Made for Our Times: Mobility, Vibrancy, and the Next 123 Years of the Community College Movement

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By Pam Eddinger, President, Bunker Hill Community College

During my 11 years at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, Massachusetts, I have received many visits from global educators curious about the uniquely American phenomenon of the Community College. In our exchanges, we inevitably observe that we are a place that prepares individuals for the future of work, particularly those from communities traditionally marginalized by the higher education system. In the almost 123 years since our movement’s founding in Joliet, Illinois, community colleges have bridged the demand for educated workers as society advanced, from the agrarian to the industrial age and into the information age of today. We are ever-evolving, ever-adapting, and always made for our times.

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It’s FAFSA Week of Action: Time to Take a #FAFSAFastBreak!

It’s FAFSA Week of Action (April 15-19) and to kick off the effort the U.S. Department of Education is thrilled to announce the launch our #FAFSAFastBreak campaign, a national effort to drive FAFSA submissions among high school seniors and returning college students. Everyone has an important role to play!

We have already received nearly 200 #FAFSAFastBreak commitments from high school counselors, principals, superintendents, after-school programs, parent groups, non-profit organizations, and other local and state education organizations that have pledged to share information and host a variety of virtual and in-person events.

Hosting or attending a #FAFSAFastBreak submission event is a great way to encourage students and families to take advantage of the historic financial benefits afforded by the Better FAFSA.  For example, the new and improved Better FAFSA form can unlock up to $7,395 in federal aid that a student does not need to repay to help cover the cost of college. What’s more, the Better FAFSA ensures 665,000 more students will receive Federal Pell Grants to pay for college, and more than 1.7 million more students will receive the maximum Pell Grant!

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An Update on the First Months of the Return to Repayment

By: Dr. Jordan Matsudaira and U.S. Undersecretary of Education James Kvaal


As the Department of Education works to smoothly transition borrowers back into repayment, we highlight the following:

  • More borrowers made payments on their loans in January and February of this year than in any previous month since these data started being collected in 2018
  • The share of the federal portfolio making payments returned to approximately the same level as in January prior to the pandemic
  • The average payment among borrowers making non-zero payments has nearly returned to its pre-pandemic level —an indication that similar types of borrowers (reflected in their monthly payment amounts) are making payments now relative to prior to the payment pause

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Community Colleges: Building Pathways to the Future

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BY: Amy Loyd, ED.L.D., Assistant Secretary, OCTAE

The American postsecondary education system has seen many transformations, but none so democratic and revolutionary as the founding of the first community college in Joliet, Illinois in 1901. Then-president of the University of Chicago William Harper Rainey, and several other influential university presidents, were convinced that for America to grow and prosper, an accessible pathway was needed to open postsecondary education to all. As a result, community colleges were born.

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HEERF Spending Analysis Shows Critical Role of Emergency Funds for Postsecondary Success

By: Nasser Paydar, Assistant Secretary, Office of Postsecondary Education

As part of the COVID-19 emergency funds that went to higher education institutions, funded through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), institutions are required to file annual reports about how the funds were utilized and their impact. Today, we released the data from the 2022 reporting. While the report makes clear the positive impact these funds – including the $40 billion from the American Rescue Plan – had to help schools during the pandemic, what it also shows us is how beneficial flexible, student-directed, emergency funds can be for postsecondary success, especially for underserved students.

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Raising the Bar for Multilingualism and English Learners Through a Re-Imagined National Professional Development Program (NPD)

The U.S. Department of Education Invites Applications for NPD Competitive Grant

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By: Beatriz Ceja, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) and Loredana Valtierra, Policy Advisor, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development (OPEPD)

The need for bilingual and multilingual teachers is critical more than ever, as over five million of our public-school enrolled students are English learners (ELs). “Raise the Bar (RTB): Lead the World” Initiative is the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department) call to action to transform pre-kindergarten through postsecondary learning and unite around what truly works. The National Professional Development (NPD) program, administered by the Office of English Language Acquisition, is ready to respond to the call. Investments in programs that promote academic excellence to boldly improve teaching and learning will increase our global competitiveness.

