines. You never want to leave money on the table!

Here’s a video on what happens after the FAFSA. You can find more videos on our YouTube channel.


Sandra Vuong is a Digital Engagement Strategist at Federal Student Aid.

Balancing Assessments: A Teacher’s Perspective

As a Teaching Ambassador Fellow, my colleagues and I have the honor of speaking with thousands of educators, parents, and students across the country about their greatest hopes for education and what’s working well for them or not. Just as I have struggled with the amount of testing in my own classroom, we invariably hear about the amount of instructional time and energy devoted to testing.

Don’t get me wrong. As a teacher, I know that assessing learning is a critical part of our on-going work. However, as the President outlined in October, assessments must be worth taking and of high quality; designed to enhance teaching and learning; and give a well-rounded picture of how students and schools are doing.

In a rush to improve and document one measure of student progress, well-meaning people have layered on more and more tests and put too much instructional focus on test scores rather than teaching and learning. The burden of this falls on our students.

The day I knew that I wanted to help bring our testing situation into better balance was when a ten year old student stood in front of me sobbing that despite lots of hard work, she was sure she had failed a high stakes assessment. She could not catch her breath to express her fear at what would happen to her. As I dried her tears, I knew that I did not want to stand by and be a part of a system that made any child feel that all that mattered was a number on what I knew was a low-quality test.

This past Tuesday, Acting Secretary John King released a video announcing new guidance to help states identify and eliminate low-quality, redundant or unhelpful testing. This guidance shares how federal money may be used to help reduce testing and bring testing back into balance for teachers and students.

The guidance outlines numerous ways funds can be used by States and districts to collaborate with teachers, administrators, family members and students to audit assessments; improve the use of the data; increase the transparency and timeliness of results; and to improve the quality of the tests our students take. As I work with the Department’s Teach to Lead initiative, I’ll note that this seems like a particularly ripe opportunity to call on our schools’ many talented teacher leaders to help improve tests.

We are at a tremendous moment in education to be able to step back in our states to put the balance back in assessment with the help of Federal resources. All of our voices need to be part of the discussion. Our students are counting on us.

JoLisa Hoover is a 4th grade teacher at River Ridge Elementary School in Leander Independent School District near Austin, Texas and a 2015 Teaching Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education.

Girls and Coding: Seeing What the Future Can Be

From left to right, Gilliam Jacobs, Brittany Greve, Andrea Chaves, Noran Omar, Angela Diep.

At the White House for the White House Champions of Change for Computer Science Education! From left to right, Gilliam Jacobs, Brittany Greve, Andrea Chaves, Noran Omar and Angela Diep.

“You can’t be what you can’t see.”

This is a common expression that, perhaps like me, you’ve heard many times. For the girls at the Young Women’s Leadership school where I teach in New York City, this is – sadly — the case. My students couldn’t see themselves as women in STEM careers, and in fact, knew little about the opportunities offered within the field.

That’s why I made it my mission to bring computer science to our school.

My principal was excited at the idea of incorporating computer science (CS), but took me by surprise when she said I would have to teach it. As a certified Spanish teacher, I had no background in CS other than being digitally competent. But, after starting to learn through an online training program, I decided to blend computer science into my advanced Spanish speakers class because I figured why not have students learning Spanish dive into coding, too.

On the first day of class, I announced to the girls in Spanish that we were going to do tons of reading, writing and editing – but in a language called JavaScript. I made it clear that I wasn’t fluent in this language, but reassured them that we were on this journey together.

It didn’t take me long to realize that the gender gap is not due to women lacking STEM-related skills, but rather because young women are conditioned to believe that careers in technology and science are reserved for men. That’s part of why I also decided to start two after-school programs: a partnership with an existing organization, Girls Who Code, which works to inspire and educate women to pursue careers in technology and my own program, TechCrew – an internship program that exposes girls to coding, graphic design, animation and film.

Watch the girls in Chaves’ class who created the nutrition game, Healthy Bunch, which won the MIT-sponsored competition “Dream It. Code It. Win It.”

Each club started with eight girls, but TechCrew now includes 30 girls working collaboratively to create and produce technology-driven projects. Students have coded video games and apps about recycling, healthy eating habits, carbon footprints, space debris, learning Spanish and more. As one of my students, Brittany Greve, says, “Computer science has allowed me to look at a problem from multiple perspectives and use logic to come up with innovative solutions.”

