FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions | U.S – US Department of Education

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U.S. Department of Education
Respuestas en español | Education Resources (Brochure) [PDF, 1.5 MB]
To view materials that show what the budget provides for ED programs and activities, visit our Budget Homepage. Additionally, you may view Budget News to track Congressional action on the Education budget as well as Budget Tables.
Contracts & Acquisitions Management, in the Office of Finance and Operations, is responsible for contract execution (solicitation, award, administration, and closeout of all contracts) and other acquisition instruments for the Department including the ten Regional Offices, but excluding Federal Student Aid (FSA).  For an overview of the contracts process, see Doing Business with the U.S. Department of Education.
Please visit our Contact Us & General Inquiries page to find our toll free numbers and hotlines. You can call to ask an education question at 1-800-872-5327 or file a complaint with one of our offices.
If you wish to contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center for questions about your account, including repayment, loan discharge eligibility or applications or to file a complaint go to: https://studentaid.gov/help-center/contact or call 1-800-433-3243.
We are looking forward to staying connected!  Please sign up for email updates and visit us on FacebookTwitterYouTube or one of our many other social media channels.
Dr. Miguel Cardona was sworn in as the 12th Secretary of Education on March 2nd, 2021.
The U.S. Department of Education was established as a cabinet level agency in 1980. Since that time the following individuals have served as U.S. Secretary of Education:
Betsy DeVos (2017-2021)
John B. King Jr. (2016-2017)
Arne Duncan (2009-2015)
Margaret Spellings (2005-2009)
Roderick Paige (2001-2005)
Richard W. Riley (1993-2000)
Lamar Alexander (1991-1993)
Lauro F. Cavazos (1988-1990)
William J. Bennett (1985-1988)
Terrel H. Bell (1981-1984)
Shirley M. Hufstedler (1979-1981)
Job listings and the application for employment is available on USAJOBS. USAJOBS is the official job site of the Federal government and the Recruitment One-Stop (ROS) resource where you can search for jobs, create resumes, and access information regarding your individual job search.
The Department is leveraging the parent and family voice and facilitating discussions between the Department and families and other stakeholders. Raising the next generation is a shared responsibility. When families, communities and schools work together, students are more successful and the entire community benefits. Please visit Family and Community Engagement for resources and information.
All comments to federal register notices must be made at https://www.regulations.gov. However, you may access a full list of the most recent federal register notices at: https://www.ed.gov/news/fedregister.
The Congress established ED on May 4, 1980 as a Cabinet level agency, in the Department of Education Organization Act (Public Law 96-88 of October 1979). Under this law, ED’s purpose is to:
ED’s mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. To learn more about ED, please explore About ED and our overview of The Federal Role in Education.
ED offers internships for students interested in seeking valuable work experience in government and federal education policy and administration. ED offers internships in the fall, winter/spring, and summer. To review the application process, please visit our Internship program page.
ED designed the School Ambassador Fellowship program to enable outstanding teachers, principals and other school leaders, like school counselors and librarians, to bring their school and classroom expertise to the Department and to expand their knowledge of the national dialogue about education. In turn, School Ambassador Fellows facilitate the learning and input of other educators and community members. For an overview of the program and to apply to be a fellow visit our School Ambassador Fellowship program page.
The Division of Adult Education and Literacy (DAEL) which is part of the Department’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, administers programs that help American adults get the basic skills they need to be productive workers, family members and citizens. The programs emphasize basic skills such as reading, writing, math, English language competency and problem-solving.
To find a literacy program in your area you can search the National Literacy Directory. The state Director of Adult Education can also provide information about state and federally funded programs. You may also wish to contact a neighborhood library, community college, and city or county human services office for information.
The U.S. Department of Labor sponsors the CareerOneStop site that provides career, training and job search resources. For assistance in locating organizations in your state, you may want to use CareerOneStop to find the location of your nearest One-Stop Career Center, where you can go to learn about current job openings and training opportunities in your area.
You may contact your State Adult Education Agency if you would like to receive the equivalent of a high school diploma or certificate, and subsequently, to gain employment or begin postsecondary education or training. This state agency will provide you with information about the exam that meets the guidelines established by the state and assist you in locating a testing site. Additionally, the state can assist you with locating a record of exam results that were taken in the past.
Search by zip code or address to find an English class offered by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grant recipients in your area. You can also contact the National Literacy Directory at 1-877-389-6874. Information on adult education for English Language Learners (ELL) is also available from the National Clearinghouse on English Language Acquisition (NCLEA).
State licensing and regulatory boards are responsible for licensing and regulating most professions. For more information, please contact the appropriate State Licensing and Certification Agency. You can also visit License Finder to find out which careers require a license and get contact information for the licensure process in your state. The state labor authorities can inform you on whether further certifications are needed for your profession.
Title II of the ADA of 1990 prohibits discrimination based on disability by public entities. It applies to any public educational institution. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for enforcing the ADA provisions with respect to public educational entities and public libraries. OCR also enforces Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as it applies to educational institutions. Section 504 provides protection against discrimination on the basis of a disability in any programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. For information on these laws, please visit the Disability Discrimination section of the OCR website. Additional information on ADA is provided by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Civil Rights Data Collection is a biennial (i.e., every other school year) survey of public schools required by OCR since 1968.
The CRDC collects data on leading civil rights indicators related to access and barriers to educational opportunity at the early childhood through grade 12 levels.
The CRDC collects data from public local educational agencies (LEA) and schools, including juvenile justice facilities, charter schools, alternative schools, and schools serving only students with disabilities.
Data from the 2000, 2004, 2006, 2009-10, 2011-12, 2013-14, and 2015-16 CRDC surveys are available in the CRDC reporting tool at http://ocrdata.ed.gov.
Information about collecting and reporting data for the CRDC is available at 1-855-255-6901.
The U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces several federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from ED. These laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age. These laws extend to state education agencies, elementary and secondary school systems, colleges and universities, vocational schools, proprietary schools, state vocational rehabilitation agencies, libraries, and museums that receive ED funds. Complaints of discrimination on the basis of any of the referenced categories may be filed with OCR using the online complaint form, or by contacting the OCR enforcement office that serves your state.