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Modernizing Federal Student Loan Servicing

By: Richard Cordray, Chief Operating Office, Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education

This spring, Federal Student Aid (FSA) will begin improving how individual borrowers manage and repay their federal student loans. Through multiple phases, we will bring online an entirely new federal student loan servicing environment – a goal we have pursued for more than a decade. We are excited to reach this important milestone.

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ED Takes Climate Action on Multiple Fronts

Ed Takes Climate Action On Multiple Fronts

ED is committed to promoting equitable access to healthy, safe, sustainable, 21st century learning environments and environmental sustainability learning. Research has demonstrated that modern, well-maintained facilities with healthy indoor environments yield better student performance and health, higher teacher retention, and reduced absenteeism. School buildings and grounds are an essential element of equitable access to learning resources and high-quality learning environments.

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Meet the Your Place in Space Challenge Winners

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High school teachers across the country worked with their students this past fall to enter the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department’s) Your Place in Space Challenge. The challenge was the first in the CTE Momentum series, which prepares high school students for rewarding careers and increases access to career and technical education (CTE). Through the Your Place in Space Challenge, teachers helped their students develop and submit designs for a product or service that advances space missions and explorations.

Dr. Amy Loyd, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, announced the winners today, celebrating dedicated teachers and their innovative students.

“With national initiatives like Raise the Bar: Lead the World and Unlocking Career Success, the Department is on a journey to ensure that all students receive an education that enables them to succeed and thrive in school — and in life. That’s why we launched CTE Momentum,” said Dr. Loyd. “Please join me in congratulating the winning schools, their teachers, and their students, as we celebrate the incredible opportunities that public education has to offer.”

Expert reviewers and judges

A panel of experts evaluated all eligible submissions, advancing the top submissions to be scored by the following judges:

  • Ali Guarneros Luna, Senior System Architect at Lockheed Martin
  • Megan McArthur, an astronaut at NASA
  • Niteesh Elias, Director of Product Design at Honeywell Aerospace
  • Nithya Govindasamy, Senior Director of Policy at Advance CTE
  • Ted Tagami, CEO and co-founder of

After scoring the submissions against the selection criteria, the judges recommended eight winners.

Meet the challenge winners

Congratulations to the Your Place in Space Challenge winners:

  • Anderson W. Clark Magnet High School in La Crescenta, California — Global Mars Navigation: An app for astronauts
  • Chapel Hill High School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina — Freeze-dried Probiotics: Decreasing gut epithelium leakage and reducing risk of food-borne illness in astronauts
  • Collierville High School in Collierville, Tennessee — Chamomile in Space: Growing food and medicine to support space exploration
  • Greater Lowell Technical High School in Tyngsborough, Massachusetts — Vocational Space Habitat: Creating viable living conditions on other planets
  • Halifax County High School in South Boston, Virginia — Plant Pods: Creating sustainable meal solutions on our way to Mars
  • Hirschi High School in Wichita Falls, Texas — AI Satellite System for Cybersecurity: Using recycled materials to prevent cyberattacks in low-earth orbit
  • Kealakehe High School in Kailua Kona, Hawaii — Space Occupation Simulators: Empowering community through a high school initiative
  • Shaker High School in Latham, New York — Hydroponics System: Producing food on Mars

In recognition of their innovative work, the winning teams will each receive $6,250 and in-kind prizes. These prizes include virtual mentorship from experts at Vast Space, Space STEM kits from MaxIQ Space, simulated space missions facilitated by Challenger Center, and facility and manufacturing tours at Blue Origin.

Participate in the CTE Momentum series

Teachers and students interested in the next CTE Momentum challenge can mark their 2024-2025 calendars for the upcoming Power Your Future Challenge. This next challenge will focus on careers in clean energy.

To receive updates about the Power Your Future Challenge, visit and subscribe to the series newsletter.

The Transformative Influence of Academic Advisors

As a college student in the early 2000s, I was fortunate to have an academic advisor to guide me as I pursued learning opportunities, faced challenges, and explored career goals.

