By: Richard Cordray, Chief Operating Officer, U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid
Today, I’m pleased to announce that Federal Student Aid (FSA) posted the solicitation for what we’re calling the Unified Servicing and Data Solution (USDS). The USDS is the long-term loan servicing solution designed to provide federal student loan borrowers with a 21st-century customer experience. Building on lessons learned from past loan servicing efforts, FSA and the U.S. Department of Education are committed to holding USDS servicers accountable for a high level of performance and focusing on key objectives like reducing borrower delinquency and default.
As one of the first recipients in Maine of a Pell Grant through the Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative, I cherish these opportunities to represent education’s potential for rehabilitating the imprisoned. My education while incarcerated and my release to the “real world” holds perspective which I offer gratefully to provide more insight on this topic. Transitioning back to normal living has had its challenges, but I’m no stranger to life’s obstacles.
By: Richard Cordray, Chief, U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid
Ten years ago this week, President Barack Obama issued an executive order that established guiding principles to protect veterans, service members, and their families who pursue higher education. These are known formally as the Principles of Excellence for Educational Institutions Serving Service Members, Veterans, Spouses, and Other Family Members. To apply these principles, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) works with the Departments of Defense (DoD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to ensure colleges and career schools provide quality educational opportunities to military-connected students.
By: Andrew O’Donnell, intern for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid
As someone currently attending community college, I can tell you firsthand about many of its benefits. Not only is community college significantly cheaper than four-year institutions and often much closer to home, it’s also a great place to begin your postsecondary education if you’re someone like me who was unsure of a specific program of study to pursue right after graduating from high school.
By: Kristen Donoghue, Chief Enforcement Officer, U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid
The U.S. government helps service members, veterans, and their family members (i.e., military-connected students) achieve the American dream through higher education, especially with two important benefit programs: (1) the Military Tuition Assistance (TA) program, which supports course work for active duty, National Guard, and Reserve Component service members; and (2) the GI Bill®, which supports post-service course work. These benefits can cover up to 100% of tuition and a living stipend at approximately 5,600 American colleges, universities, and career schools, giving those who served and their families the opportunity to build a better future through education.
By: Rich Williams, Chief of Staff, Office of Postsecondary Education
Paying for higher education involves more than just completing the FAFSA® form and accepting financial aid. For most students, figuring out how to pay for college is the first major financial decision of their lifetimes—and the stakes could not be higher. A wrong choice can saddle students with higher college costs that follow them long into the future.
As the chief operating officer at Federal Student Aid (FSA), I am committed to ensuring that borrowers receive high-quality service that helps them access the benefits granted by law. The work we do at FSA is crucial for protecting the more than 43 million Americans who have federal student loans.
Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that pursuing a college education is not just about getting accepted and enrolling in a college. First-generation and low-income college students were burdened with the struggle to pay expensive college fees for a virtual education while being separated from on-campus resources and in-person support from students and faculty. For first-generation and low-income college students, being accepted into a college is a major accomplishment that opens the door to numerous possibilities, such as having higher average salaries and healthier lifestyles. However, there needs to be more support for first-generation and low-income students throughout college, not just to the acceptance letter, for them to enjoy the benefits of obtaining a college degree.
As students and families prepare for education beyond high school, cost is a critical consideration. At Federal Student Aid, we know students and families often have to make tough decisions about higher education, and we know the COVID-19 emergency has made some of those decisions even harder.
In typical times, submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form is the first step students and families should take to access federal dollars for college or career school; this is especially true during this challenging period.
Federal Student Aid has renewed our commitment to delivering innovative tools and resources to empower you throughout your financial aid journey. This month, we’ve made updates to some of those pretty well-known resources on StudentAid.gov: entrance and exit counseling.
Entrance counseling—required before you receive your first Direct Subsidized or Direct Unsubsidized Loan as an undergraduate and before you receive your first Direct PLUS Loan as a graduate or professional student—ensures that you understand the responsibilities and rights that come with taking out a federal student loan. Exit counseling—required when you leave school or drop below half-time enrollment—provides important information needed to prepare for repaying federal student loans.
Entrance and exit counseling are critical parts of the financial aid journey, and we’re excited to make this experience better for you.