My students have also become leaders within the CS community. We’ve worked together on all sorts of projects, such as a summer coding camp in Queens where girls learned to build apps that advocate for social justice. Additionally, my TechCrew is currently leading 50 girls in the creation of a Digital Dance, in which dancers, filmmakers, graphic designers and coders are bringing together their expertise to create a beautiful piece of art.

Watch Chaves’ students talking about why they love to code and how coding has influenced them (in English).

Watch Chaves’ students talking about why they love to code and how coding has influenced them (in Spanish).

I am a Spanish teacher by training, but I took a risk to integrate CS into my curriculum and learned that this language does not have to stand on its own. It can be infused into any subject in any classroom. All it takes is a little innovation, trust and risk-taking.

One of my students put it best, “CS has opened a new pathway in my life. It has made me discover a part of who I am that I didn’t know existed. I can now see what I would like my future to be,” she said.

Andrea Chaves is a Spanish and computer science teacher and creative director at the Young Women’s Leadership School in Astoria, New York. She was recently named a White House Champion of Change.

3 Types of FAFSA Deadlines You Should Pay Attention To

Sample FAFSA Deadlines

Click to enlarge

Ah, deadlines. The sworn enemy of students across the nation. When you’re busy with classes, extracurricular activities, and a social life in whatever time you’ve got left, it’s easy to lose track and let due dates start whooshing by. All of a sudden, your U.S. history paper is due at midnight, and you still don’t know Madison from a minuteman. We get it.

Nevertheless, we’re here to point out a few critical deadlines that you really shouldn’t miss: those to do with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). By submitting your FAFSA late, you might be forfeiting big money that can help you pay for college. Luckily for you, you’ve got just three types of deadlines to stay on top of. Now if only your Founding Father flashcards were that simple.

Here are those three deadlines:

  1. The College Deadline

The first type of deadline comes from colleges themselves, and—spoiler alert—it’s typically pretty early. These deadlines vary from school to school, but they usually come well before the academic year starts, many in the neighborhood of early spring. If you’re applying to multiple colleges, be sure to look up each school’s FAFSA deadline and apply by the earliest one.

Many of these FAFSA due dates are priority deadlines. This means that you need to get your FAFSA in by that date to be considered for the most money. Many colleges have this date clearly marked on their financial aid pages. If you can’t find it, a call to the college’s financial aid office never goes amiss.

  1. The State Deadline

The second deadline is determined by your home state. This deadline varies by state and can be as early as February 15 of a given year’s FAFSA application cycle (What’s good, Connecticut?). Some states have suggested deadlines to make sure you get priority consideration for college money, and some just want you to get the FAFSA in as soon as you can. States often award aid until they run out of money—first come, first served—so apply early.

You can check the deadline tool at fafsa.gov to see what the deal is in your state. You can also find that state-specific information on the paper or PDF FAFSA. In many cases, it turns out that state and school deadlines occur before you’ve even filed your taxes. If that’s the case, learn how to submit your FAFSA if you haven’t filed taxes yet.

  1. The Federal Deadline

This last deadline comes from us, the Department of Education, aka the FAFSA folks. This one is pretty low-pressure. Our only time constraint is that each year’s FAFSA becomes unavailable on June 30 at the end of the academic year it applies to.

That means that the 2016–17 FAFSA (which became available Jan. 1, 2016) will disappear from fafsa.gov on June 30, 2017, because that’s the end of the 2016–17 school year. That’s right; you can technically go through your entire year at college before accessing the FAFSA. However, a few federal student aid programs have limited funds, so be sure to apply as soon as you can. Also, as we said, earlier deadlines from states and colleges make waiting a bad idea.


Why so many deadlines?

All these entities award their financial aid money differently and at different times. What they all have in common, though, is that they use the FAFSA to assess eligibility for their aid programs. So when a college wants to get its aid squared away before the academic year starts, it needs your FAFSA to make that happen. If you want in on that college money, you need to help the college out by getting your information in by its deadline. Same goes for state aid programs. Additionally, many outside scholarship programs need to see your FAFSA before they consider your eligibility for their money. If you’re applying for scholarships, you need to stay on top of those deadlines, too.

What happens if I miss the deadlines?