Further, the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act prohibits public schools, school districts and state education agencies that provide an opportunity for outside youth or community groups to meet on school premises before or after school hours from denying equal access to the Boy Scouts of America or to other youth groups listed in Title 36 of the U.S. Code.
If you believe you have been discriminated against due to your religious preference, please contact the U.S. Department of Justice Educational Opportunities Section
The U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) publishes as a public service, this list of elementary-secondary and post-secondary institutions under investigation. The list is a snapshot of data on aspects of law that OCR enforces as it existed at a particular point in time (i.e., the last Friday of each month). It is not real-time data. OCR will replace the list with a new data snapshot on the first Wednesday of each month.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination based on disability in any program or activity operated by recipients of federal funds. Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on disability by public entities, regardless of whether they receive federal financial assistance.
Examples of the types of discrimination prohibited include inequitable access to educational programs and facilities, denial of a free appropriate public education for elementary and secondary students, and refusal to implement or inappropriate implementation of academic adjustments in higher education. A fuller list of Section 504 and Title II issues OCR addresses appears on the Disability Discrimination page. The regulations for Section 504 and Title II are enforced by OCR and appear in the Code of Federal Regulations here: Section 504 and Title II of the ADA.
Section 504 and Title II also prohibit employment discrimination; complainants may choose whether to pursue such complaints with OCR or with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Title VI is a federal law that prohibits any entity that receives federal financial assistance (such as grants or student loans) from discriminating on the basis of race, color, or national origin.
Discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin includes discrimination based on a person’s actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ethnicity, or ancestry. This includes discrimination based on the country, world region, or place where a person or his or her ancestors come from; a person’s limited English proficiency or English learner status; or a person’s actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, including membership in a religion that may be perceived to exhibit such characteristics (such as Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh individuals).
The U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) implements Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Title IX applies to institutions that receive federal financial assistance from ED, including state and local educational agencies.
The Child Care Access Means Parents in School program supports the participation of low-income parents in postsecondary education through the provision of campus-based child care services.
Ultimately, child care resources are available from the Office of Child Care within the Department of Health and Human Services who supports low-income working families through child care financial assistance and promotes children’s learning by improving the quality of early care and education and afterschool programs.
Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. These are children birth through age 2 who are experiencing developmental delays, or who have a diagnosed physical or mental condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay. They receive early intervention services through a statewide early intervention system. The state determines if children within that age range (0-2) who are at risk of having substantial developmental delays may be eligible to receive services.
The Office of Special Education Programs provides a “one-stop shop” for resources related to Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its implementing regulations. Part C is a program administered by your State; therefore you may wish to call your State Special Education Agency for further information.
The Office of Innovation and Early Learning administers discretionary grant programs that promote school readiness and improved learning outcomes for young children from low-income families who live in impoverished communities by providing high quality professional development programs to improve the knowledge and skills of early childhood educators and caregivers in communities with high concentrations of children living in poverty.
The Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities under the Office of Special Education Programs, ensures that appropriate early intervention services are made available to all eligible birth-through-2-year-olds with disabilities and their families, including Indian children and families who reside on reservations geographically located in the State.
The Office of Head Start (OHS) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) manages grant funding and oversees local agencies providing Head Start services. Head Start programs promote school readiness of children birth to five from low-income families by supporting their development in a comprehensive way. Head Start and Early Head Start programs offer a variety of service models, depending on the needs of the local community. Head Start is administered by the Office of Head Start at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). You are able to locate contact information for Head Start or Early Head Start programs with the HHS Head Start Locator.
The Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools. The program helps students meet state and local student standards in core academic subjects, such as reading and math; offers students a broad array of enrichment activities that can complement their regular academic programs; and offers literacy and other educational services to the families of participating children.
To locate other afterschool or summer programs in your area, please contact your local school district or visit youth.gov.
In general, policies for handling bullying are developed at the local and state level, as are policies on discipline, school safety and most other issues. For information on these policies and what assistance may be available to you, please contact your child’s school district or the state department of education. To determine if student bullying violates any anti-discrimination laws, which protects students against harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age, or to file a complaint of discrimination, contact our Office for Civil Rights. For more information you may visit stopbullying.gov
Generally, certificates of completion are used for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) who have not met state graduation requirements but still want to participate in graduation ceremonies with their class. Below are some important facts about certificates of completion:
Charter schools are nonsectarian public schools of choice that operate with freedom from many of the regulations that apply to traditional public schools. The “charter” establishing each such school is a performance contract detailing the school’s mission, program, goals, students served, methods of assessment, and ways to measure success. Charter schools are accountable to their sponsor— usually a state or local school board— to produce positive academic results and adhere to the charter contract. The basic concept of charter schools is that they exercise increased autonomy in return for this accountability. For the legal definition of a charter school in a particular state, consult your state’s charter school contact. The U.S. Department of Education offers grant opportunities, resources and information for charter schools.
You should address complaints to local or state officials. First address your public school complaint to the local school district and if necessary, to the state department of education.
Under legislation passed by Congress, all education institutions receiving Federal funding are required to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution, on September 17 of each year. If September 17 falls on a holiday or weekend, Constitution Day is to be commemorated the preceding or following week. To assist students and educators in their studies, the National Archives and Records Administration offers key resources, such as “The Constitution at Work,” a matching game connecting primary resources to constitutional articles, and “Exploring the U.S. Constitution,” an eBook that explores the roots of the three branches of government.  Likewise, free online resources are available from the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the U.S. Senate.
Policies on school discipline are decided mainly by your local school, school district, and state. Your first step is to contact your school district or state department of education.
The following resources provide information on school safety, order and related topics:
Some national professional or educational policy organizations have suggested standards and curricula, but there are no federal national standards for any academic area.  Education is mainly a state and local responsibility in the United States. When the U.S. Department of Education was created, Congress made clear that the secretary of education and other Department officials be prohibited from imposing “any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system.” (20 USC 3403).  It is left to the states to create standards while States and local agencies develop curricula. To determine specific standards or curricula in your State, please contact your state department of education.
Enrollment requirements and procedures are set by your state or your school district. For information on how to enroll your child in school, please contact your school district. Your local school district will also be able to give you information on the documents needed to complete the enrollment process, the school your child will attend, and the academic calendar. If you are having problems enrolling your child in school and your local school district cannot assist you, please contact your state department of education.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Nation’s education law and longstanding commitment to equal opportunity for all students. ESSA builds on key areas of progress in recent years, made possible by the efforts of educators, communities, parents, and students across the country.
