A Message from the Secretary of Education to ITT Students

Dear ITT student,

Today, ITT Educational Services, Inc. (ITT) announced that it is closing all of its ITT Technical Institute campuses. For most of the world, that news will be covered as a business story or a political one, but I know that for you it is deeply personal. You are probably wondering what this means for your future; how it is going to affect your finances and your ability to continue your education.

In recent years, ITT has increasingly been the subject of numerous state and federal investigations. In August, ITT’s accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) determined that ITT “is not in compliance, and is unlikely to become in compliance with [ACICS] Accreditation Criteria.” This came amid increasingly heightened financial oversight measures put in place by the Department over the past two years due to significant concerns about ITT’s administrative capacity, organizational integrity, financial viability, and ability to serve students.

The school’s decisions have put its students and millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded federal student aid at risk. Last week, the Department of Education took oversight actions to prevent ITT from continuing to add to that risk. When we made that decision, we did not take it lightly. One possible outcome of oversight actions is that a school may choose to close rather than take corrective actions, which can cause disruption and disappointment for current students. Ultimately, we made a difficult choice to pursue additional oversight in order to protect you, other students, and taxpayers from potentially worse educational and financial damage in the future if ITT was allowed to continue operating without increased oversight and assurances to better serve students.

We are committed to helping you as you consider next steps. Most immediately, you have two basic options to choose between:

  1. If you are currently or were recently enrolled at ITT, you may be eligible to have your federal student loans for your program at ITT discharged. Your federal loan debt will be wiped away and you will have the option of restarting your education somewhere new. We will post and update information about how to receive a discharge at our ITT announcements page.
  2. If you wish to continue and complete your program at a different school – especially if you are close to graduating – you may be able to transfer your credits. It is important to note that transferring your credits may limit your ability to have your federal loans discharged. Closed school discharge may be an option if you enroll in a different program that does not accept your ITT credits.

Both of these options have pros and cons, depending on your unique circumstances, so it is important that you consider your specific situation carefully. You can find some information to start with at our ITT announcements page. The Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid is ready to support you with resources and information, including through this website, and will be updating you with more information in the coming days and weeks.

Whatever you choose to do, do not give up on your education. Higher education remains the clearest path to economic opportunity and security. Restarting or continuing your education at a high-quality, reputable institution may feel like a setback today, but odds are it will pay off in the long run. There are people and tools – like our College Scorecard – out there to help you pick a program that gives you a real shot at success.

I am proud of your hard work and dedication, and we will do all we can to continue to provide information to you on your options.

Sincerely,

John B. King Jr., U.S. Secretary of Education

Setting the Foundation for Good Attendance

As a Pre-K teacher, I have the unique opportunity to be one of the first educators to set the foundation for good attendance with parents and students. Since I am required to have an interview with each family and student before the school year begins, I take advantage of the interview to explain the attendance rules and expectations. I explain to parents that attendance is the basis of education for all students and that it is state law that they attend class. My campus, J.J. Pickle, hosts many recent immigrant families who often aren’t familiar with school procedures and laws pertaining to education. Reviewing policies with parents is a way to avoid confusion and unnecessary absences.

Attendance is important at every age! (Photo courtesy of the author)

Attendance is important at every age! (Photo courtesy of the author)

It can be challenging when parents believe that early childhood education is more like a daycare setting rather than an academic one, so they don’t see the problem with their children missing a few days. But I am proud to say that my classroom is academically rigorous — for four year olds. I have had students enter my class not knowing any letters, but they often leave reading by the end of year with significant gains in learning English.

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We Need to Talk About it: Supportive Environments are a Necessity for Quality Schooling

Students at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy. (Photo courtesy of the author)

Students at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy. (Photo courtesy of the author)

Students excel when they feel both welcomed and supported. At Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (CNCA), we believe that quality schooling is dependent upon quality relationships with students and families. This philosophy creates a space to better serve our community in a socially just way.

That’s why CNCA created and sustained an educational model that uses the per-pupil funding that we receive from the state to support strategic resources like full-time mental health practitioners and professional development for teachers and administrators on trauma-sensitive instruction. We also conduct home visits and teach ethnic studies as part of the curriculum to both affirm our relationships with students and to assist them in navigating life circumstances. We’ve found that these types of school climate investments help our students redirect energy to learning and it shows in their academic performance.

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Join Education on the ‘Real-World Learning’ 2016 Green Strides Tour!

U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) and its Green Strides outreach initiative share promising practices and resources in the areas of safe, healthy, and sustainable school environments; nutrition and outdoor physical activity; and environmental and sustainability education.

To bring additional attention to honorees’ practices, ED-GRS has conducted an annual Green Strides tour, allowing schools, school districts, and postsecondary institutions to share their work with community leaders and policymakers and celebrate their achievements. The following is the tentative tour schedule. Updates will be shared through our newsletter.

