#RethinkSchool: Reconnecting with What Matters Most

It seems like yesterday that I began my career in higher education in a financial aid office in Upstate New York. It was challenging work, but especially fulfilling to see—every day—the very students whose lives were changed after receiving federal student loans, grants, or work-study funds.

On the Back to School tour, I met some hard-working, caring financial aid administrators, who are providing access to education to some remarkable young people pursuing the dream of higher education.

Administrators, faculty, and staff at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA; Elizabeth High School in Elizabeth, NJ; Monroe College in New Rochelle, NY; and FDNY-Captain Vernon A. Richard High School for Fire and Life Safety in Brooklyn, NY shared with me their ideas and concerns about applying for, receiving, and repaying federal student aid. That feedback—from the people most-impacted by what we do at Federal Student Aid (FSA)—matters, and I’m eager to share it with ED and FSA leadership in the coming weeks.

At each school, I also had the opportunity to tout FSA’s first-ever mobile app, myStudentAid. It was rewarding to see faces light up in each room when I explained that starting on Oct. 1, students, parents, and the individuals who assist them will able to complete the 2019–20 FAFSA® form easily and securely via our mobile app, as well as on fafsa.gov, just like always.

At FSA, we’re working hard to make federal student aid as simple and accessible as possible because we haven’t forgotten that behind every FAFSA form is a student working to achieve a dream. And we recognize that is what matters most.

  • Kathleen Smith met and held discussions with students at Monroe College.


Kathleen Smith is Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid.

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Note: This is a post in our #RethinkSchool series. The series features innovative schools and stories from students, parents and educators highlighting efforts across the United States to rethink school. The #RethinkSchool series presents examples of approaches schools, educators, families and others are using to rethink school in their individual and unique circumstances. Blog articles provide insights on the activities of schools, programs, grantees and other education stakeholders to promote continuing discussion of educational innovation and reform. The Department of Education does not endorse any educational product, service, curriculum or pedagogy.

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Item Date: 
10/03/2018 - 1:13pm