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Deborah Koolbeck

Senior Director of Government Relations, AACTE

Federal Work Study Opportunity for Clinical Practice

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The U.S. Department of Education launched an Experimental Sites Initiative focused on the Federal Work Study (FWS) program. FWS is a need-based federal program that provides part-time jobs to students to supplement the financial assistance received from the Federal Pell Grant program and other aid sources. The Experimental Site Initiative for FWS waives several of the statutory and regulatory provisions, including that which would limit the number of hours a student could work, permitting full-time opportunities. 

Webinar Recordings of July Federal Update Now Available

Did you miss the July 2019 Federal Update webinar? Not to worry! The recording and the slides are now available on the federal page of the AACTE Advocacy Center for AACTE members to access. 

Be sure to sign up for the AACTE Action Alerts to make your voice heard with members of Congress as the appropriations season continues to unfold now that the Bipartisan Budget Agreement for Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021 has been sent to President Trump for his signature. Review the bill here and listen to the webinar recordings to learn more about its impact on education funding.

The AACTE Federal Update webinars will take a hiatus in August, so stay tuned for the next webinars in September. Remember, AACTE currently offers the update twice each month in the same week; one on Tuesday evening at 5:00 p.m. EDT and one on Wednesday morning at 11:00 a.m. EDT.  Registration details for the AACTE webinars in September will be available soon.

AACTE wants to hear from you! Is there another format that you would like to receive a monthly federal update? If so, please email me at dkoolbeck@aacte.org and let me know what format you recommend. Thank you!

Deal Struck to Raise FY20 & FY21 Budget Caps

Graph showing the increase in non-defense Discretionary Spending caps for FY 2020 & 2021Energized by the need to raise the debt ceiling of the United States by early September, congressional leaders and the Administration struck a deal to raise the discretionary spending caps as established in the Budget Control Act of 2011 on July 22, 2019. In addition, the deal suspends the debt ceiling through July 2021, preventing the debt ceiling from being entangled in the 2020 election campaigning and the associated political maneuvering.

Known as the Bipartisan Budget Agreement for Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021, the proposed legislation still needs to pass the U.S. House of Representatives (House) and the U.S. Senate (Senate), both of which intend to take up the measure before the August recess. This sets the stage for the FY20 appropriations process to move forward, although there will be a Continuing Resolution (CR) passed before September 30 to give the House and Senate time to conference their bills. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not moved any of the 12 appropriations bills through the subcommittee and full committee process, and the House has passed 10 of the 12 bills. The House moved the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) bill in a “minibus” that included the Defense bill—reminiscent of last year’s efforts that led to the two bills signed together into law before the end of the fiscal year. While the Senate Appropriations Committee currently intends to move both Labor-H and Defense bills together through their process, it is unclear if this will be maintained based on the budget deal. The deal does specify that the Congress shall avoid an omnibus, a bill that includes all 12 appropriations bills with no stance on minibuses illuminated.

This deal sets the defense discretionary cap at $667 billion for FY20 and $672 billion for FY21 and sets the non-defense discretionary cap at $622 billion for FY20 and $627 billion for FY21. This means we can expect a tight year in FY21 given the small increase of $5 billion over FY20 for non-defense discretionary funding.

For now, the next step to watch is the allocation of funding to each of the 12 appropriations bills in the Senate. The Labor-H bill contains approximately 33% of the non-defense discretionary, but it has never received 33% of the increased funding. The allocation will determine if the Senate keeps any of the increases that the House passed to programs important to the profession, including the Teacher Quality Partnership grant program, the Special Education Personnel Preparation grant program, and Title II of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Registration Open: July 2019 Federal Update Webinar

Capital Rotunda and US flag

As Congress rolls into August recess, what is on the “must do” list for September and beyond? Will a budget deal emerge to raise the caps on both defense and non-defense discretionary funds? Could the government default on its debt, or will Congress raise the debt ceiling? What about the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations deadline of September 30? Is the government going to shut down? Is the Higher Education Act reauthorization in motion or stalled, and what does either one mean for fall congressional activity?