You can view or download the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) or request a paper copy from the U.S. Government Publishing Office.
Title VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is intended to ensure that homeless children have equal access to a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The McKinney-Vento program is designed to address the problems that homeless children and youth face in enrolling, attending, and succeeding in school. Under this program, state educational agencies (SEAs) must ensure that each homeless child and youth has equal access to FAPE, including a public preschool education, as other children, and youth. To support the program, the Department provides formula grants to the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico based on each State’s share of Title I funds. Additional information is available on the Assistance for Homeless Children and Youth website and ED’s National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) Technical Assistance Center website.
The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) includes provisions and resources geared towards helping States support all student populations, including English Learners. The Department’s Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) provides leadership to help ensure that English Learners and immigrant students attain English proficiency and achieve academic success. The National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA) collects, analyzes, synthesizes and disseminates information about language instruction education programs for English language learners and related programs. Additionally, laws enforced by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) requires public schools to take steps to ensure that limited English proficient (LEP) students or English Language Learners (ELLs), can meaningfully participate in educational programs and services, and to communicate information to LEP parents in a language they can understand. OCR offers ELL Resources for students, parents, and education officials.
The Common Core of Data (CCD) is the Department of Education’s primary database on public elementary and secondary education in the United States. CCD is a comprehensive, annual, national database of all public elementary and secondary schools and school districts. You may wish to locate a public school here and a local school district here.
The mission of the Office of Migrant Education (OME) is to provide excellent leadership, technical assistance, and financial support to improve the educational opportunities and academic success of migrant children, youth, agricultural workers, fishers, and their families. The OME administers grant programs that provide academic and supportive services to the children of families who migrate to find work in the agricultural and fishing industries. The OME has identified the need for special initiatives in three programmatic areas of the Migrant Education Program (MEP) to help attain the goal of assisting migrant children to achieve challenging academic standards and graduate from high school.
The relationship between religion and government in the United States is governed by the First Amendment to the Constitution, which both prevents the government from establishing religion and protects privately initiated religious expression and activities from government interference and discrimination. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the First Amendment requires public school officials to be neutral in their treatment of religion, showing neither favoritism toward nor hostility against religious expression such as prayer. Accordingly, the First Amendment forbids religious activity that is sponsored by the government but protects religious activity that is initiated by private individuals. The Department has issued Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer and Religious Expression in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools for clarification.
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. The program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. Any child at a participating school may purchase a meal through the NSLP.
Education is primarily a state and local responsibility in the U.S. In creating the Department of Education, Congress made clear its intention that the secretary of education and other Department officials be prohibited from exercising “any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system.”
For this reason, with a few exceptions related to federal legislation, most questions or concerns about a school policy should be directed to the school district or state department of education. Questions about a teacher, a class, a grade, disciplinary action, or curriculum should all be addressed by the school, school district, or state.
Our Federal Student Aid (FSA) office can respond to your financial aid questions when you visit the StudentAid.gov Contact Us page and create a Case Reference ID.
You may also reach the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243. Monday–Friday: 8 a.m.–11 p.m. Eastern time (ET), Saturday-Sunday: 11 a.m.–5 p.m. ET or the Student Loan Support Center at 1-800-557-7394. Monday–Friday: 8 a.m.–11 p.m. Eastern time (ET).
To view answers to FSA frequently asked questions or to receive assistance from Federal Student Aid, please visit the StudentAid.gov Help Center.
You will need to contact your loan servicer directly to request your 1098-E. If you are unsure of who your loan servicer is, you may locate that information by logging in to your account on the Student Aid website, or by calling our Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243.
All states have college savings programs designed to meet the savings needs of their citizens, known also as Qualified Tuition Plans. These programs seek to make the savings options easier for the average families. There are two types of plans:
Both types of programs are considered “qualified state tuition programs” under the Internal Revenue Code Section 529 (26 U.S.C. 529). This allows earnings to be federally tax exempt beginning January 1, 2002. Most states exempt earnings from state income tax and some states allow families to deduct the full or a partial amount of their contribution from their state income taxes.
T>he Internal Revenue Service (IRS) defines eligible institutions as “any college, university, vocational school, or other post-secondary educational institution eligible to participate in a student aid program administered by the Department of Education,” including certain foreign institutions. Recent changes include tuition for elementary or secondary public, private, or religious schools. To determine eligibility for higher education institutions, please visit the Federal School Code Search page. Each qualified state tuition program operates under individual state laws, so programs may vary from state to state.
There are many “student loan relief” companies that for a fee offer to ‘assist you prepare forms’ to receive loan benefits or services like loan consolidation. These are services you can obtain yourself FOR FREE. These companies are not recognized, associated, nor sanctioned by the Department. So, they may assist their customers in dealing with the Department, but they do not work with or for, nor are part of the U.S. Department of Education. Please note there is only one federal loan consolidation program. Any federal student loan servicer will be able to help you apply for free. The government does not sanction debt relief firms, so it is not true when these businesses claim they have been approved by the government. Additionally, loan forgiveness is not available to everyone, and there are very specific requirements to obtain loan forgiveness. The Department does not charge you anything for applying or inquiring about forgiveness, consolidation, or repayment plans, but you must be eligible to receive them. Please be aware of companies that try to just offer you forgiveness without qualification and want to charge you for that. To determine your eligibility for any such program you may access your account or call 1-800-433-3243.
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) will provide up to $20,000 in debt relief to Federal Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 in debt relief to non-Pell Grant recipients. Borrowers with loans held by ED are eligible for this relief if their individual income is less than $125,000 (or $250,000 for households).
To ensure you receive updates from Federal Student Aid (FSA), Log in to your account on StudentAid.gov and make sure your contact info is up to date. FSA will send you updates by both email and text message, so make sure to sign up to receive text alerts. If it’s been a while since you’ve logged in, or you can’t remember if you have an account username and password (FSA ID), FSA offers tips to help you access your account. Once the online application form is live, support for the form will be available at 1-833-932-3439.
