Duncan to Talk Family Engagement During #PTchat

It’s no secret that parents have the power to transform educational opportunity in our country. Which is why their voice is so vital.

On April 8, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be taking to Twitter to gain additional feedback from parents and educators on community and parent engagement best practices during the weekly #PTchat. The chat will coincide with the National Family Engagement Conference in Cincinnati, which aims to bring together educators and community activists to raise awareness of community involvement in schools.

Duncan will moderate the Twitter chat and share information about recently released family and community engagement resources from the Department of Education.

  • What: #PTchat with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
  • When: 9pm EDT, Tuesday, April 8.

Your voice is important, and even if you can’t make the Twitter chat, please don’t hesitate to leave feedback in the comments below and sign up for our Engaging Families email updates.

#AfAmEdChat to Discuss How the State of the Union Affects African-American Communities

President Obama began the 2014 State of the Union address emphasizing his commitment that all American children have access to a world class education, stating in his first comments, “today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it, and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest level in more than three decades.”

SOTU GraphicOn Thursday, February 6, 2014, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans will be hosting a special #AfAmEdChat on Twitter to discuss what the President’s address means for African-American communities.  The chat will explore the importance of the President’s emphasis on education including high-quality early childhood education, rigorous preparation for college and careers, supporting parents and communities, and recruiting the next generation of great teachers.

    • What:  #AfAmEdChat on what the State of the Union Address means for African-American Communities
    • When: 12-1 pm EST Thursday, February 6, 2014
    • Where:  Follow the Twitter conversation with #AfAmEdChat hashtag and follow @AfAmEducation

On the first and third Thursday of each month, the Initiative hosts a one-hour #AfAmEdChat to increase awareness of the educational challenges faced by African American students, whether they are in urban, suburban, or rural learning environments. The chats are facilitated by Executive Director, David J. Johns with guest panelists offering expertise on a range of issues and strategies supporting the President’s commitment to Opportunity for All.

Learn more about the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans by signing up for email updates.

Khalilah Harris is a fellow with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans. She is an education program and policy advisor, attorney and a doctoral student at University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.

Duncan Seeks Feedback During #StuVoice Twitter Chat

The voice of students has never been more critical to education than it is today. We know that our young people’s capacity to influence society cannot be underestimated, which is why Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and his team are dedicated to listening to students’ ideas and concerns. We know that youth are concerned about the quality of their education, getting in and paying for college, and finding a good-paying job.


Secretary Arne Duncan regularly meets with students during school and classroom visits, but also in discussions at the Department of Education headquarters in Washington.

Last year, President Obama directed the Department of Education to develop a ratings system to identify colleges that provide a good value and to increase college affordability information available to students. Over the past several months we have been getting feedback from across the country, but it’s important that we get this right.

On January 13, 2014, Secretary Duncan will be moderating a special one-hour #stuvoice Twitter chat to get feedback from students on how we can keep college affordable and how the Administration’s college rating system can be useful for students and families.

What: #StuVoice Twitter Chat with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

When: 8:30pm EST Monday January 13, 2014

Where: Follow the Twitter conversation starting at 8:30pm on Jan. 13, with the #stuvoice hashtag and follow @ArneDuncan and @Stu_Voice.

Your voice is important, and even if you can’t make the Twitter chat, please don’t hesitate to leave feedback in the comments below.

Subscribe to the Department of Education’s Youth Voices newsletter, and follow ED Youth Voices on Facebook.

 Cameron Brenchley is director of digital strategy at the U.S. Department of Education

We Want to Hear From You

With a fresh year just weeks away, it’s a perfect time to start thinking about my new year’s resolutions. We give a lot of thought to our digital communication strategy here at the U.S. Department of Education, and we’re committed to providing content that is informative, useful and interesting. On occasion we spend too much time discussing what content serves the public best, while forgetting we can use our tools to ask you directly.

Twitter Town Hall

Secretary Arne Duncan (@arneduncan) is a regular on Twitter, often jumping on between meetings to answer questions using #AskArne. Here he participates in a Twitter town hall with stakeholders and staff.