Don’t miss the deadlines. Plan to get your FAFSA in by the earliest of all the deadlines for your best crack at college money. By missing deadlines, you take yourself out of the running for money you might otherwise get. Some states and colleges continue awarding aid to FAFSA latecomers, but your chances get much slimmer, and the payout is often less if you do get aid. It’s better just not to miss the deadlines.

If you miss the end-of-June federal deadline, you’re no longer eligible to submit that year’s FAFSA. Did we mention not to miss the deadlines?

Across the board, the motto really is “the sooner the better.” So put off the procrastinating until tomorrow. Apply by the earliest deadline. Get your FAFSA done today!

Drew Goins is a senior journalism major at the University of North Carolina. He’s also an intern with the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid office. Likes: politics, language, good puns. Dislikes: mainly kale.

ED Seeks Summer Interns

interns

Have you ever wondered about pursuing a federal career? Are you interested in public service? Would you like to gain valuable work experience and help move the needle on education issues in this country?

The Department of Education may have opportunities that match your interests – and we’re currently accepting applications for interns!

Our Department is a place where you can explore fields like education policy, education law, business and finance, research and analysis, intergovernmental relations and public affairs, or traditional and digital communications, all while learning about the role federal government plays in education.

Our interns also participate in professional development sessions and events outside of the office, such as lunches with ED and other government officials, movie nights, and tours of the Capitol, Supreme Court and other local sights.

One of the many advantages of interning at ED is our proximity to some of the most historic and celebrated sites in our nation’s capital, all accessible by walking or taking the Metro.

ED is accepting applications for Summer 2016 internships through March 15, 2016.

If you are interested in interning during the upcoming term, there are three things you must send in order to be considered for an interview:

  1. A cover letter summarizing why you wish to work at ED and stating your previous experiences in the field of education, if any. Include which particular offices interest you. (But, keep in mind that – due to the volume of applications we receive – if we accept you as an intern we may not be able to place you in your first-choice office.)
  2. An updated resumé.
  3. A completed copy of the Intern Application.

Prospective interns should send these three documents in one email to StudentInterns@ed.gov with the subject line formatted as follows: Last Name, First Name: Summer Intern Application.

(Note: For candidates also interested in applying specifically to the Office of General Counsel, please see application requirements here.)

An internship at ED is one of the best ways students can learn about education policy and working in the civil service. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to develop crucial workplace skills that will help you in whatever career path you choose. And, it’s an opportunity to meet fellow students who share your passion for education, learning, and engagement.

Click here for more information or to get started on your application today.

De’Rell Bonner is a special assistant and youth liaison in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

School Counselors, Meet the Financial Aid Toolkit

Happy National School Counseling Week! Many thanks to all you school counselors out there for your hard work and dedication.

Financial Aid Toolkit Screenshot

Click to visit the Financial Aid Toolkit

Many times through the years, I’ve heard how busy the typical school counselor is, with a heavy case load and no time to learn everything there is to know about financial aid. Instead, counselors have sent out a plea for a selection of short, specific items that answer the questions a student will have at various points in the financial aid lifecycle. You asked for it; we built it. It’s called the Financial Aid Toolkit.

 

What’s the Financial Aid Toolkit?

FinancialAidToolkit.ed.gov is a site that was designed specifically for you, the school counselor, to give you information and resources that will help you educate students and parents about federal student aid for college.

What does the Financial Aid Toolkit offer?

It offers a lot, so be sure to explore the site. Meanwhile, here are some highlights:

Why shouldn’t a counselor recommend the Financial Aid Toolkit to students and parents?

The Financial Aid Toolkit speaks to YOU, the counselor. It does not have the type of information or level of detail that a student or parent needs. Please send students and parents to StudentAid.gov for federal student aid information. (For fact sheets, videos, and other student-focused items, send students and parents to StudentAid.gov/resources.)

What else should a counselor know about the Financial Aid Toolkit?

Because the site is designed for you, your feedback is crucial to its success. At the bottom of each page, there’s a “Leave Us Feedback” link that’ll send you to the site survey so you can let us know what you like or what you’d like to see added to the site.

Remember, the Financial Aid Toolkit site is for you. Use it in good health!

 


Cindy Forbes Cameron has worked at the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid for a million years—or perhaps 17. (Hard to tell the difference sometimes.) Cindy focuses on website content management and document creation and editing. She loves serving the school counselor/college access mentor community via the Financial Aid Toolkit, listserv postings, and conference exhibiting and speaking.