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  • Bumphus, Eddinger to serve on DOL apprenticeships advisory panel
  • ED’s understaffed student aid office results in delays, work backlog

Bumphus, Eddinger to serve on DOL apprenticeship advisory panel

Walter Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges, and Pam Eddinger, president of Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, were appointed Monday by U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh to serve on a reinstated apprenticeship advisory committee. Eddinger will chair the 29-member committee.

Members of the Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship serve two-year terms, representing employers, labor management organizations, community colleges and other institutions. The group will advise the labor secretary on ways to promote greater awareness on the benefits of registered apprenticeship, increase their alignment with workforce and education systems, expand registered apprenticeships into new industries and occupations, and expand equity for under-represented populations.

“The Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship represents the combined expertise of leaders across industry and the workforce sector. They will use their collective voices to inspire innovative apprenticeship and training strategies to boost our economy and build an equitable workforce,” Walsh said in a press release. “The advisory committee’s members will work to generate expansion opportunities for Registered Apprenticeship and to guide efforts to deliver a system that is accessible to all, including black and brown Americans, immigrants, and women.”

ED’s understaffed student aid office results in delays, work backlog

The U.S. Education Department’s Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) has over the years been understaffed in many of its operational and mission support areas, with staff consequently not completing almost 20% of FSA’s workload in fiscal year 2020, according to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Offfice (GAO).

According to review, which was sent to Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Virginia), chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, staffing shortages have led to backlogs and reduced work quality. For example, information technology projects were delayed, some contracting activities were late and some student aid fraud investigations were delayed, GAO said. It found that despite changes to federal student aid programs and FSA’s increased workload since fiscal year 2010, staffing remained relatively flat from fiscal years 2010 through 2019 and actually dropped in fiscal year 2019, the same year FSA began a student aid delivery modernization project.

In response to the report, department officials said the agency is making some progress. It is implementing plans to begin to incorporate information from the workforce assessment into its staffing process and plans to update each office’s staffing requirements annually. It has resulted in an increase in FSA hires in 2020.

FSA oversees loan servicer contracts and manages grant and campus-based aid programs. It also helps the office fulfill its enforcement responsibilities, and monitors and certifies the financial health of approximately 5,600 colleges that participate in federal student aid programs, among other responsibilities. In 2020, FSA awarded more than $115 billion in grants, work-study funds and loans to approximately 11 million students.

About the Author

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