Recognizing Inspiring School Employees for a Second Year

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom.

Even a pandemic cannot stop the arrival of year two of the newest recognition award at the U.S. Department of Education (ED).  Designed to shine a spotlight on good work and ignite more positive contributions, while engaging state and local stakeholders, the Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award is kicking off its second award cycle, with nominations due to ED this fall. ED is also seeking peer reviewers to help select the single national honoree this winter.

This award was inaugurated back in April 2019, when Congress passed the Recognizing Achievement in Classified School Employees Act, enabling ED to begin honoring one extraordinary education support professional annually.  The subsequent fall, ED officially launched the first award cycle.

While we received many inspiring nominations during the 2020-21 contest, one individual stood out above all others. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona ultimately selected Mr. Melito Ramirez, an Intervention Specialist at Walla Walla High School in Walla Walla, Washington, for this honor, announcing the award via a video message.

Over his 40-year career, Ramirez has worked for multiple school districts in more than a dozen different roles, such as migrant home visitor, summer school coordinator, special education secretary, and bus driver.  He is also known for his help in organizing a multilingual adult night school.  He supports students as they apply for and participate in youth leadership programs — including rising well before dawn each weekend to drive them five hours to programming across the state.  Ramirez is also credited with diminishing tensions among rival gang members in the 1990s when gang conflict was high in the Walla Walla area by coordinating supervised out-of-school activities.

To notify him personally of his recognition, ED and the Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction coordinated a surprise video conference, with State Superintendent Chris Reykdal and Secretary Cardona as special guests.  Since his award announcement, Ramirez has well represented the classified school employee community at multiple national events that draw on his expertise.

This year, ED once again invites states to nominate up to two classified school employees by November 1, 2021.

A federal review will take place during November and December.  For this reason, ED seeks individuals with expertise in the various education support professions to help rate submissions.

One nominee is selected a national RISE Awardee, but all states are encouraged to honor and communicate their nominees.

Individuals interested in nominating or applying should contact their governor’s office to inquire about their state-specific process.  Governors’ office and state education agency program administrators may contact with any questions and to indicate a state’s plans to participate for the coming cycle.  Interested reviewers may also contact, by October 1, to volunteer as a reviewer.

We look forward to getting energized and inspired by the efforts of dedicated education support professionals across the country.  Their work is ever more critical and appreciated in these challenging times, so we are thrilled to offer a measure of federal accolades.

Andrea Suarez Falken is Director of the Recognizing Inspiring School Employees Award, as well as Director of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, and ED’s Facilities, Health, and Environment Liaison.

Innovations in Addressing COVID-19 and Promoting Equity: FY 2021 Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Competition Announcement

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom

The U.S. Department of Education is pleased to announce the $180 million FY 2021 Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Early-Phase Competition. The EIR program provides funding to create, develop, implement, replicate, or take to scale entrepreneurial, evidence-based, field-initiated innovations aimed at improving outcomes for high-needs students. The program also supports the rigorous evaluation of these innovations. The Department expects that early-phase grants will be used to fund the development, implementation, and feasibility testing of a program.

State educational agencies, local educational agencies, the Bureau of Indian Education, and nonprofit organizations may submit applications for up to $4 million for a project period of up to five years.

We know that COVID–19 has caused unprecedented disruption in schools across the country and drawn renewed attention to the ongoing challenges that underserved students experience. As a result, the Department is committed to addressing the impact of the pandemic—particularly on students who have been least well served by our education system—and promoting equity through innovative solutions that are reflected in this program’s competitive preference priorities

All across the country, educators and researchers are working to better understand and address the impact of inconsistent access to academic instruction and other vital educational services and supports, as well as other challenges that have affected children’s learning. SEAs, LEAs, and nonprofit organizations play essential roles in building capacity at the state and local levels both to respond to current crises and create better systems to support long-term recovery. Here at the Department, we hope that grantees through the EIR program will share their responses to the pandemic widely to inform scalable strategies that can help meet future challenges that communities throughout the nation face.

Expanding educational equity is a priority for the Department, with particular emphasis on supporting students who are historically and presently underserved. The Department seeks to fund projects that propose innovative ways to address disparities in our education system. For example, we know that students of color and students from low-income backgrounds far too often have less access to well-rounded and rigorous coursework and certified, experienced, and effective teachers. The Department seeks projects that develop and evaluate evidence-based innovations to remedy these types of inequities in our education system.