There are certain criteria that make you eligible for a closed school discharge, and there are certain steps you need to take to get a discharge. It will be important for you to obtain your academic and financial aid records if your school closes as you may need your academic records if you plan to attend another school and want to have your coursework at the closed school taken into consideration. Contact the state licensing agency in the state in which the school was located to ask whether the state made arrangements to keep the records. The records might also be useful in substantiating your claim for a loan discharge. You may be eligible for up to a 100% discharge of your Direct Loans, Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans, or Federal Perkins Loans under either of these circumstances:
Contact your loan servicer about the application process for getting your loan discharged.
If you defaulted on any of your federal student loans, contact the organization that notified you of the default as soon as possible so you can explain your situation fully and discuss your options.
One way to get out of default is to repay the defaulted loan in full, but that’s not a practical option for most borrowers. The two main ways to get out of default are loan rehabilitation and loan consolidation. While loan rehabilitation takes several months to complete, you can quickly apply for loan consolidation. However, loan rehabilitation provides certain benefits that are not available through loan consolidation. You can compare the benefits of loan rehabilitation versus the benefits of loan consolidation with this chart.
Find out who holds your loan by logging in to “My Federal Student Aid” or call the Default Resolution Group at: 1-800-621-3115.
Student loans may be discharged if you have a total and permanent disability. The U.S. Department of Education considers you to have a total and permanent disability if you are unable to work and earn money because of an injury or illness that is expected to continue indefinitely or result in death. Borrowers who wish to pursue this option must first submit a loan discharge application to the lender or agency holding the loan. For further guidance contact the Disability Discharge Loan Servicing Center at 1-888-303-7818.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs administers all education benefits under the GI Bill, these resources can be found at the
GI Bill website. The U.S. Department Education (ED) implements competitive grant programs that provide funding to colleges and nonprofit organizations to assist veterans in enrolling in and completing a program of postsecondary education. These programs provide a great opportunity for veterans to get personalized counseling and support to achieve success in higher education. Learn more about how to utilize these programs and connect with programs near you by reviewing our Programs Supporting Veterans section. Ultimately, you may also be eligible for Federal Student Aid by completing the FAFSA.
To apply for federal student aid, such as federal grants, work-study, and loans, you need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). Completing and submitting the FAFSA is free and easier than ever, and it gives you access to the largest source of financial aid to pay for college or career school.
In addition, many states and colleges use your FAFSA information to determine your eligibility for state and school aid, and some private financial aid providers may use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for their aid.
To obtain a hard copy of the FAFSA, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243. Additional resources on student financial assistance and scholarships are also available at https://studentaid.gov/resources.
To apply for federal grants or student loans to go to college, you will need to complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The U.S. Department of Education’s student financial assistance programs include:
The Federal Work-Study Program (FWS) provides funds for part-time employment to help needy students finance the costs of postsecondary education. Students may be employed by: the institution itself; a federal, state, or local public agency; a private nonprofit organization; or a private for-profit organization. In order to apply, students must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as part of the application process for FWS assistance. The FAFSA can be completed on the Web at https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa. Please note that FWS is a campus based program, and as such, it may not be available in all schools.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Feedback System allows constituents to file complaints concerning federal aid. If you are dissatisfied with your experience in the federal student aid process, you can submit a complaint, send us a suggestion, or report a suspicious activity or an alleged scam on behalf of yourself or someone else. If you believe the resolution of a prior complaint was in error or you disagree with the resolution, you can ask to file a dispute with the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group. You may call them at 1-877-557-7525.
First time applicants interested in participating in Federal Student Aid programs will find minimum eligibility requirements and other information at the initial applicant’s site. To apply, please visit the electronic version of the Application for Approval to Participate in the Federal Student Financial Aid Programs. The School Participation Division for Federal Student Aid provides information and assistance to schools interested in applying or updating their information. For further assistance on this matter, please contact the office that serves your state. To access guidance and policies for participating schools see Information for Financial Aid Professionals.
It is possible to have your student loan debt discharged (or canceled) or reduced, but only under certain specific circumstances, including death or permanent and total disability, school closure, working as a teacher in a low-income school or in a subject-shortage area, working in the public service sector, or in the case of Perkins Loans, working in certain other professions (law enforcement, nursing, etc.). To view charts of discharges by loan type as well as discharge applications, go to Forgiveness, Cancellation, and Discharge Charts. If you have a Federal Family Education Loan, contact the lender or agency that holds your loan. If you have a Federal Perkins Loan, contact the school that made you the loan. If you are unsure of what type of loan(s) you have outstanding, you can check your loan historyand find additional information on repaying your loans.
Please be aware that there are many companies posing as (or claiming to work for) the Department of Education offering loan forgiveness or discharge in exchange for payments to them. Only your loans servicers are recognized by the Department, no other companies, and their services are FREE. If you have been the victim of such companies, you may report them to the Federal Trade Commission.
The Federal Pell Grant Program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate and certain post baccalaureate students to promote access to postsecondary education. Students may use their grants at any one of approximately 5,400 participating post-secondary institutions. Grant amounts are dependent on: the student’s expected family contribution (EFC); the cost of attendance (as determined by the institution); the student’s enrollment status (full-time or part-time); and whether the student attends for a full academic year or less. If you are eligible, the amount you receive will depend not only on your financial need, but also on your costs to attend school, your status as a full-time or part-time student, and your plans to attend school for a full academic year or less. You can apply for student financial assistance, including the Pell Grant, by completing and submitting the FAFSA online. To obtain a hard copy of the FAFSA, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243.
Although you may select or be assigned a repayment plan when you first begin repaying your student loan, you can change repayment plans at any time—for free. Contact your loan servicer if you would like to discuss repayment plan options or change your repayment plan. You can get information about all of the federal student loans you have received and find the loan servicer for your loans by logging in to “My Federal Student Aid.” General information about repayment options can be found on the following webpage. https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/repayment/plans.
You can get information about all of the federal student loans and grants you have received and find the loan servicer for your loans by logging in to “My Federal Student Aid.” Please note that you will need to create an FSA ID in order to access your account. If you have questions about your account, contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-433-3243 or the Federal Student Loan Support Center at 1-800-557-7394.
You can find a list of grant programs by title and office here.
The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) is a publication and database produced by the General Services Administration that lists the domestic assistance programs of all federal agencies. All grant programs have a CFDA number, which indicates the sponsoring agency. All U.S. Department of Education grants begin with 84 followed by a period and three digits and, in some cases a letter (i.e. 84.XXX and/or 84.XXXA). You can search for grants by CFDA number in ED Programs.