So before we kick off a new year, we want to hear from you. What information and resources do you want to see on our blog, email newsletters and social media? Is there something you’ve liked about our digital communications that you’re hoping we continue? What do you find annoying or invaluable that you think we should be communicating less?

Let us know in the comments below and feel free to tweet us (just make sure you use our Twitter handle @usedgov).

Thank you for supporting education and for reading our blog, subscribing to our emails and following us on social media. All of us here at the U.S. Department of Education wish you a Happy Holidays and a fantastic New Year.

Cameron Brenchley is director of digital strategy at the U.S. Department of Education

Top 4 Ways (Digitally) to Join Our Back-to-School Bus Tour

Bus PictureSecretary of Education Arne Duncan has repeatedly said that the best ideas come from schools, districts and states – not from Washington. Starting this morning, Duncan hits the road in the Southwest during his fourth back-to-school bus tour to visit schools, hold town halls, and listen to teachers, parents, students and members of the community.
This year’s tour, entitled Strong Start, Bright Future, will highlight the importance of ensuring that all students benefit from high-quality educational opportunities.
The five-day tour will take us to New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, and California (see our interactive map of all the stops), and if you can’t make it to one of the events, here are four ways to stay digitally connected to the tour:
1. Twitter 
Follow hashtag #edtour13 for the latest and keep up to date by following @usedgov and @arneduncan.
2. Email Updates
Sign up here to get the latest from the road in your inbox.
3. Storify
Subscribe to our Storify page and read our collection of stories and photos from the road.
4. Blog
We’ll be blogging throughout the tour. Visit ed.gov/bustour or subscribe to email updates from our Homeroom Blog.
Cameron Brenchley is director of digital strategy and is blogging and tweeting his way from the bus during ED’s annual back-to-school bus tour.

@FAFSA to Host First-Ever Bilingual #AskFAFSA Office Hours

On the last Wednesday of each month, Federal Student Aid (@FAFSA) hosts #AskFAFSA Office Hours, a live Q&A session on Twitter during which students tweet questions to the @FAFSA team and receive live answers from the experts. Each month, #AskFAFSA Office Hours focuses on a different topic related to financial aid. Past topics have included financial literacy, Back-to-School, and FAFSA Completion.

This month, Federal Student Aid has partnered with New Futuro to host our first bilingual #AskFAFSA Office Hours! The topic: Why FAFSA? Why Now?

Starting now, students and parents are invited to tweet their questions to us in English or Spanish using the hashtag #AskFAFSA. On March 27 at 5 p.m., you can follow the conversation live as our experts provide answers to your questions!* Not able to make the live chat? We’ll post a summary of the Q&A on our Storify page following the event.

*Answers will be provided by @FAFSA in English and @NewFuturo in Spanish.

Get Your Financial Aid Questions Answered During #AskFAFSA Office Hours!

Tired of waiting in line at the financial aid office? Get your questions answered during #AskFAFSA Office Hours on Twitter!

OFFICE HOURS PROMOOn Wednesday, November 28th at 5:30pm ET, join @FAFSA as we host #AskFAFSA Office Hours live from the Federal Student Aid Fall Conference, where we will have a room full of financial aid professionals ready to answer your financial aid questions live on Twitter.

Here’s how it works:

  • Have questions about financial aid? You can start submitting your questions on Twitter today. Be sure to include the #AskFAFSA hashtag in your tweets. We will be accepting questions on Twitter from now through Wednesday.
  • On Wednesday, November  28th, at 5:30pm ET, follow @FAFSA or the #AskFAFSA hashtag on Twitter to join the conversation. We’ll be answering your questions live.
  • Can’t make the live session? A summary of #AskFAFSA Office Hours, including the full Q&A, will be posted on Storify following the event.

#AskFAFSA Office Hours with Secretary Arne Duncan

On October 12th at 4pm ET, Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan will join @FAFSA to answer your financial aid questions during the October edition of #AskFAFSA Office Hours. Maybe you have a question about completing the FAFSA or understanding your loan repayment options? Maybe you want to know more about the new resources we just launched? If you have a financial aid question for Secretary Duncan, now’s your chance to ask!