· Deadline for Notice of Intent to Apply: August 17, 2021
· Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: August 27, 2021

For more information regarding the FY 2021 EIR Competition, please visit the program website. Please direct questions to or (202) 453-7122.

Written by Jamila Smith, Director, Innovation and Early Learning Programs, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

The Next Decade of Climate Leadership at the U.S. Department of Education: An Exchange of Ideas to Inform the Agency’s Climate Adaptation Plan

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom.

On January 27, 2021, the Biden Administration issued Executive Order (E.O.) 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. The order revitalizes past Federal efforts to enhance adaptation and bolster resilience by requiring each Federal agency to devise a Climate Adaptation Plan. The plans are a first step in leveraging Federal agencies to demonstrate climate leadership through both policy and example.

Given the opportunity presented by the creation of these Climate Adaptation Plans, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) will host virtual “Listening Sessions” with the public. The aim of these sessions will be to support an exchange of ideas around the opportunities for Federal climate leadership within ED. These sessions will inform the agency’s Climate Adaptation Plan and subsequent implementation and explore the connections between climate, the safe reopening of schools, and ongoing efforts to advance educational equity.

These listening sessions will take place around the ten-year anniversary of a successful collaboration in 2011 among key leaders from some 80 national and state-based nonprofit organizations and ED to honor schools for their sustainable facilities, wellness practices, and effective environmental education. The award that evolved from this collaboration, U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS), continues to be a powerful contributor to the national green schools movement.  With a new call to action from the Biden Administration, supportive Federal agencies which are engaged in this work, and a history of successful collaboration with nonprofit organizations, ED seeks to solicit input from a diverse set of stakeholders on opportunities for partnership and innovation.

Each listening session will be focused on specific themes that reflect the breadth of the opportunities and challenges related to climate adaptation. Engaging ED political leadership and key stakeholders, the aim of these input sessions will be to discuss opportunities for climate leadership that exist within ED’s statutory authority. Sessions are also intended to encourage further multilateral collaboration among the breadth of agencies and organizations with an interest in climate-resilient schools.

The Listening Sessions will be hosted by ED via Microsoft Teams meeting.  Topics and dates are as follows:

  1. Equity in Sustainable Schools: Targeting Underserved Populations for Federal SupportAug. 3, 2 p.m. ET
  2. School Infrastructure and Federal ProgramsAug. 5, 2 p.m. ET
  3. Career Opportunities in the Green and Blue Economy, Aug. 18, 2 p.m. ET
  4. Incentivizing Outdoor and Environmental EducationAug. 23, 2 p.m. ET
  5. Postsecondary SustainabilityAug. 30, 2 p.m. ET

All are welcome. It is preferred that attendees register with name, role, and organization to You may also click on the Teams embedded in each session title to join.

For each session, an ED Administration official will articulate the Agency’s rationale for focusing on the theme and identify connections to the Biden Administration priorities such as jobs and equity. ED Administration officials will briefly introduce the Administration’s existing work, including other federal agency programs, but the vast majority of each session will be open to participants’ input. We are requesting discussion topics of interest and questions be sent by Friday July 30 to

For years, ED has benefited from proposals, letters, and requests from an engaged set of stakeholders on matters relating to school sustainability and infrastructure. Please put on your sustainability thinking caps and join us for an unprecedented opportunity to inform Administration officials about some of the most pressing education issues of our time.

Andrea Suarez Falken is Director of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools and ED’s Facilities, Health, and Environment Liaison, as well as Director of the Recognizing Inspiring School Employees Award.

Students, Immigration Status, and the Right to Public Education

The following is a cross-post from the Office for Civil Rights.

Students, immigration status, and the right to public education


An essential part of ensuring equal opportunity is protecting all students in their access to education free from discrimination. This includes the right of all students in the United States to attend America’s public elementary and secondary schools, regardless of their immigration or citizenship status.

Students continue to have this right to public elementary and secondary education after last Friday’s federal district court ruling regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, which bars the Department of Homeland Security from approving new applicants but temporarily permits renewals to continue for those who currently have DACA. Secretary Cardona stated in response to the ruling:

We are deeply disappointed by the recent decision by a federal district court in Texas to block access to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. The outcome will be harmful to promising young people who have grown up here, and shared their talents and energies with our communities. Many of these young people cannot remember any other home.

