Reporter’s notebook

Photo: Matthew Dembicki
  • Cardona at House appropriations hearing
  • New student aid chief at ED
  • Broadband discount for low-income families
  • New ED clearinghouse for re-opening campuses

Cardona at House appropriations hearing

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona pitches the Biden administration’s fiscal year 2022 budget proposal for education before House appropriators on Wednesday. The wish list includes increases for community colleges and Pell Grant awards.

New student aid chief at ED

The U.S. Education Department (ED) on Monday announced Richard Cordray as chief operating officer of federal student aid. Cordray is the former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which under Cordray’s leadership tackled some high-profile student lending cases, including a lawsuit against the now-defunct for-profit Corinthian Colleges.

Cordray is also a former attorney general of Ohio, served as a state representative and was the state’s first solicitor general.

Broadband discount for low-income families

The Federal Communications Commission has released its guidance for a new program that aims to help low-income households get access to affordable broadband. The enrollment period opens May 12.

The Emergency Broadband Benefit Program will provide eligible households with discounts of up to $50 a month for broadband service, and up to $75 a month if the household is on tribal lands. It also will provide a one-time discount of up to $100 on a computer or tablet for eligible households.

Individuals may qualify for the program in several different ways, but most importantly for community colleges, anyone who received a Pell Grant in the current award year is eligible.

New ED clearinghouse for re-opening campuses

ED has launched a clearinghouse to share best practices for re-opening campuses and sharing information.

“By launching the Clearinghouse, ED aims to collect and disseminate innovative, evidence-based, or solutions-oriented approaches to school reopening and make this information available to elementary and secondary schools, early childhood centers, and postsecondary institutions across the country so they can learn from each other,” the department said in a press release.

Resources from ED and other federal agencies related to reopening strategies and guidance are also available on the website.

Among the highlighted best practices is Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in Salisbury, North Carolina, which developed a resource webpage that includes:

  • Return to campus information and college updates for students
  • An FAQ on coronavirus and illness-related questions
  • Information on scholarship programs
  • Local emergency rental assistance programs
  • Vaccination appointment information
  • Expectations and requirements for students, faculty and staff to maintain safe in-person learning on campus, including regular health screenings and social distancing
  • Information for students on community resources, including local food pantry locations and hours of operation

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.