This week the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released information about the expansion of Pell Grant eligibility. Read below to learn more about what this means, as well as ED’s “Return to School Roadmap” and a new wave of approved state K-12 stimulus plans.
ED Announces Expansion of Second Chance Pell Program
ED announced the expansion of the Second Chance Pell experiment for the 2022-2023 award year. This will allow up to 200 colleges and universities to offer prison education programs with support from the Pell Grant program- an increase from the 131 that are currently participating. So far, the Second Chance Pell experiment has provided education opportunities to thousands of justice-involved individuals who previously did not have access to federal need-based financial aid, and over 7,000 credentials have been earned.
ED plans to implement the recently-enacted legislative changes to allow eligible learners in college-in-prison programs to access Pell Grants beginning on July 1, 2023. The Department also announced plans to publish regulations on the program ahead of its implementation. Institutions can submit an application to participate in the new cohort of Second Chance Pell.
Advance CTE supports permanent Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated individuals, and is pleased that the program is expanding.
ED Releases Return to School Roadmap
On Monday ED released the “Return to School Roadmap,” a resource to support students, schools, educators and communities as they prepare to return to safe and healthy in-person learning this fall. In the upcoming weeks, the Roadmap will lay out actionable strategies to implement the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) updated guidance for K-12 schools. The Roadmap includes three “Landmark” priorities that schools, districts and communities are encouraged to focus on to set all learners up for success, including:
- Prioritizing the health and safety of students, staff and educators;
- Building school communities and supporting students’ social, emotional and mental health; and
- Accelerating academic achievement.
ED will release resources for practitioners and parents on each of the priorities, highlight schools and districts that are using innovative practices to address the priorities and elevate ways that the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and other federal funds can be used to support the priorities.
Along with the launch of the Roadmap, ED released:
- A fact sheet for schools, families and communities on the Roadmap, reviewing the three “Landmark” priorities, as well as elevating schools and districts that are addressing each in effective ways.
- A guide for schools and districts outlining what schools can do to protect the health and safety of students, including strategies to increase access to vaccinations and implement the CDC’s recently updated K-12 school guidance.
- A checklist that parents can use to prepare themselves and their children for a safe return to in-person learning this fall.
Upcoming resources and supports from ED as part of the Roadmap include:
- Holding town halls with parents and parent organizations to highlight ways schools and districts are preparing to keep learners safe during in-person learning, while also attending to social, emotional and mental health supports in addition to academic supports.
- Working with partners across the federal government to provide support to schools and districts and answer questions about increasing vaccination access.
- Releasing implementation tools for learners, educators and parents to address the above three priority areas, as well as provide information on how ARP funds can be used to expand access to mental health supports for learners and educators.
- Updating Volumes 1 and 2 of the ED COVID-19 Handbooks.
The White House also released a fact sheet on the Administration’s efforts to safely reopen schools and support learners.
ED Approves More State K-12 Stimulus Plans
ED announced the approval of additional ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) state plans and distributed remaining funds to those states. The five newly approved states and funding levels include:
- Hawai’i: $137 million
- Montana: $127 million
- New Hampshire: $116 million
- New York: $3 billion
- Pennsylvania: $1.6 billion
Meredith Hills, Senior Associate for Federal Policy