Through the centuries, this nation – including our schools – has been enriched by those who have come to our shores from all over the world, seeking safety, freedom, and the opportunity to contribute to our democracy. We draw strength from our diversity. I want to be clear that under the law, public elementary and secondary schools remain available to any student, and no state can deny access to public education to any resident, regardless of their immigration status. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights will continue to safeguard those rights for all students, including those affected by the ruling. We will work to ensure the nation’s public schools, colleges and universities will be welcoming, safe and supportive places where all students, regardless of where they’re born and their immigration status, are given the opportunity to succeed.

Here’s what you need to know about the right to a public education for students who are not U.S. citizens:

  • A State may not deny access to public education to any child residing in the State, including children who are not citizens and do not have immigration documentation. The Supreme Court made this clear nearly forty years ago in a case called Plyler v. Doe.
  • School districts may not bar students from enrolling in public elementary and secondary schools based on the citizenship or immigration status of the student or their parent or guardian.
  • School districts may not request information about the citizenship or immigration status of students or their families with the purpose or result of denying them access to educational opportunities.
  • Students who are English learners have a right to appropriate language assistance services, and parents and guardians have a right to receive communications from their children’s school in a language they can understand.

We invite you to use these resources that are designed to help students, families, schools, and districts understand the rights of students who are undocumented and the obligations of the schools that serve them:

Our nation derives strength from our diversity and has excelled because of, not in spite of, the many people who have come to the United States from all parts of the world. We grow stronger still when all students in the United States have full access to education, free from discrimination. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights stands ready to provide that protection.

Honoring Teachers’ Commitment to Continual Improvement through Collaboration

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom.

Teacher Appreciation Week is one of my favorite times of the school year! Honoring the educators who spend countless hours creating lesson plans, building authentic relationships, and welcoming students into the learning space – whether it be in-person, online, or both – has been such a joy. I think back to my time growing up and fondly remember those who influenced me with their encouraging words, supportive nature, and praise of my efforts. My teachers, Ms. Pendergast, Mrs. Dixon, and Mr. Anderson were just three of many educators that left a lasting impression by showing me how much effort matters. I am grateful to them and to have this incredible opportunity to honor the efforts made by our nation’s teachers.

I am appreciative of the pre-service teachers that are just entering classrooms for the first time.  They bring such joy, hope, and creativity to the field. I have been inspired this past year watching new teachers step into the field while navigating the challenges of virtual job searches and amidst the new challenges facing education during the pandemic. The circumstances in which these educators have trained for has changed dramatically yet new teachers poured their passion into our nation’s classrooms bringing energy in the midst of immense changes to the field. I appreciate the commitment and problem-solving they are bringing to the classroom to help our nation’s students navigate new learning environments and experience academic and social success. These educators study, revise, and apply new learning to continually improve their practice.

Thank goodness for experienced mentor teachers who help usher the next generation through all the trials and tribulations of getting started in the classroom! This year was especially unique as veteran teachers were faced with new challenges of their own. Still, many took on the challenge of supporting new teachers and welcoming them to the field. It’s incredibly important that new teachers have a safe, caring relationship with experienced teachers, but these efforts take time and concerted effort. Experienced teachers work side-by-side helping new educators grow and develop professionally by offering guidance, co-developing lessons, and crafting continual feedback. At the same time, veteran educators seek out new techniques and refine their own practice. In new roles I have taken on, I have valued the people that let me ask questions and were there to support me when I stumbled. It is gratifying to see that these professional relationships often help teachers feel more connected to each other, to their schools, and to the profession.

One of the most amazing things I’ve witnessed this year is the efforts that teachers and school staff have made to personally connect with their students. Morning meetings, daily celebrations, check-ins, and even daily conversation starters about students’ lives have taken on new importance.  I’ve seen new and veteran teachers reach out and forge those special connections with their students and tying their interests into lessons.  I love hearing the connections my own children are making in their classrooms when we have been home together this past year. This special connection between teachers and their students is one I hope we continue to nurture as we return to in-person learning.

Along my life’s journey, I have been blessed to have teachers and faculty who were committed to my success, from preschool through law school. As the daughter of a math teacher and a computer scientist who served as adjunct faculty, both of my parents instilled in me a desire to help craft a better system; one where all families and students feel welcomed and supported the same way I did. I am thrilled to know new and veteran teachers are committed to supporting and learning from one another. Though new teachers and veterans both face unique challenges, they commit to improving their craft collaboratively, putting in time, effort, and attention to ongoing learning for themselves and their students. Our teachers are determined to create a path forward where all children can thrive. It is with deepest appreciation that we honor the work of these teachers, this and every week.

