FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions
FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions
Respuestas en español | Education Resources (Brochure) [PDF, 1.5 MB]
About the U.S. Department of Education (ED)
Can you provide information on the ED budget?
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.
Business and Contracts with ED
How can I conduct business with ED?
Contracts and 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.
Contact Us & General Inquiries
How do I contact the Department to ask a question or file a complaint?
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 Federal Student Aid 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 Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or one of our many other social media channels.
Who has been appointed to serve as U.S. Secretary of Education?
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)
How do I seek employment with ED?
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.
Family and Community Engagement
How does the Department engage parents and families?
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. You may wish to access Statewide Family Engagement Centers, resources for parents and families and join our Family Engagement Learning Series.
Federal Register Notices
How do I comment on a federal register notice submitted by the Department?
Regulations.gov is where all comments to federal register notices must be made. You may also access a full list of the Department's most recent federal register notices.
History and Mission
When was ED established and what is its mission?
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:
- Strengthen the Federal commitment to ensuring access to equal educational opportunity for every individual;
- Supplement and complement the efforts of states, the local school systems and other instrumentalities of the states, the private sector, public and private nonprofit educational research institutions, community-based organizations, parents, and students to improve the quality of education;
- Encourage the increased involvement of the public, parents, and students in Federal education programs;
- Promote improvements in the quality and usefulness of education through Federally supported research, evaluation, and sharing of information;
- Improve the coordination of Federal education programs;
- Improve the management of Federal education activities; and
- Increase the accountability of Federal education programs to the President, the Congress, and the public.
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.
How do I apply for an internship with the Department?
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.
School Ambassador Fellowship
What is the School Ambassador Fellowship Program?
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.
Career, Technical, and Adult Education
Adult Education Funding
What funding and resources does the Department offer for professional adults?
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.
How can I find an adult literacy program in my area?
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.
Are there assistance programs for adults to develop work skills?
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.
High School Equivalency
Can I take an exam to receive a diploma or certificate?
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.
Where can I find an adult English-language learner program near me?
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).
Professional and Occupational Licensing
How do I obtain my professional or occupational license (nursing, social work, accountant, contractor etc.)?
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.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Does the ADA apply to schools and colleges?
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.
Civil Rights Data Collection
What is the Civil Rights Data Collection?
The Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) is a biennial (i.e., every other school year) survey of public schools required by the Office for Civil Rights (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, 2015-16 and 2017-18 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.
File a Discrimination Complaint
How do I file a complaint of discrimination?
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.
If you believe you have been discriminated against due to your religious preference, please contact the U.S. Department of Justice Educational Opportunities Section.
Where can I view pending civil rights investigations?
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.
What is Section 504?
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.
What is Title VI?
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.
What does "race, color, or national origin" mean within the context of Title VI?
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 shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics.
What is Title IX?
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.
Early Childhood Education
Child Care Resources
Does the Department provide child care resources?
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 childcare services.
Ultimately, childcare resources are available from the Office of Child Care within the Department of Health and Human Services who supports low-income working families through childcare financial assistance and promotes children's learning by improving the quality of early care and education and afterschool programs.
Early Intervention Services
How do I know if my infant or toddler is eligible for early intervention services?
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 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.
Early Learning Programs
What early learning programs does the Department offer for school readiness?
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 Native Indian children and families who reside on reservations geographically located in the State.
Head Start Services
How can I locate a Head Start program?
The Office of Head Start (OHS) is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the OHS 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. You can locate contact information for Head Start or Early Head Start programs with the HHS Head Start Locator.
Elementary and Secondary Education
How do I find a quality after school program for my child?
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.
My child is being bullied in school. How can you help?
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
Certificate of Completion
What is a certificate of completion?
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:
- A certificate of completion, or its equivalent, is not an academic credential, but certifies attendance in high school.
- They cannot be used as a prerequisite for admission to a postsecondary institution, or any other program that requires a high school degree.
- Recipients of certificates are not prevented from returning to receive a full diploma or high school equivalency degree.
- Information about state graduation requirements and certificate policies can be found by contacting your state department of education.
What are Charter Schools?
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.
Complaint Against a School
How do I file a complaint against a school?
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.