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Transformation Through Education: The Importance of Second Chance Pell

In order for the nation to increase college access and success for all students, we know that education must occur in a variety of environments, Sing Sing prison included. Our group of college leaders, non-profit, government and corrections officials gathered for a strategic partners meeting to discuss expanding support for prison education programs and to see the work up close.

I started the day struck by stark contrasts — the daunting high walls and barbwire fencing overlooking the calm, picturesque waters of the Hudson River — the setting for an impassioned conversation about the value of education with a group of incarcerated college students. The students we met are enrolled in the Hudson Link educational program but as visitors that day, we were the ones going to school.

Hudson Link alumnus and Academic Coordinator Todd Young, Talisha Duncan, daughter of Hudson Link alumnus Douglas Duncan, and Kim Hunter Reed. (Photo courtesy of the author)

Hudson Link alumnus and Academic Coordinator Todd Young, Talisha Duncan, daughter of Hudson Link alumnus Douglas Duncan, and Kim Hunter Reed. (Photo courtesy of the author)

We heard tough facts from a black male who noted, “When you come up with nothing, you wind up in jail or dead. We wound up in jail.” We also saw demonstrations of transformation through education.

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10 Common Tweets @FAFSA Gets on Twitter

Student on laptop.

We’ve been answering a lot of your back-to-school comments and questions on Twitter! Here are some of the most popular tweets we get, with our answers:


1. We get this question so many times a day! Your school will disburse (pay out) your financial aid, not the federal government. Since each school has a different timeline for awarding aid, you’ll have to call your school’s financial aid office to find out the specific date.


2. College can be expensive, we know! We provide as much aid as we can based on the information you provided on your FAFSA. There are many factors we take into account, like your year in school and how much it costs to attend your school. If you need more financial aid, here are 7 options you should consider. Make sure you look into applying for local scholarships or talk to your school’s financial aid office for personalized advice.


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Increased Oversight of ITT and the Impact on Students

In recent years, ITT Educational Services, Inc. (ITT) has increasingly been the subject of state and federal investigations and this year it has twice been found out of compliance with its accreditor’s standards. Over time, ITT’s decisions have put its students and millions of dollars in taxpayer funded federal student aid at risk. In response, over the last couple of years, we at the Department of Education have increased our financial oversight over ITT and required the school to boost its cash reserves to cover potential damages to taxpayers and students.

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An American Teacher in China

Every year during back to school season, I find the time to reflect on students I’ve met in the past and unique classroom experiences I’ve had.

I have had the opportunity to visit China twice – once in 2012 and once in 2015 – and during both visits I was able to visit schools and speak with teachers and students.

During my last trip, I spoke with teachers in Luoyang, Shenzhen, Beijing and Wuhan.

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Parents: 9 Back to School Pro Tips

Back to school time can be a hectic time for both you and the kiddos. These are some of our best back to school tips to help ensure this school year gets off to a great start!

 

BTS-Blog-Tip-1

 

Walk or ride the route your child will take and make note of school patrols, crossing guards and high traffic areas along the way. Talk to your kids about NOT talking to strangers and find out what, if any, policies your child’s school has regarding early arrivals or late pick-ups. Learn about the school’s entrance and exit policies. Then, if you can, pop in and check out what the inside of the school looks like.

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Learning to Let Go: It’s Time for Preschool

This year, I sent my youngest child to preschool.

Over the summer, we had the luxury of hours of cuddle time, reading books together, jumping on the trampoline and building endless Lego and wood block structures.

Chowin' down! (photo courtesy of the author)

Chowin’ down! (photo courtesy of the author)

But now, it’s time for him to start his preschool journey – and I’m feeling a little hesitant about a few things.

First, I am really going to miss him every day. What if other kids say harsh things to him and his feelings get hurt? What if he trips and falls? Or, what if he has an accident and the teachers don’t comfort him as well as I can?

I’m worried about a lot – but I’m also very excited.

Noé’s preschool is diverse in a number of ways. Students are as young as two years old or as old as five. The student population is also made up of kids from different socio-economic backgrounds, as well as different ethnic and language backgrounds. Additionally, some families have a generational history of high levels of education while other may or may not have attained high school diplomas.

Every day, the teachers set up learning stations where students can create, arrange, construct, converse, act out, write, draw or play together.

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Debunking Common Myths Behind U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools

What is a “green” or “sustainable” school, you ask? Read on!

What is a “green” or “sustainable” school, you ask? Read on!

Five years ago, I was tasked with developing what came to be called U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS).  You may have heard of it.  The recognition award is now known for honoring sustainable schools annually.

What is a “green” or “sustainable” school, you ask?  Well, we established a federal definition when we created the award.  That federal education definition includes three broad areas that we call PillarsPillar I is ‘Reducing Environmental Impact and Costs‘, including waste, water, greenhouse gases, energy, and transportation. Pillar II is ‘Improving Health and Wellness‘, including physical activity, nutrition, and environmental health. Pillar III is ‘Teaching Effective Environmental and Sustainability Education.’

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