Donna Harris-Aikens is the Senior Advisor for Policy and Planning in the Office of the Secretary.

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First-Ever RISE Awardee Announced

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom.

Need a reason for celebration? In the Recognition Programs Unit of ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach, we have several of them spread throughout the year.  The newest recognition award joining the family, structured to shine a spotlight good work and ignite more positive contributions, while engaging state and local stakeholders with their federal education agency, is the Recognizing Inspiring School Employees award.

In April 2019, Congress passed the Recognizing Achievement in Classified School Employees Act enabling the U.S. Department of Education to begin honoring one extraordinary education support professional annually and that fall, ED launched the first cycle of the award, with nominations from governors and state education agencies, often working together, due by November 1, 2020.

Even under pandemic circumstances, ED received 32 nominations from 20 states for the RISE award including nominations for paraprofessionals, nutrition workers, custodians, security personnel, bus drivers, and other paraprofessionals. Their contributions to schools and students – especially during this pandemic year – were remarkable. The 18 internal and external reviewers remarked just how deserving they ALL were! For this reason, ED has encouraged every participating state to honor its finalists.

While we received many inspiring stories, one individual stood out. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona selected Mr. Melito Ramirez, Intervention Specialist, at Walla Walla High School, in Walla Walla, Washington for this honor, announcing the award in this video.

Secretary Miguel Cardona announces first-ever RISE award recipient

Over his distinguished 40-year career, Ramirez has worked for multiple school districts in more than a dozen different roles such as migrant home visitor, summer school coordinator, special education secretary, and bus driver. Ramirez now conducts home visits, bridges the gap between home and school for Spanish speaking families, and works to secure the mental health and technological resources students need.

Ramirez is known for his help in organizing a multilingual adult night school. He supports students as they apply for and participate in youth leadership programs — including rising well before dawn each weekend to drive them five hours to programming across the state. Ramirez is also credited with diminishing tensions among rival gang members in the 1990s when gang conflict was high in the Walla Walla area by coordinating supervised out-of-school activities.

Mr. Ramirez with his award

Today, we celebrate Mr. Ramirez for demonstrating courage and resourcefulness over decades of service. We are reminded of the critical work of all classified school employees in supporting student success.  Individuals interested in nominating or applying should contact their governor’s office to inquire about state-specific process. Governors’ office and state education agency program administrators may contact with any questions and to indicate a state’s plans to participate for the coming cycle.  We look forward to celebrating many education support professionals in the years to come!

Andrea Suarez Falken is Director of the Recognizing Inspiring School Employees Award, as well as Director of U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools, and ED’s Facilities, Health, and Environment Liaison.

A Letter to America’s Teachers

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom.

I never could predict what might happen in Mr. O’Neil’s art classes; I just knew I couldn’t wait for the next assignment.  Back then I didn’t realize all the ways this dynamic educator, a rare man of color leading our diverse classroom of second graders, was serving as a pioneer and role model for me and my peers in John Barry Elementary School.  But I’ll never forget how his teaching made me feel.  As a second grader, I remember looking up — watching him encourage, challenge and guide us – and thinking: “I want to be like him.”

In the years since embracing that calling and starting my career as a classroom teacher, I’ve kept that sense of purpose and wonder.  And my goal in all the administrative roles I’ve held is to facilitate great teaching and learning: to support and expand the transformative impact that skilled, caring classroom teachers have for students, schools, and communities.

Every day America’s teachers change lives, and every day those lives change the world.

Now, this truth can seem to recede as you rush to keep up with the day’s intense pace, and your students’ needs and opportunities. Yet, from the first bell on the first day of the school year, you build a relationship with each of them. You learn their strengths and struggles, laugh with them, cry with them, worry over them, cheer for them – and at the end of the school year, help them transition to their next grade level adventure. You know all those experiences – both the academic and life lessons – have changed both you and them for the better.  You empower them to grow in skill and character — expand their understanding of the world and how to shape it — explore their interests and decide where to make their mark.

Teaching is not a job anyone just falls into. It is mastery of a craft: in fact, the craft that enables all the others. In my experience, great teachers are also quintessential lifelong learners. You use your command of learning science, your insights into your students’ unique needs and aptitudes, as well as the lessons of the past, the realities of the present and the inspiration, innovation and ingenuity of the future to help each new generation become leaders for today and tomorrow. Throughout the year you support your fellow educators, add to your tools through professional development, provide feedback on assignments, sponsor sports, service learning, clubs and other extracurricular activities, collaborate with parents –in addition to everything you pour into your students during class.