What is Constitution Day and what are schools required to do on this day?
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.
Discipline and Safety
I am concerned about discipline and safety in our schools. Where can I get information and assistance?
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:
- The Office of Safe and Supportive Schools (OSSS) addresses; the health and well-being of students as well as school safety, security, and emergency management and preparedness. OSSS administers, coordinates, and recommends policy as well as administers grant programs and technical assistance centers addressing the overall safety and health of the school community.
- The Readiness and Emergency Management (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center supports schools, school districts, and institutions of higher education (IHEs), by providing a hub of information, resources, training, and services in the field of school and higher education emergency operations planning.
- The National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE) offers information and technical assistance to states, districts, schools, institutions of higher learning, and communities focused on improving school climate and conditions for learning.
Education Standards and Curriculum
How can I find out about national education standards and curricula?
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 in K-12
How do I enroll my child in school?
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.
Every Student Succeeds Act
What is the Every Student Succeeds Act and how can I get a copy of the law?
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.
What rights do homeless children have to a public education?
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.
Limited English Proficiency
My child's first language is not English. What kind of bilingual or English as a Second Language programs are available? How does the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) help my child?
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.
Locating a School or District
How do I locate a school or district?
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 access their database to locate a public school and a local school district.
Migrant Education Programs
What programs are available for children of migrant families?
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.
Religion in Public Schools
What is the role of religion and prayer in the public schools?
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.
School Lunch Program
What is the school lunch program, and how do children qualify for it?
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.
I am concerned about a school policy or its implementation. Can you help?
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.
Federal Student Aid
Contact Federal Student Aid
How do I contact the Department’s Federal Student Aid Office to ask a question or file a complaint?
Our Federal Student Aid (FSA) office can respond to your financial aid questions when you visit the StudentAid.gov Contact Us page and select one of the appropriate contact centers and then select 'Email.' You may also reach FSA 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.
To view answers to FSA frequently asked questions or to receive assistance from FSA, please visit the StudentAid.gov Help Center.
1098-E Interest Statement
How can I obtain my 1098-E interest statement?
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 Federal Student Aid at 1-800-433-3243.
What are 529 plans?
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:
- Prepaid Tuition: Parents, grandparents, and other interested parties may lock in today's tuition rates, and the program will pay out future college tuition at any of the state's eligible colleges or universities (or an equal payment to private and out-of-state institutions).
- 529 Savings Plans: Savings plans allow participants to save money in a special college savings account on behalf of a designated beneficiary's qualified higher education expenses.
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.
The 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.
I was contacted by a company that says they work with you, and that I may be eligible for loan forgiveness, is this true?
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 Federal Trade Commission has a free educational website — Consumer.gov to help people avoid scams, manage your money, use credit and loans carefully, and protect your personal information.
Biden-Harris Debt Relief Plan
How do I apply for the one-time student loan cancellation?
Student Loan Debt Relief is blocked. Courts have issued orders blocking our student debt relief program. As a result, at this time, we are not accepting applications. We are seeking to overturn those orders. If you've already applied, we'll hold your application. Subscribe and check back here for updates or reach our contact center agents at 1-833-932-3439. We will post information as soon as further updates are available.
Can I get my loan discharged if my school closed?
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:
- Your school closes while you're enrolled, and you do not complete your program because of the closure. If you were on an approved leave of absence, you are considered to have been enrolled at the school.
- Your school closes within 120 days after you withdraw.
- You are not eligible for discharge of your loans if your school closes and any of the following is true:
- You withdraw more than 120 days before the school closes.
- You are completing a comparable educational program at another school through a teach-out agreement with the school,
- by transferring academic credits or hours earned at the closed school to another school,
- or by any other comparable means.
- You have completed all the coursework for the program, even if you have not received a diploma or certificate.
Contact your loan servicer about the application process for getting your loan discharged.
Defaulted Student Loans
What are my options to get out of default?
If you defaulted on any of your federal student loans, contact the U.S. Department of Education's Default Resolution Group at 1-800-621-3115 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 into your Federal Student Aid account.
Fresh Start Program
What is the Fresh Start Program?