AskArneEvent_PosterHere’s how it works:

  • Have questions for @ArneDuncan You can start submitting your questions on Twitter and Facebook today. Be sure to include the #AskFAFSA  hashtag in your tweets. We will be monitoring for questions on Facebook and Twitter from now through Friday.
  • On Friday, October 12th, at 4pm ET, follow @FAFSA or the #AskFAFSA hashtag on Twitter to join the conversation. Arne will be answering your questions live. Don’t use Twitter? You can also follow along using the Twitter app on our Facebook page.
  • Can’t make the live session? A summary of #AskFAFSA Office Hours, including the full Q&A, will be posted on Storify following the event.

#AskFAFSA Office Hours: Back-To-School Edition

Congratulations! You survived the campus visits, the standardized tests and the overwhelming application process, and now you are preparing for your first day of college. Maybe you’re taking this time to pick out your new bedding or purchase a new laptop, or maybe you’re spending your last days of summer cutting out enough coupons to fund the instant noodle diet you’ll be living on over the next few months. But, how are you preparing yourself financially?

 I am a student entering my senior year of college at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. I have had a job since I was fourteen years old, but that did not make me an expert on personal finance when my parents dropped me off at my freshman dorm three years ago. I received financial aid from the university after filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) earlier that year but I was still unaware of how to manage my expenses and my tuition payments in the most strategic way possible.

 I had lots of questions: Do I need to fill out the FAFSA every year? How do I find a work-study job? Should the money in these paychecks go toward my living expenses or toward my student loans that are accumulating? Is there a GPA requirement to maintain my aid? Should I visit the university’s financial aid counselor?

Now that I am going into my final year, although a little wiser, I still have a number of questions about how to strategically manage my college expenses. When do I start paying back my loans? Can I apply for financial aid to use for graduate school? Should I consider opening a credit card account to start building credit?

If you’re anything like me, you probably have a lot of questions about how to stay financially responsible as you head back to school. Join me and the team here at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid on August 23rd as we answer your questions at our #AskFAFSA Office Hours on Twitter.

Here’s how it works:

    • Have questions about managing your expenses and financial aid throughout college? You can start submitting your questions on Twitter and Facebook today. Be sure to include the #AskFAFSA hashtag in your tweets. We will be monitoring for questions on Facebook and Twitter from now through next Thursday.
    • On Thursday, August 23, at 6pm ET, follow @FAFSA or the #AskFAFSA hashtag on Twitter to join the conversation. We‘ll be answering your questions live. Don’t use Twitter? You can also follow along using the Twitter app on our Facebook page.
    • Can’t make the live session? A summary of #AskFAFSA Office Hours, including the full Q&A, will be posted on Storify and the ED.gov blog following the event.

It is important to know the appropriate steps to take in order to stay financially responsible throughout college. We look forward to receiving your questions and chatting with you next week!

Giovanna Saffos is a Digital Engagement Intern at Federal Student Aid

White House Office Hours with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Cross-posted from the White House Blog.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is joining us for special session of White House Office Hours on Wednesday, June 27th at 2:00 p.m. EDT. During a live Q&A on Twitter, Secretary Duncan will answer your questions about college affordability and the administration’s education policies and priorities.

Will you join us? Here’s how it works:

  • Ask your questions now and during the live event on Twitter with the hashtag #WHChat
  • Follow the Q&A live through the @WHLive Twitter account
  • If you miss the live Q&A, the full session will be posted on WhiteHouse.gov and Storify.com/WhiteHouse

Today, higher education isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity that every American family should be able to afford. But it’s also getting more and more expensive.

For the first time ever, Americans owe more in student loans than in credit card debt. That’s why the President is calling on Congress to keep interest rates low so that every hardworking student gets a fair shot at the skills and training needed to get a good job in today’s economy.

If Congress doesn’t act, interest rates on federal student loans will double on July 1 and more than 7 million students around the country will rack up an average of $1,000 of extra debt each.

Kori Schulman is Deputy Director of Outreach for the White House Office of Digital Strategy

Explore Your Student Loan Repayment Options at #AskFAFSA Office Hours

“While it’s never been more important to have a degree, a certificate or an industry-recognized credential — it’s also never been more expensive.

