Last week, we looked back at this school year, and talked about five trends and issues that shaped our world of work, and the lives of our students. This week, we look forward to the fall, and anticipate what new challenges lie ahead—and make sure you read to the end for a special announcement!
ESSA changes could affect counselors and counseling Few counselors shed a tear when the federal government finally retired No Child Left Behind last year, since the program put an incredible emphasis on testing—testing generally left to counselors to administer. Replaced by the Elementary and Secondary School Act, states were asked to develop their own plans for how they would use a lump sum of federal money known as Title IV funds, and if they planned to use that money to continue to support counseling programs.
Most counselors don’t know what their state proposed to the federal government—and those that do likely know that President Trump has proposed giving states no Title IV money at all. It’s worth a moment of your time this summer to find out who your state’s ESSA contact is; the money you may have been getting for your program may not be there, come fall.
Return of Year-Round Pell On the other hand, the federal government has done students and counselors a huge favor by restoring the right for students to use Pell grants and other federal funds to pay for college throughout the year, including the summer. For the past few years, students using Pell funds in Fall and Spring terms received no Pell funding for summer. With summer funding restored, more students can return to a year-round, part-tine approach to college attendance, allowing them to work year-round as well.
Return of IRS Retrieval Tool Thousands of students completing the FAFSA got a huge boost this year by checking a box that allowed the federal government to use IRS data submitted by the student and their parents to verify FAFSA eligibility. This verification tool was taken down for security reasons this spring, but it will be back and ready to go come this —good news for counselors and families alike.
Earlier Applications Counselors are reporting an increase in students asking for high school transcripts as early as June of the junior year, since some colleges are now accepting applications that early. What’s going to happen when panicky parents find out school records offices are closed for the summer? Stay tuned, and be ready to remind parents that any application submitted by October 15th must receive equal consideration.
Free College Programs on the Rise Counselors may also want to plan on using part of August to get caught up on the many free college programs springing up throughout the country. Most are only for in-state students, most only cover tuition, and most have lots of details to follow—but it’s clear your families will want to know more. Make sure you’re ahead of this curve, and remember that free isn’t always free.
Finally, a big thank you to Gene Kalb and the readers of this column. Word about Counselor’s Corner has spread, and Counselor’s Corner has been named one of the top mental health blogs for 2017 by Online Counseling Programs.com. This is due to the loyalty and active engagement of our readers, and the enthusiastic support ofHS Counselor Week editor Gene Kalb.
An interview about the column can be found here—thanks for reading, and it’s gratifying to know the column is making a difference in your work with students.