On April 6, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced an initiative called "Fresh Start" to help eligible borrowers in default. Fresh Start will continue through one year after the COVID-19 payment pause ends. If your loans are eligible, you'll temporarily regain several student aid benefits. You'll also get the opportunity to get out of default and keep those benefits for the long term. If you're not sure whether your loans qualify, you can call the Default Resolution Group at 1-800-621-3115.
How do I get my loan cancelled due to disability?
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.
Education Benefits for Veterans
How can I find out about educational benefits under the GI Bill for veterans and their dependents?
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 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).
How do I apply for Federal funding?
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 Federal Student Aid at 1-800-433-3243. You may also access additional resources on student financial assistance and scholarships.
Federal Grants and Loans to Attend College
How do I apply for federal grants and loans from the Department?
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:
- Federal Work Study Program
- Direct Subsidized Loans
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans
- Direct Plus Loans
- Direct Consolidation Loans
Federal Work Study
What is Federal Work Study?
The Federal Work-Study Program (FWS) provides funds for part-time employment to help needy students finance the cost 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. To apply, students must file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) as part of the application process for FWS assistance. Please note that FWS is a campus-based program, and as such, it may not be available in all schools.
File a Complaint with FSA
How can I file a complaint related to Federal Student Aid?
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 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.
FSA School Participation
How can my higher education institution offer federal financial aid?
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 visit the Knowledge Center.
Loan Forgiveness Eligibility
Can I have my loans forgiven?
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 history and find additional information on repaying your loans.
- Loan Forgiveness for Public Service Employees is offered through the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007.
- Medical Professionals may also be eligible for loan forgiveness through the National Health Service Corps.
- Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offers registered nurses substantial assistance to repay educational loans in exchange for service in critical shortage facilities.
Please be aware that there are many companies posing as (or claiming to work for) the U.S. Department of Education offering loan forgiveness or discharge in exchange for payments to them. Only your loan 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.
How can I get a Pell grant for school?
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 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). To obtain a hard copy of the FAFSA, call Federal Student Aid at 1-800-433-3243.
Can I change my repayment plan?
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.
Student Loan Account Access
Where can I view my federal student loan and grant history, and find out where to make my loan payment?
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 your Federal Student Aid account. 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 Federal Student Aid at 1-800-433-3243.
Grant Program Funding
A-Z List of all Programs
Where can I obtain a list of all of the Federal grants awarded by the Department?
You can search and view a list of grant programs by title and office online.
What is a CFDA number and how can I find information on a specific program?
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 ED grants by CFDA number in ED Programs.
Grant Forecast of Funding
Which grants are inviting applications for new awards?
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. Please note the list is currently updated every two weeks.
How do I know if I am eligible for a Federal grant?
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. Not all programs listed are available immediately. Please read the individual application deadlines for each program.
How can I apply to be a grant reader for the U.S. Department of Education?
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.
Preventing Fraud, Waste and Abuse
How do I report fraud, waste, abuse, misuse or mismanagement of ED program funds?
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 contact our Office of the Inspector General and use their 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.
How do I find out if the school I want to attend is accredited?
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 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.
Complaint Against a College
How do I file a complaint against a college?
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:
- Office of the Inspector General investigates fraud, waste or abuse of federal educational funds, including federal student aid funds.
- Federal Student Aid's Ombudsman will help resolve issues regarding student loan complaints, by working with you and the lender.
- Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces several Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education. You may contact OCR at 1(800) 421-3481 or locate the enforcement office that serves your state or territory.
Finding a College
How can I find which colleges offer the program I'm interested in?
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/.
Higher Education Opportunity Act
What is the Higher Education Opportunity Act?
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.
Online or Distance Education Programs
How can I find a legitimate online or distance education program?
The U.S. Secretary of Education publishes a list of accrediting agencies by category. 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 the latest on accreditation and to access the full list of recognized accrediting agencies, please see Accreditation. 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.
Security on College Campuses
Where can I find information on campus safety?
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 at Campus Safety and Security search page. The Campus Safety and Security Survey allows schools to enter in their updated security data each year.
Research and Statistics on Institutions
How can I find information on the number of colleges, postsecondary degrees or faculty in the U.S.?
The information you seek is available through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). IPEDS provides data on enrollment, program completion, 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.