The grants that are inviting applications for new awards are listed in our Forecast of Funding Opportunities. This document lists virtually all programs and competitions under which the Department has invited or expects to invite applications for new awards and provides actual or estimated deadline dates for the transmittal of applications under these programs. The lists are in the form of charts — organized according to the Department’s principal program offices — and include programs and competitions we have previously announced, as well as those we plan to announce at a later date.
You can find programs by eligibility and select one of the eligibility types (Individuals, Institutions of Higher Education, Local Education Agencies, Nonprofit Organizations, Other Organizations and/or Agencies and State Education Agencies) for a list of all ED programs for which that type of organization or individual is eligible to apply.
ED sponsors over 100 grant competitions each year, which are administered by program offices throughout the Department. Program offices recruit individuals from outside the federal government to serve as “field readers” or “peer reviewers.” These individuals have expertise in the subject area(s) of the applications being considered. If you are interested in being a peer reviewer for a particular office, please contact the principal office directly to inquire about upcoming opportunities. Keep an eye out for requests posted in the federal register or sign-up for email updates when we are seeking peer reviewers.
To report fraud, waste, abuse, misuse or mismanagement of ED program funds (this could include complaints concerning employees, fund recipients, educational institutions, contractors, collection agencies, or lending institutions); please use the online Hotline Complaint Form. Additionally, the Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) is available to further assist constituents suspecting fraud, waste, or abuse involving U.S. Department of Education funds. Complaints or concerns received through the Hotline are evaluated, consistent with established agency performance measures published in the OIG Annual Plan, and may be referred for OIG investigation, audit, inspection or other review. Please direct any related questions or concerns to the Department’s Office of the Inspector General by calling 1-800-647-8733.
In order to ensure a basic level of quality, the practice of accreditation arose in the United States as a means of conducting non-governmental, peer evaluation of educational institutions and programs. Private educational associations of regional or national scope have adopted criteria reflecting the qualities of a sound educational program and have developed procedures for evaluating institutions or programs to determine whether or not they are operating at basic levels of quality.
The U.S. Department of Education does not accredit institutions or programs. Accreditation is done by independent accrediting agencies; however, the Department maintains a list of accrediting agencies and accrediting bodies that it recognizes. You can find these lists of agencies on the following website: http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/index.html.
The Department has a website that provides access to a master list of accredited colleges, universities, and career and trade schools. The database lists approximately 6,900 postsecondary educational institutions and programs, each of which is accredited by an accrediting agency or state approval agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a reliable authority as to the quality of postsecondary education. To access the database, please visit https://ope.ed.gov/dapip/#/home.
Colleges and universities operate independently, although they have some state supervision. If you have complaints against a postsecondary institution contact the state department of higher education for help with resolving the complaint. For issues about financial aid, fraud, waste or abuse of federal funds, special education or civil rights contact the U.S. Department of Education. Listed below is contact information for these issues:
College Navigator is a database of over 7,000 institutions of higher education. You can search for a college based on its location, program, or degree offerings. You can also find out about colleges: their programs, costs, admissions, results, and more at https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/.  Additionally, the Information for Students section of the Office of Postsecondary Education’s website provides a variety of related resources for students considering college.
The Higher Education Opportunity Act (Public Law 110-315) (HEOA) was enacted on August 14, 2008, and reauthorizes the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA). Visit the legislation page to learn about new or revised regulations for institutions of higher education that receive funding from the Department.
The U.S. Secretary of Education publishes a list of Accrediting Agencies Recognized for Distance Education and Correspondence Education. The U.S. Department of Education does not accredit educational institutions or programs.  However, the Department provides oversight over the postsecondary accreditation system through its review of all federally recognized accrediting agencies. The Department holds accrediting agencies accountable by ensuring that they enforce their accreditation standards effectively.  For more information on accreditation and the full list of recognized accrediting agencies, please see Accreditation in the United States. To conduct a search to determine whether your online or distance education program is accredited, please visit https://ope.ed.gov/dapip/#/home.
NOTE: The recognition of accrediting agencies only applies to domestic postsecondary institutions (not high schools). To inquire about a high school’s accreditation, you must contact the state education agency where the school is located.
The Office of Postsecondary Education’s Campus Safety and Security website provides access to the security statistics of all institutions participating in the Federal Financial Aid program (Title IV), as well as those receiving Federal grant program funding from the Department. If you are thinking of attending college in a large urban city, a small liberal arts college, a specialized college, or a community college, you can find their security statistics here. The Campus Safety and Security Survey allows schools to enter in their updated security data each year.
The information you seek is available through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). IPEDS provides data on enrollments, program completions, faculty, staff, and finances. These data are made available to students and parents through the College Navigator college search web site and to researchers and others through the IPEDS Data Center. These data come from surveys of all institutions and educational organizations whose primary purpose is to provide postsecondary education. IPEDS is the core postsecondary education data collection program of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). NCES provides summaries of IPEDS data in the Digest of Education Statistics. Please note that some information may not be up to date, as this information is processed and analyzed after schools provide their reports.
Since October 15, 1981, the United States has been part of the 1961 Hague Convention abolishing the Requirement of Legalization for Foreign Public Documents (Only). The Convention provides for the simplified certification – the “apostille”- of public documents to be used in countries that have joined the convention.
Since the majority of education-related documents are executed and signed by state officials, in order to obtain the apostille you would need to contact the state department for the state where the documents were issued. General contact information for the Secretary of State for all states is available here.
Documents requiring certifications with an apostille by the U.S. Department of State (federal agency) are those that have been signed by a federal official with the official seal of that agency, American Consular Officer, Military Notary (10 USC 1044a) or Foreign Consul (Diplomat Officials must be registered with the Office of Protocol).
The U.S. Department of State issues both Authentication Certificates and Apostilles. The determination of which certificate is issued is based on the country in which the document will be used. Authentication Certificates are issued for documents which are destined for use in countries that are not parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. Apostille Certificates are issued for documents destined for use in countries that are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. For more information visit the Office of Authentications.