These questions and more will be explored in this AACTE member exclusive webinar. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions at the end. This webinar will be recorded and posted on the AACTE Advocacy Center federal page.

Register today!

July 30, 2019      5:00 – 6:00 p.m. EDT                      

July 31, 2019      11:00 a.m. – 12 noon EDT            

Note: Like the Congress, AACTE Federal Update Webinars is taking an August recess. Watch for the blog post announcing the September Federal Update Webinars for dates and times. 

AACTE Member Exclusive: June Federal Update Webinars


As we transition into summer in the northern hemisphere, timing for the U.S. Congress gets tight and tighter. August recess looms with a short time frame to wrap up the work on the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations process in September. How many of the 12 bills waiting to be passed will be completed by September 30? How many agencies will operate under a Continuing Resolution? Will there be a deal to raise the caps on non-defense and defense discretionary spending? When will the federal government reach its debt ceiling and how does that impact the appropriations process? And what is unfolding with the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act?

The AACTE June 2019 Federal Update webinars will share the latest on these questions in this members-only opportunity. Plus there is always time to get your questions answered at the end of the webinar, including topics or happenings that were not covered in the update.

We offer the webinar on two different days and at different times to accommodate schedules and time zones, and we will also post a recording on the AACTE Advocacy Center’s federal page so you can stay in the know even if you cannot attend in person.

Register today!

Tuesday, June 18, 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. EDT

Wednesday, June 19, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon EDT  

Register Today for a May 2019 Federal Update Webinar

May has the Congress working hard! The U.S. House of Representatives (House) is moving forward at an intense pace on the 12 appropriations bills, moving the Labor, Health & Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill through the full committee first.

What are the funding levels for programs important for the profession? Where are the House and the U.S. Senate on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act? What else is unfolding that could impact the profession? These topics and more will be covered in the AACTE member exclusive May 2019 Federal Update webinar, offered on two different days and at different times of the day to accommodate member schedules. A recording of the webinar and the slides will be posted on the AACTE Advocacy Center’s federal page.

Register for the webinar that fits your schedule:

May 21, 2019     5:00 – 6:00 p.m. EDT 

Registration Link

May 22, 2019     11 a.m. – 12 noon EDT

Registration Link

Get Answers to Your Questions at April’s Federal Update Webinar


The AACTE Federal Update Webinars are back! As April has unfolded, quite a few things have started to bloom and grow in Washington, DC, including the budget and appropriations process. The President’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Request was released and the Congress is in full appropriations season. But will the caps on defense and non-defense discretionary funds be raised to avoid deep cuts in programs? What is unfolding with legislation, including the Higher Education Act reauthorization?

We will cover this and more during the AACTE April 2019 Federal Update webinar. Remember there is always time to get your questions answered, and the webinar will be recorded and posted on the AACTE Advocacy Center federal page.

Register Today:

Tuesday, April 23 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. EDT

Wednesday, April 24, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon EDT

U.S. Department of Education Announces Process for TEACH Grant Reconsideration

As the U.S. Department of Education is engaging in negotiated rulemaking on the TEACH grants, the Department announced that it is opening a process for reconsideration of conversion. TEACH grant recipients study to teach in a high-need field and commit to teaching in a high-need school in their chosen field for 4 years. Recipients have an 8-year window in which to complete these 4 years of service. If a TEACH grant recipient does not complete this service, the grant funds received convert to Direct Unsubsidized Federal Loan. For those TEACH grant recipients whose grant(s) were converted to loan(s) and who met or are meeting the TEACH grant service requirements, a reconsideration can be requested.

The Department shares the following on its webpage:

If you met or are meeting the TEACH Grant service requirements within the eight-year service obligation period, but had your grants converted to loans because you did not comply with the annual certification requirement, you can request reconsideration of those conversions.

Advocacy PreCon in Louisville will focus on “A Return to Discourse”

As you prepare for AACTE’s Annual Meeting, I would like to highlight a new opportunity for attendees— an advocacy preconference! Preconferences happen on Thursday, February 21, and this one is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Join members of the AACTE Committee on Government Relations and Advocacy as well as other colleagues in the field for “A Return to Discourse: A Foundation for Effective Advocacy.”

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