I want to study abroad. How can I authenticate my U.S. diploma or degree?
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. You may access the general contact information for the Secretary of State for all states at National Association of Secretaries of State.
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.
College Admissions for International Students
I am from another country, but am interested in attending a university in the USA. Can you tell me about the admissions procedures?
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. Please note there are different types of visas. 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.
I have a diploma or degree that was awarded in another country. Will my diploma/degree be recognized in the United States? How do I get my credentials evaluated?
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).
For 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 hundreds of 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 "school year," in the state field select "foreign country," and then select "Search" to 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/.
Where can I find information on studying abroad?
For general information about studying abroad, as well as links to relevant organizations, see Academic and Professional Mobility and the U.S. Department of State's USA Study Abroad website.
Studying in the U.S.
I am from another country and am interested in studying in the United States. Where can I find information about the education system in the U.S. and applying to study there?
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.
Teach in the U.S.
What steps do I need to follow to become certified and licensed to teach if I am moving from a foreign country?
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.
What are the visa requirements for students?
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 are available from the following sources:
- For information on student visa requirements, visit the U.S. Department of State Student Visa website.
- The U.S. Department of State provides support to a network of Educational Advising/Information Centers around the world. These centers advise prospective international students and other audiences on higher education and study opportunities in the United States.
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.
Does the U.S. Department of Education oversee home schooling for elementary and secondary school students?
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.
Office of Non-Public Education
What type of programs or assistance is offered through the U.S. Department of Education to private school students and staff?
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:
- Representing the U.S. Department of Education to the non-public school community.
- Offering advice and guidance within the Department on all matters affecting non-public education.
- Communicating with national, state and local education agencies and associations on non-public education topics.
- Communicating the interests and concerns of the non-public school community to the Department.
- Providing parents with information about education options for their children; and
- Providing technical assistance, workshops and publications.
For more information see Frequently Asked Questions Related to Nonpublic Schools
I am looking for an on-line K-12 school that is approved by the Department of Education. Can you assist me with locating a program?
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.
How do I locate a private school in the U.S.?
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.
Copyright Status Notice
Can I use something I found on your website?
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.
How do I order an education publication?
The Department's Publications (ED Pubs) program began five years ago to efficiently provide printed publications to customers. Since the program's inception, ED has fulfilled over 6,000 customer requests for printed materials. The last two years, however, saw a significant downturn for hard copy documents.
Please note that effective October 1, 2022, the official ED Pubs program was discontinued. Publications are still available – but onlyin digital format. You will have the option to view and download most resources using Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) or Microsoft Word. These resources can be found by searching ED's website, or by contacting the Information Resource Center at 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327).
Publications and resources related to financial aid for college or career school can be found at www.StudentAid.gov/resources.
Permission to Use ED Publication
Do I need permission to use material from one of the Department of Education's publications?
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.
National Blue Ribbon Schools
What is the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program?
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:
- Exemplary High Performing Schools are among their state's highest performing schools (top 15%) in Reading/English and Mathematics as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.
- Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools have made the greatest advances in closing achievement gaps (top 15%) between a school's subgroups and all students in Reading/English and Mathematics as measured by state assessments.
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 the NBRS Program website. Please contact the NBRS Program directly if you have any additional questions.
President's Education Awards Program
What is the Presidents Education Awards Program?
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 for further guidance.
What is the RISE recognition award?
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.
U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools
What is the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools Program?
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:
- Reduce environmental impact and costs;
- Improve the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff; and
- Provide effective environmental and sustainability education.
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.
U.S. Presidential Scholars Program
What is the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program?
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 or be nominated by their schools. Scholar and Teacher Awardee lists by year can be found on the awards page. For further information you may review the program's FAQs.
Research and Statistics
ED Data Express
Where can I find statistical information?
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 Data and Statistics page. This page contains links to:
- The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing education-related data in the U.S. and abroad. The NCES Website puts that data at your fingertips.
- The Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), sponsored by the Department's Institute of Education Sciences (IES), produces the world's premier database of journal and non-journal education literature. ERIC provides the public with a centralized website for searching the ERIC bibliographic database of more than 1.1 million citations going back to 1966.