Unlike in many countries, the United States has no Federal Ministry of Education or other centralized authority exercising single national control over postsecondary educational institutions in this country. The states assume varying degrees of control over education, but, in general, institutions of higher education are permitted to operate with considerable independence and autonomy. U.S. colleges and universities can vary widely in their admissions policies and requirements. Therefore, you should contact the institution(s) you are interested in attending for more information about admissions requirements.  The institution(s) can also provide information about policies concerning the evaluation of non-U.S. credentials.
For visa requirements, you must visit your local U.S. Embassy or consult the U.S. Department of State website. If you are in the United States, you may contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Please note that the U.S. Department of Education does not oversee or influence the issuance of visas.
In the United States, the ultimate decision to recognize or accept an education credential rests with (1) individual employers (for those seeking employment); (2) state-level licensing agencies (for those seeking professional licensure); (3) universities (for those seeking to continue their studies); and (4) federal immigration authorities (for those seeking a visa or a change in immigration status).
With regard to the evaluation of non-U.S. credentials, employers and other entities will often request that an applicant obtain a “credential evaluation” to determine how one’s non-U.S. credentials compare to U.S. credentials. Such evaluations are carried out by private, non-governmental entities called “credential evaluation services,” which charge a fee that varies depending on the level of detail needed. The U.S. Department of Education does not evaluate education credentials.
Before selecting a credential evaluation service, consult with the prospective recipient of the evaluation (e.g., employer, university admissions office) to find out if there are specific policies in place concerning the evaluation of non-U.S. credentials. If you do not have a specific recipient in mind, you can research online to identify and select a credential evaluation service on your own. Additional resources and information can be found at U.S. Network for Education Information. (There is no federal or state regulation of credential evaluation services, and the U.S. Department of Education does not endorse or recommend any individual credential evaluation service or any individual association of credential evaluation services.)
There are approximately 500 foreign post-secondary institutions that are eligible to participate in the Federal Student Aid Program. If you attend one of these institutions, you would be eligible to apply for a student loan through this program. To search for an eligible institution, visit our Federal School Code Search page. Once on this site, select the latest year and “Search.” On the next page you may either select “foreign schools” in the state field and get a full listing of overseas schools, or search for a specific school using the institution’s name. Additional information about studying abroad is also available at https://studyabroad.state.gov/.
For general information about studying abroad, as well as links to relevant organizations, see the 
U.S. Department of State’s USA Study Abroad website.
For general information about studying in the United States, as well as links to other relevant organizations, see the U.S. Department of State’s EducationUSA website  and the  U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Study in the States website.
In the U.S., each state determines the requirements for licensing and certifying teachers in that state. Individual schools and school districts, not the U.S. Department of Education, are responsible for the hiring of teachers.
For more information about licensure requirements in any state that may interest you, contact the state department of education.  The state’s department of education can also provide information about its policy for evaluating and recognizing non-U.S. education qualifications.
The U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security oversee all visa requirements for students from other countries coming to the United States. Information and assistance is available from the following sources:
Foreign students in the U.S. with questions about their visas, and schools with questions about student visas, should contact 1-800-375-5283 or visit United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for more information.
The U.S. Department of Education does not regulate or provide financial support for home schooling elementary and secondary students. Regulation of home schooling, including curriculum requirements, is a State and local responsibility.
Some federal education programs can serve home schooled students if they are regarded as private school students by their State. This is entirely dependent on each State’s policies and definitions. These federal education programs would be the same programs that serve private school students as authorized by federal laws.
To read more about the participation of private schools in federal education programs, visit the Office of Non-Public Education’s page.
The Office of Non-Public Education (ONPE) fosters maximum participation of non-public school students and teachers in federal education programs and initiatives. Since the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was passed in 1965, private school students and teachers have been eligible to participate in certain federal education programs. ONPE’s activities reflect this mission and direction by:
For more information see Frequently Asked Questions Related to Nonpublic Schools
The U.S. Department of Education does not approve, recognize or accredit any schools or their programs. The extent of the Department’s involvement in the accreditation process is to recognize various accrediting agencies for postsecondary (college) education only. Your State Department of Education can provide options for obtaining a high school diploma and assist in determining on-line high school programs that are approved by the State.
The Private School Survey produces data on private schools in the U.S. With increasing concern about alternatives in education, the interest and need for data on private education has also increased. NCES has made the collection of data on private elementary and secondary schools a priority. You may access this data here.
Unless specifically stated otherwise, all information on the U.S. Department of Education’s (Department) website at www.ed.gov is in the public domain, and may be reproduced, published or otherwise used without the Department’s permission. This statement does not pertain to information at web sites other than www.ed.gov, whether funded by the Department or not. You can view our Website Policies and Important Links online.
Some photographs in www.ed.gov’s major banners and navigation headings are commercially licensed and cannot be reproduced, published or otherwise used.
The U.S. Department of Education’s (Department) website (http://www.ed.gov) was launched March 1994. More information on the Department’s early internet presence can be found here.
You can order publications and products from the ED Pubs website. Other publications and resources related to financial aid for college or career school can be found at www.StudentAid.gov/resources.
If you have questions or issues regarding ED Pubs materials, you may contact the ED Pubs Call Center by phone at 1-877-433-7827 or by email at [email protected].
Unless specifically stated otherwise, all publications issued by the U.S. Department of Education (Department) and all information available on the Department’s website are in the public domain. These publications and information may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes without prior consent (with attribution to the U.S. Department of Education or the appropriate source). For further guidance read our Copyright Status Notice.
Established in 1982, the National Blue Ribbon Schools (NBRS) Program recognizes public and non-public elementary, middle, and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. The Department invites National Blue Ribbon School nominations from the top education official in all States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity and the Bureau of Indian Education. Private schools are nominated by the Council for American Private Education (CAPE).
All schools, representing the full diversity of American schools, including charter schools, magnet/choice schools, Title I schools, parochial, and independent schools are eligible in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores and graduation rates:
The program also honors a handful of awardee principals with the Terrel H. Bell Award for Outstanding School Leadership. A list of current and past awardees including recent awardee applications, school profiles, and excerpts from applications on promising practices can be found at NBRS Program website. Please contact the NBRS Program directly if you have any additional questions.
Founded in 1983, the President’s Education Awards Program (PEAP) honors graduating elementary, middle and high school students for their achievement and hard work. The program has provided individual recognition from the President and the U.S. Secretary of Education to those students whose outstanding efforts have enabled them to meet challenging standards of excellence. Each year, thousands of elementary, middle, and high schools participate by recognizing deserving students.