Now, as a researcher of academic advising and former post-secondary advisor, I’m sharing my experience to shed light on what advisors do, help students connect with their advisors – and maybe even inspire some future academic advisors!

What is an academic advisor?

Academic advisors fill many roles, but primarily provide guidance, care, and support to students as they navigate their academic journey – from setting & achieving educational, career, and life goals, to ensuring a meaningful learning experience.

I came to see academic advisors as symbols of empowerment who could positively influence the life trajectories of advisees and assist them in their own journeys of self-discovery.

What can an academic advisor do?

Originally, I thought academic advisors mainly assisted students with understanding degree requirements and selecting classes. Today, academic advisors perform many essential responsibilities to serve their advisees (Bermea et al., 2023) like:

  • Recruitment and Registration: Support registration for new and current students while recruiting prospective students.
  • Teaching and Learning: Use reflective pedagogies to teach students strategies for academic, personal, and career success.
  • Coaching and Development: Support advisees’ academic coaching & career development, including goal setting and planning.
  • Intervention and Support: Monitor students’ progression towards graduation and educational goals, with outreach and intervention to keep them on track.
  • Wellness and Well-Being: Help students navigate unexpected challenges and connect them with institutional resources & supports.

What are the benefits of being an academic advisor?

I find my advising work to be incredibly rewarding, with benefits like:

  • Personal Fulfillment: From helping them overcome challenges, to seeing them succeed academically and achieve their goals, it’s deeply fulfilling work.
  • Building Relationships: My work allows me to build meaningful connections with students, understanding their individual needs, aspirations, and challenges.
  • Positive Impact on Campus Culture: Firsthand, I see how effective advising creates a positive culture for students, faculty, staff, and the broader campus community. When students succeed, we all succeed!

How do I prepare to become an academic advisor?

My advisees often ask me how to become an academic advisor – no surprise given that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2023), the demand for advisors is expected to increase over the next decade. Reflecting on my experience, here are a few suggestions:

  • Develop Your Interpersonal Competencies: Focus on improving communication, active listening, cultural humility, and empathy skills to connect with students and provide meaningful and culturally congruent guidance.
  • Gain Practical Experience: Becoming a peer advisor or mentor allows you to gain hands-on experience advising fellow students & addressing unique challenges.
  • Study Academic Advising: Earning a certificate or degree provides a foundation in the theories, principles, and approaches of advising.
  • Get Involved in the Profession: Academic advising conferences, workshops, and seminars are great opportunities to network with professionals & learn about best practices.

The guidance I received over 20 years ago not only helped my personal growth but sparked a genuine interest in the profession of academic advising & shaped the trajectory of my career and purpose. My journey – from advisee to advisor – is a testament to the transformative power of advisors and the power of helping others navigate their paths in school & beyond.


Gabriel Bermea is a Visiting Scholar at The Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions (CMSI), where he conducts research on academic advising practices and student success within and across Minority Serving Institutions.

We Want to Hear From You: Supporting Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Needs in Higher Education

We Want to Hear From You

Supporting Mental Health And Substance Use Disorder Needs In Higher Education

By: Roberto Rodriguez, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development. 

If you need suicide or mental health-related crisis support, or are worried about someone else, please call or text 988 or visit the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline’s chat to connect with a trained crisis counselor.  

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Seven Things to Know About the Student Loan Payment Count Adjustment

Borrowers Have More Time to Consolidate Loans to Benefit from the Adjustment

By: Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer Richard Cordray

Since this summer, the U.S. Department of Education (Department) has approved almost $44 billion in debt relief for more than 900,000 borrowers as part of the payment count adjustment. This is a one-time initiative to address historical failures in administering student loans. It provides much-needed relief to borrowers who have been in repayment for 20 years or more and gives all other borrowers an accurate picture of their progress toward forgiveness going forward. The payment count adjustment is one of several actions that has brought overall forgiveness approved by the Biden-Harris Administration to $132 billion for over 3.6 million borrowers.

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