About two-thirds of college graduates borrow to go to school, and on average they’re graduating with more than $26,000 in debt. In an economy still recovering from the worst downturn since the Great Depression, getting a job is hard enough, but paying back those loans is daunting.”   –   Arne Duncan

You are not alone. There are millions of student loan borrowers just like you who can almost all agree on one thing: repaying student loans is not easy. Especially in these economic times, making your student loan payments on time each month can be difficult, but there are resources available to help you stay on track.

FAFSATo help you learn about these options, this month’s #AskFAFSA Office Hours will highlight real student loan borrowers in a variety of fields who are using various resources (some more out of the box than others) to repay their student loans. Here’s who you’ll be hearing from:

  • Ian (^I): After graduating law school, Ian decided to make public service a career. But with over $160,000 federal student loan debt, Ian would have had to pay over $1,800 per month on the standard loan repayment plan, over $1,000 on the standard consolidation plan and the extended plan, a bit more still. That’s quite a hefty amount for a public servant. Ian began exploring his options. After consolidating six loans into one payment and enrolling in income-based repayment, Ian’s monthly payment now stands at $375. What’s more, he is participating in public service loan forgiveness.
  • Tiffany(^T): In May 2012, Tiffany graduated from the University of South Carolina (USC) with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. While at USC, Tiffany was able to pay in-state tuition because of a reciprocity agreement between South Carolina and her home state of Maryland. However, she still needed to borrow federal student loans to help fund her education. Upon graduation, she took a job with Teach for America, a national teach corps of recent college graduates who commit two years to teach and to effect change in underresourced urban and rural public schools. As a math teacher in New Orleans, Tiffany will have a modest salary, so during her time with Teach for America she plans to receive forbearance, which is a temporary postponement or reduction of payments for a period of time. If she continues to teach, she also plans on taking advantage of some of the loan cancellation options available to teachers.
  • Joe(^J): Did you hear about the Harvard Business School graduate who paid off $90k in student loans in seven months? That’s Joe. After graduating with his MBA and $95k in student loans ($101k including accumulated interest) at the age of 26, Joe decided to do everything in his power– short of lying, cheating, and stealing–to pay down this debt in ten months. His strategy was definitely out of the ordinary, from selling his beloved motorcycle to skipping a trip home for Christmas to only going on cheap dates, Joe managed to pay off his student loan debt 3 months ahead of his already tight schedule. While the route Joe took to repay his student loans is not typical, his experience demonstrates that if you educate yourself about the student loan process and make responsible choices about funding your education, a student loan can be a great investment in your future.

Our guests have learned some valuable lessons throughout the student loan repayment process, but they are not licensed financial advisors and the repayment options they are taking advantage of may not be right for you*.  On Tuesday, June 26,at 6pm ET, join Ian, Tiffany and Joe for #AskFAFSA Office Hours, where they will be taking your questions on borrowing responsibly and repaying student loans.

Here’s how it works:

    • Have questions about the student loan repayment process? You can start submitting your questions on Twitter today. Be sure to include the #AskFAFSA hashtag in your tweets. We’ll continue to take questions throughout the week and during the live event.
    • On Tuesday, June 26, at 6pm ET, follow @FAFSA or the #AskFAFSA hashtag on Twitter to join the conversation. Ian, Tiffany and Joe will be available to answer your questions live.
    • Can’t make the live session? A summary of #AskFAFSA Office Hours, including the full Q&A, will be posted on Storify and the ED.gov blog following the event.

*Our guests will be speaking about their personal experiences and will be signing their tweets with their respective initial. They are not licensed financial advisors and they do not not claim to be experts. Their opinions are their own and do not reflect the opinion of the U.S. Department of Education or its officers or employees and are not an official or personal endorsement of any views expressed or product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying U.S. Department of Education endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service. Any references to institutions, programs, activities, commercial entities, products, and services that remain on Federal Student Aid social media accounts are those of the individual users.


Thank You Teachers

People from across the country are turning to social media to thank teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week, as well as during yesterday’s Teacher Appreciation Day. From heartfelt “thank you’s” on Twitter, to funny memories of great teachers on Facebook, America is coming together to recognize those who have inspired us to reach new heights.

Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.

To see more, visit ED’s Storify page or view the story below.

Read More