Please note school principals play a leading role and have sole discretion in choosing recipients, not employees at the U.S. Department of Education. Program guidelines, criteria and ordering information are available at http://www.peap-aca.org. We recommend reviewing the PEAP FAQs or contacting the PEAP office directly for further guidance.
The Recognizing Inspiring School Employees (RISE) Award recognizes and promotes the commitment and excellence exhibited by full or part-time classified school employees (public and non-public) who provide exemplary service to students in pre-kindergarten through high school.
The U.S. Department of Education (Department) invites the governor of each State and the chief executive of the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Outlying Areas to nominate up to two classified school employees by November 1 annually. Governors must document nominees’ performance in the following areas: (A) Work performance; (B) School and community involvement; (C) Leadership and commitment; (D) Local support (from co-workers, school administrators, community members, etc., who speak to the nominee’s exemplary work); (E) Enhancement of classified school employees’ image in the community and schools.
The Secretary of Education will select a single classified school employee to receive the RISE Award for that school year by the following spring. The Department will communicate the selectee’s story in order to inspire other innovative practices and excellence among classified school employees.
For information on being nominated by your State, contact your governor’s office. You may also review our RISE FAQs.
Since it was created in 2011, the aim of the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS) recognition award is to inspire schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions to strive for 21st century excellence by highlighting promising sustainable practices and resources that all can employ. To that end, the award recognizes schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions that:
Schools, districts, and postsecondary institutions apply to their state education authorities for nomination to the U.S. Department of Education. Therefore, we recommend contacting your State Education Agency or postsecondary authority if you are interested in applying to be nominated by your State for the ED-GRS award. Additional resources and webinars can be found on the Green Strides website.
Established in 1964, via an executive order by the President, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program recognizes and honors some of our nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors. In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative, and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields. Each year, up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the Nation’s highest honors for high school students.
Application is by invitation only; therefore, students may not apply individually to the Program, nor may their schools nominate them. U.S. Presidential Scholars are guests of the Commission during National Recognition Weekend and enjoy an expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. to meet with government officials, educators, authors, musicians, scientists, and other accomplished individuals. Scholar and Teacher Awardee lists by year can be found on the awards page and for further information concerning this program, please visit the program’s FAQ page.
ED Data Express consolidates relevant data collected by the Department from several different sources and provides a variety of tools that allow users to explore the data and create individualized reports. More research, evaluation and statistics are available at our Research and Statistics page. This page contains links to:
The primary purpose of the Fast Facts website is to provide users with concise information on a range of educational issues, from early childhood to adult learning. Fast Facts draw from various published sources and are updated as new data become available.
The NCES Kids’ Zone provides information to help you learn about schools; decide on a college; find a public library; engage in several games, quizzes and skill building about math, probability, graphing, and mathematicians; and to learn many interesting facts about education.
Higher education data is housed primarily in the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). IPEDS provides data on enrollments, program completions, faculty, staff, and finances. These data come from surveys of all institutions and educational organizations whose primary purpose is to provide postsecondary education. IPEDS is the core postsecondary education data collection program of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). NCES provides summaries of IPEDS data in the Digest of Education Statistics. Please note that some information may not be up to date, as this information is processed and analyzed after schools provide their reports.
The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) reviews the existing research on different programs, products, practices, and policies in education. Their goal is to provide educators with the information they need to make evidence-based decisions. They focus on the results from high-quality research to answer the question “What works in education?”
The IDEA Data Center provides the most recent data about children with disabilities served under IDEA. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs in accordance with Section 618 of IDEA collects this data annually. This data is provided in the form of tables produced for the annual reports to Congress.
The U.S. Department of Education does not rank schools or school districts. State-by-state information on academic achievement and other topics can be found at:
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) aims to ensure that all children receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) and special services to assist in meeting their educational needs. Under Part B of IDEA, each state and its public agencies must ensure that FAPE is made available to all students with specified disabilities in mandated age ranges, and that the rights and protections of Part B are extended to eligible students and their parents. FAPE includes, among other elements, the provision of special education and related services provided at no cost to parents, in conformity with an individualized education program (IEP). Additional information and assistance can be found at the Center for Parent Information & Resources and the State Department of Special Education.
All states have assistive technology programs to support consumer-driven, statewide, technology-related assistance for individuals of all ages with disabilities. These programs are largely funded by the U.S. Department of Education, under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998. For more information visit the Center for Parent Information & Resources.
Educational programs for children with disabilities and for infants and toddlers and their families are supported through grants to states under Parts B and C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) monitors those programs to make sure they are administered in ways that are consistent with federal requirements. In addition, OSEP has designated customer service specialists and state contacts for each state. The staff helps people understand IDEA requirements and access appropriate dispute resolution mechanisms. If you need assistance, please contact the OSEP customer service specialist or state contact assigned to your state.
If you find that your child does not qualify for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), then you should inquire about services under Section 504. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) is designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal funds from the U.S. Department of Education. Section 504 requires a school district to provide a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district’s jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Your child does not have to qualify under IDEA in order to qualify for FAPE under Section 504. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights enforces Section 504 in programs and activities that receive federal education funds. For more information, visit Protecting Students with Disabilities.
Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) gives eligible children with disabilities ages 3 through 21 (upper age limit varies depending on state law) the right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE). According to the regulations, a child qualifies for special education and related services under IDEA if a team of professionals evaluates the child and determines that:
The evaluation must consider all areas related to the suspected disability; it also must use a variety of assessment tools and strategies. Within 30 days of concluding that your child qualifies for services, the school district must hold a meeting to create an individualized education program (IEP) for your child.
To have your child tested, contact your child’s teacher, the principal of the school, or the local or state director for special education.
Additional resources:
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law that makes available a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children. The IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. You can search the statute and regulations here.
The cornerstone of the IDEA is the entitlement of each eligible child with a disability to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet the child’s unique needs and that prepare the child for further education, employment, and independent living. 20 U.S.C. §1400(d) (1) (A). Under the IDEA, the primary vehicle for providing FAPE is through an appropriately developed Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that is based on the individual needs of the child. An IEP must take into account a child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, and the impact of that child’s disability on his or her involvement and progress in the general education curriculum. IEP goals must be aligned with grade-level content standards for all children with disabilities. The child’s IEP must be developed, reviewed, and revised in accordance with the requirements outlined in the IDEA [34 CFR 300.320 through §300.324]. To obtain guidance and resources visit: https://sites.ed.gov/idea/topic-areas/.