Even in this unprecedented year, you rallied, finding new ways to engage with students. In the face of tragedy, you learned new technologies and built virtual classroom communities, all while caring for yourselves and your own families.  As we heal, recover, and rebuild, this pandemic presents a chance to forge opportunity from crisis and reimagine education on every level. We will use this time to address inequities in our education system, and your contributions will be invaluable.  The work won’t be easy, but the impact of your success will be profound, for students and communities. I urge state, local, and elected officials to make sure classroom teachers have a voice in your plans and efforts to reimagine education; second to parents, they know our students best.

I look forward to learning and listening from you in the days ahead.  And, from all of us at the Department of Education: Happy Teacher Appreciation Week. There’s a reason teacher like Mr. O’Neil – and all of you – are memorable.  There’s a reason student in America’s classrooms watch you share your curiosity, energy and passion for ideas and think, “I want to be like them.”

You are embodiments of possibility, champions of your students’ potential and stewards of their success.

Dr. Miguel A. Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education.

Building STEM Communities with Community Colleges

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Energy blog.

April is Community College Month. We’re jumping in to celebrate by sharing our STEM workforce development and education outreach opportunities. These programs target students from the more than 1,000 public and private community colleges across the United States. (And did you know that Dr. Jill Biden is a community college teacher alongside her role as First Lady of the United States?)

Community colleges educate a diverse student population across age, family educational attainment, race, and area of study, reflecting the nation as a whole. They often reach students who are unable to access traditional, four-year degree programs. According to the U.S. Census, more than 30 percent of college students are undergraduates at two-year colleges. More than half of students in community colleges  attend part-time as they develop workforce skills and earn associate degrees, certificates, or baccalaureate degrees. Students at community colleges are able to obtain a high-quality education that’s affordable and can launch them straight into careers or other four-year degree programs.

America is poised to make a major investment in community college infrastructure. The American Jobs Plan proposes spending $12 billion for facilities and technologies as well as identifying strategies to address access to community colleges in education deserts.

Internships Program

The DOE’s flagship program is our Community College Internships (CCI) program through the Office of Science. It’s a competitive 10-week paid internship for community college students. Students can work at one of 16 participating DOE national laboratories under the supervision of lab technicians or researchers. They work on technologies, instrumentation projects, or major research facilities in support of DOE’s mission. Host laboratories also offer additional professional development opportunities, including workshops, laboratory tours, and scientific lectures. Internships are offered in the spring, summer, and fall.

Applications for the Fall 2021 term of this program are due on May 27, 2021.

Community College Internships participant Nabeel Jaser used his interest in engineering to advance research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source facility.
Community College Internships participant Nabeel Jaser used his interest in engineering to advance research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Spallation Neutron Source facility.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The experiences of CCI participants mirror the diverse research done at our national laboratories. At Argonne National Laboratory in 2018, Brenda Escobedo developed a device that mimicked a piece of the Gammasphere Accelerator. Engineers at Argonne were in the process of upgrading the detector and used Escobedo’s device to test the upgrade.

Mwesi Musisi-Nkambwe interned at Brookhaven National Laboratory through both the Community College Internships program (2003) and the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships program (2004). During his internships, he improved the interface in the control room of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (an Office of Science user facility) that technicians use to manage the equipment.

At Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2016, Nabeel Jaser worked to improve the efficiency of the beamline of one of the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world. With his mentor, he constructed a tool that scientists could use to change out samples more quickly.

Community colleges provide opportunities for millions of Americans from all walks of life and while the American Jobs Plan is paving the way for even more Americans to benefit, the DOE’s internship program is just one of many ways it supports STEM workforce development and education. For more resources for college and graduate students in STEM from the U.S. Department of Energy, visit STEM Rising.

Shannon Brescher Shea is a Social Media Manager and Senior Writer/Editor for the Office of Science.
AnneMarie Horowitz has been with the Energy Department since 2009, and is the Director of STEM Rising, a priority Departmental initiative to highlight the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs and resources of the agency.

Let’s Urge High School Seniors to Complete the FAFSA® Form Today

This was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom

By: Federal Student Aid

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.

In addition to federal student aid, submitting the FAFSA form also can unlock opportunities for aid from some states, postsecondary institutions, and private organizations. Because many states have limited funds, students and families should know their state’s deadline and submit the FAFSA form as early as possible.