- The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) is the Department's main agency for research, evaluation, and dissemination; statistics; and guidance to further evidence-based policy and practice.
- The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) was established by the Department to provide an independent, trusted source of scientific evidence regarding programs, products, practices and policies what works in education.
Where can I find quick facts on the number of schools in the U.S. etc.?
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.
NCES Kids' Zone
Is there a resource available for kids who want to conduct research?
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.
Postsecondary Education Data
Where is higher education data housed?
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.
Scientifically Based Research
Do you review research to see what works in education?
For more than a decade, the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) has been a central and trusted source of scientific evidence on education programs, products, practices, and policies. WWC reviews the research, determine which studies meet rigorous standards, and summarize the findings. WWC focuses on high-quality research to answer the question "what works in education?"
Special Education Data
Where can I find data on the number of students with disabilities served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)?
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.
Does the Department rank schools?
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 National Center for Education Statistics provides state-by-state information on achievement, attainment, demographics, enrollment, finances and teachers at the elementary, secondary and postsecondary levels.
- The National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) also known as "the Nation's Report Card" is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas. NAEP provides information about student performance in states that choose to participate in the state-level NAEP.
Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
Assistance for Children with Disabilities
I have a child with special needs. How do I determine if the school is providing my child with an appropriate education and services?
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 plan (IEP). Additional information and assistance can be found at the Center for Parent Information & Resources and the State Department of Special Education.
What kind of support is available to help people with disabilities gain access to technology?
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.
Compliance with Special Education Services
How does the federal government work with states to ensure compliance with special education laws?
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.
Disability Accommodations and Section 504
My child has a disability, but is not eligible for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). How can my child receive appropriate education services in the public school system?
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.
Eligibility for Special Education Services
How do I know if my school-aged child is eligible for special education? How would I have my child evaluated and assessed to determine eligibility?
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 child has a disability, as defined in Section 300.8 of the IDEA regulations, and
- the child needs special education services because of that disability.
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 plan (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.
- IDEA Website: The law, regulations, training materials, topic briefs, and related notices.
- Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) State Contacts: This is a listing of U.S. Department of Education staff members who can provide assistance, organized by state.
What law protects students with disabilities?
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. For more information you may search the IDEA statute and regulations.
How is an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) developed for my child?
The cornerstone of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (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]. For more information you can review guidance and resources related to IDEA and IEPs.
Vocational Rehabilitation Services
What programs are available to help an individual with a disability gain skills, pursue additional education, and find a job?
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 office in the Department 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 are given 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 a process for appeals 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 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 RSA state liaison.
The RSA website provides additional information. To apply for benefits, or for more information about the services in your area, please contact your state VR agency.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
What are my rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)?
High School Transcripts
How do I get a copy of my high school transcripts?
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.
Can schools share student directory information with military recruiters?
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.
Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA)
Does my child's school need consent to conduct a survey?
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:
- Political affiliations;
- Mental and psychological problems potentially embarrassing to the student and his/her family;
- Sex behavior and attitudes;
- Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating and demeaning behavior;
- Critical appraisals of other individuals with whom respondents have close family relationships;
- Legally recognized privileged or analogous relationships, such as those of lawyers, physicians, and ministers;
- Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student's parent*; or
- Income (other than that required by law to determine eligibility for participation in a program or for receiving financial assistance under such program.)
Transcripts from Closed Schools
How do I obtain a copy of my transcript from a college that is closed?
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. Please note that there are different agencies for secondary and higher education. Information about financial aid and closed schools is also available.
Teaching Initiatives and Resources
How do I become certified or licensed to teach?
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.
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 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.
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
What kinds of programs do you have to help teachers pay back their loans?
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 borrowed:
Perkins Loan Teacher Cancellation: 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. 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.
Stafford Loan Forgiveness: 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 Stafford loan forgiveness through the lender or servicer of his or her loan.
Learn more about Teacher Loan Forgiveness, eligibility requirements, and how to apply. You may also be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
Note: You may not receive a benefit for the same qualifying payments or period of service for Teacher Loan Forgiveness and Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
Troops to Teachers
Are there any special programs to help military personnel become teachers?
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).
Resources for Teachers
Where can I obtain resources for teachers?
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. Resources can be found on their Educators page.