The U.S. Department of Education (Department) provides grants to designated state agencies to operate a program of vocational rehabilitation (VR) in each state and territory. There is federal guidance over all the state programs, but states also have the authority to design their own programs within those guidelines.
The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) is the Department office responsible for overseeing this program. The designated state VR agencies assist individuals with disabilities in securing gainful employment depending on their abilities, capabilities, and informed choice. The state VR agencies also provide training, assistive technology, and transportation. Individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are presumed to be eligible for VR services leading to employment, unless there is clear and convincing evidence that they are too significantly disabled to benefit from VR services.
Although the RSA administers the VR program in each state, its authority to intervene in individual cases is limited. However, one of its primary roles is to ensure that individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to exercise their rights to due process when they believe their rights have been violated. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Act), as amended, establishes an appeals process for individuals who are dissatisfied with the services that VR is or is not providing. The Act gives individuals the right to pursue mediation as a means of resolving the complaint against the agency. The Act also establishes a formal hearing process and a judicial review process for individuals. You may utilize any or all of these methods of appeal in order to resolve your concerns.
The Act also establishes the Client Assistance Program (CAP) to provide assistance and advocacy. CAP services help clients or client applicants pursue concerns they have with programs funded under the Rehabilitation Act. Please contact your state’s CAP or your appropriate state liaison within RSA.
For additional information, please visit the RSA website. To apply for benefits, or for more information about the services in your area, please contact your state VR agency.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Student Privacy Policy Office (SPPO) is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). FERPA is a federal law that gives parents the right to have access to their children’s education records, the right to seek to have the records amended, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of personally identifiable information from the education records. When a student turns 18 years old, or enters a postsecondary institution at any age, the rights under FERPA transfer from the parents to the student.
Contact the school district where you attended high school or your state department of education. If you attended a non-public school, you will want to contact the school directly. Please note that the U.S. Department of Education does not maintain transcript records of any school.
Congress has passed two major pieces of legislation that generally require local educational agencies (LEAs) receiving assistance under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) to give military recruiters the same access to secondary school students as they provide to postsecondary institutions or to prospective employers. LEAs are also generally required to provide students’ names, addresses, and telephone listings to military recruiters, when requested.
The information is used specifically for armed services recruiting purposes and to inform young people of scholarship opportunities. Schools are required to provide notice to parents, allowing them an opportunity to opt out of providing the information to recruiters. For more information view FAQs and Guidance at: Student Privacy Policy Office (SPPO).
The Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) is a federal law that affords certain rights to parents of minor students with regard to surveys that ask questions of a personal nature. Briefly, the law requires that schools obtain written consent from parents before minor students are required to participate in any U.S. Department of Education funded survey, analysis, or evaluation that reveals information concerning the following areas:
When schools close, the generally accepted practice is for the school to make arrangements with the state-licensing agency to store their records. If you are trying to find your academic records from a closed school, you should contact the state licensing agency in the state in which the school was located to ask whether the state made arrangements to store the records. Information about financial aid and closed schools is also available.
The requirements for teacher certification and licensing are determined by state departments of education. Licensing is the process by which a government agency grants a license to an individual who has met certain requirements. Certification is the process by which an individual with certain qualifications is recognized. For information on the requirements for obtaining a license and certification, please contact the state department of education in the state where you wish to teach.
If you have credentials from overseas, you may need to seek credential evaluation services to become certified as a teacher in the U.S. Degree, diploma, and credit recognition are not performed or regulated by the federal government. Recognition is not usually done by state or local governments either. In many cases this work is delegated to private credential evaluation services and the resulting evaluations are recognized as valid. For more information on this topic, please see the foreign qualifications page.
Currently, there is no certification program that is accepted in all states. Some states offer reciprocity for certifications obtained in other states. Contact your state department of education to ask about reciprocity.
If you are a teacher serving in a low-income or subject-matter shortage area, it might be possible for you to cancel or defer a portion of your federal student loans. Eligibility requirements are determined by the type of loan(s) the teacher has out:
Cancellation for Perkins Loans: If you have a loan from the Federal Perkins Loan Program, you may be eligible for loan cancellation for full-time teaching at a low-income school or in certain subject areas.
Cancellation for Stafford Loans: If you received a Stafford loan on or after October 1, 1998, and have taught full-time for five years in a low-income school, you may be eligible to have a portion of the loan cancelled. This applies to FFEL Stafford Loans, Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, and, in some cases, Consolidation Loans. Eligible teachers apply for Perkins loan forgiveness from the office that administers the Perkins loan program at the college or university that holds his or her loan, and for Stafford loan forgiveness through the lender or servicer of his or her loan. More information is available at Student Aid on the Web. You may also be eligible for the Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
The Troops-to-Teachers program provides assistance, including stipends of up to $5,000 or bonuses of $10,000, to eligible members of the armed forces so that they can obtain certification or licensing as elementary school teachers, secondary school teachers, or vocational/technical teachers and become highly qualified teachers in high-need local education agencies (LEAs). In addition, the program helps these individuals find employment in high-need LEAs or charter schools.
Members of the armed forces who wish to receive the program’s assistance for placement as an elementary or secondary school teacher must have a baccalaureate or advanced degree, and their last period of service in the armed forces must have been honorable. In selecting members of the armed forces to participate in the program, the Department of Defense must give priority to those members who have educational or military experience in science, mathematics, special education, or vocational/technical subjects and who agree to seek employment as teachers in high-need LEAs in a subject area compatible with their educational backgrounds.
To apply for this program, visit the Troops-to-Teachers website. The program is administered by the Department of Defense’s Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES).
The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) supports teachers, principals, school leaders, and other educators as they help to launch the problem-solvers and innovators of the future. OESE supports State and local efforts to implement evidence-based teacher development programs, enhance professional development for new teachers, and encourage alternative routes to teaching certification through grants to states, local education agencies (LEAs), institutes for higher education (IHEs), or other organizations.
Our mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.

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