At Federal Student Aid, we’ve seen an alarming decline in the number of high school seniors who’ve submitted the 2021–22 FAFSA form. In fact, compared to the same time last year, there’s been a 9.2% national decline in first-time FAFSA submissions by high school seniors (data as of Feb. 26, 2021). In several states—like Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, and West Virginia—the decline reaches double digits.

Data sources: U.S. Census Bureau, 2019 American Community Survey One-Year Estimates; U.S. Department of Education office of Federal Student Aid: 2020–21 FAFSA® Application Cycle (Oct. 1, 2019–Feb. 26, 2020) to 2021–22 FAFSA Application Cycle (Oct. 1, 2020–Feb. 26, 2021)

When we closely examine the states with the greatest declines in first-time FAFSA submissions, we find overlap with some of the states with high percentages of individuals living below the poverty level.

Higher education remains a prominent avenue for upward mobility in America. That’s why Federal Student Aid’s mission is to fund America’s future, one student at a time. By being the most-trusted source of information about federal student aid, we want to ensure all students can access higher education regardless of their ZIP code.

But today, many students across the nation are missing out on federal student aid—including critical need-based aid—by failing to submit the FAFSA form. Each year, the federal government provides more than $115 billion in federal grants, work-study funds, and loans; in award year 2018–19, about one-quarter of that aid was in the form of grants, awarded to students with financial need.

We need your help reaching students and their families. We need your help telling them that submitting the FAFSA form today—despite current uncertainties—opens up options for the future.

The U.S. Department of Education has reminded financial aid professionals that they have the authority to adjust financial aid packages based on factors, such as changes in family income. A few weeks ago, Federal Student Aid asked education leaders in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. to join us in making FAFSA completion for high school seniors a priority. And, many have responded!

For example, following a recent FAFSA completion campaign in Louisiana, FAFSA submissions increased by 5%, and education officials are making plans for a follow-up outreach campaign. Arkansas officials are partnering with Federal Student Aid, nonprofits, and for-profit organizations to develop electronic resource kits for students and families. They’re even using TikTok, the social media video-sharing platform, to engage students!

Reaching students and families where they are is why we created the myStudentAid mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android devices. The mobile app offers a convenient option for students and families to fill out and submit the FAFSA form from a cell phone or tablet. There’s a personalized dashboard, along with checklists to help students and families stay on track and the option to sign up for text alerts about important actions they need to take.

Help us spread the word to students and families to take action by filling out and submitting the 2021–22 FAFSA form today. And, please let them know there are several ways to get help if they need it when applying for federal student aid. They can

  • access enhanced help topics on the FAFSA form;
  • visit;
  • use our virtual assistant, Aidan®, on or the myStudentAid mobile app;
  • tweet @FAFSA; and
  • speak with a customer service representative at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).

Working together, we can encourage students and families to fill out the FAFSA form today to open doors to their future.

Celebrating Heroic Women Breaking Glass and Winning Gold

This post was crossposted from the U.S. Department of Education blog, Homeroom.

celebrating heroic women breaking glass and winning gold

Women have made history, shattered glass ceilings, and forged paths in an array of fields spanning from STEM and space exploration to the arts and sports. Through their achievements women have fought for and advanced equality. Some of these remarkable women and their achievements are featured in a new special exhibit housed in the White House. In partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH), the U.S. Department of Education, and the Office of the First Lady, the White House is honoring and celebrating the achievements of women during and beyond Women’s History Month. Celebrate their legacies and lasting impact with us.


From performing heroic work in World War II to demonstrating groundbreaking athleticism in sports, these women have forged paths for future generations to follow. Using the Smithsonian’s virtual Learning Lab, you can take a stroll through the White House’s Center Hall and get an intimate look at the extraordinary women and the objects symbolizing their achievements, on loan from the NMAH.

Women’s History Month Learning Lab

Among the historic artifacts is a 1960s copywriter’s Spanish-language dictionary, which once belonged to Sara Sunshine, a Cuban refugee who cracked the glass ceiling of New York’s advertising industry. Fast forward to 2012 when women were kicking through the glass ceiling at the Olympics. On display is a soccer ball from the 2012 Olympic Games autographed by the gold medal-winning U.S. Women’s National Soccer team. They not only made history by winning gold, they were also part of a significant moment. It was the first Olympics to have female competitors in every sport and the first in which each participating country entered a female representative.

The White House exhibit and Smithsonian Learning Lab are only part of the experience. Discover more women leading throughout history and explore the entire Women’s History collection using the resources below: