Specialist at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services since October.
When Joe lost his job, he decided to take advantage of assistance for displaced workers, earning his associate degree at Macomb Community College. Joe then landed a new job, making a fresh start as a maintenance mechanic working for the new Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.
“This is a landmark piece of legislation by any yardstick,” said Terry Hartle, the senior vice president for government and public affairs for the , a Washington-based organization representing higher education institutions. “I would not be surprised if it’s the major piece of higher ed legislation for several years.” Customer service from banks left a lot to be desired, so Parkland Community College in Champaign, IL, made the switch to 100 percent direct loans in 1995, said Tim Wendt, the director of financial aid and veterans services. “It’s been a positive for us.” With a common origination-disbursement center, financial aid offices can originate Pell Grants, direct lending, and parental loans in a one-stop shop, he said. And with the new law, students will have increased access to Pell Grants, one lender for loans, and better repayment terms. “This is one of those rare moments when Washington is actually working. Everything is just the way it should be for the student,” Mr. Wendt said. “After all, that’s why we are here; to give students access to education and, at community colleges, often giving them a second chance.” [Education Week, June 9, 2010]
Under the Income-Based Repayment Program, college students with moderate incomes can better manage their debt with lower monthly payments linked to their income. If they work in public service their loans will be forgiven after 10 years. For everyone else, loans will be forgiven after 25 years. A teacher earning the average national salary will see loan payments reduced by $12,725 over 10 years.
Simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Providing financial aid to students is a top priority in higher education. But that aid only helps if students apply for it and claim it. Until 2009, the online application for federal student aid was long and complicated. The Obama Administration has taken many steps to reduce the complexity of the form and the amount of time necessary to complete it. In a partnership with other federal agencies , the Department now allows applicants to retrieve tax records electronically, making it easier for users to complete the forms and more efficient for the Department to administer. Over the past two academic years, the number of federal student aid applicants increased by 35 percent – from 16.4 million to 22.1 million.
Just as the Administration has challenged stakeholders across the education community to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for all students, the Obama Administration has also committed to a more transparent and engaging role at the federal level to help all students keep on track toward college- and career-readiness.
Secretary Duncan has transformed the Department of Education from a compliance-driven bureaucracy to an engine of innovation that supports bold reforms at the state and local level, builds capacity for change across the entire system, and drives demand for quality education among parents and other stakeholders.
Secretary Duncan has personally traveled to 39 states over the past 18 months, while his senior staff has visited all of the others and several territories, holding . countless town hall meetings and small group meetings with teachers, parents, administrators, community leaders, elected officials and others.
Secretary Duncan and his senior leaders are committed to improving the management of the Department, turning it into a place to attract the best education talent in the country.