Additional Government Programs Benefiting Teachers and Students

 

Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education
Teacher Tax Deductions
Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs
INS Exchange Student Requirements (SEVIS)

 

Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006

On August 12, 2006, President George W. Bush signed into law the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006, which reauthorizes the U.S. Department of Education’s vocational and technical education programs.  The act is designed to help develop more fully the academic, career and technical skills of high school and postsecondary students who enroll in career and technical education programs.

Provision for Private School Personnel and Students

In this reauthorization, the provision regarding the participation of private school personnel has been slightly modified, and new provisions addressing the participation of private school secondary students and consultation with private school officials have been added.  Provisions for the participation of private school personnel and students in the act include:
 
Personnel – To the extent practicable, and upon written request from private school representatives, local educational agencies (LEAs) may provide professional development programs for career and technical education for private school personnel;
 
Students – Except as prohibited by State or local law, LEAs, upon written request from private school representatives, may provide for the meaningful participation in career and technical education programs and activities of secondary private school students who reside in the geographical area served by the LEA; and
 
Consultation
– Upon written request from private school representatives, an LEA shall in a timely and meaningful manner consult with private school officials regarding the participation in career and technical education programs and activities of secondary private school students and teachers.
 

Teacher Tax Deductions

Prior to the December 2006 recess, Congress has approved an extension of the tax deduction benefit for expenses incurred by teachers in public or private elementary and secondary schools.

Eligible educators may be able to deduct up to $250 for their non-reimbursed expenses for the purchases of for books, supplies, computer equipment (including related software and services) and supplementary materials that are used in their classrooms.

Additional information from the IRS about the educator expenses deduction is available by clicking here.
 

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs

Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005 (HERA) grants teacher loan forgiveness under certain conditions.  The provisions of HERA expand the loan forgiveness program to teachers employed in nonprofit private schools.
 
HERA authorizes up to $17,500 in student loan forgiveness for certain full-time secondary school teachers of mathematics or science who meet the "highly qualified" teacher definition under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
 
HERA also authorizes up to $17,500 in student loan forgiveness for certain highly qualified full-time elementary and secondary school special education teachers whose primary responsibility is to provide special education to children with disabilities (as those terms are defined in Section 602 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). To qualify, a special education teacher must be teaching children with disabilities that correspond to the teacher’s special education training and must have demonstrated knowledge and teaching skills in the content areas of the elementary or secondary school curriculum in which he or she is teaching.
 

Private School Exemptions

The HERA expands the loan forgiveness program to teachers who are exempt from state certification and employed in nonprofit private schools. The HERA provides that an individual who is employed as a teacher in a nonprofit private school and is exempt from state certification requirements may have such employment qualify for the loan forgiveness program if the teacher can demonstrate rigorous subject knowledge and skills by taking competency tests in the applicable grade levels and subject areas.
 
The HERA requires that the competency tests be recognized by five or more states for the purpose of fulfilling the highly qualified teacher requirements under NCLB, and that the score achieved by a teacher on each test equal or exceed the average passing score of those five states. The HERA makes no change for private school teachers who are subject to state certification and who meet the "highly qualified" teacher definition under NCLB; they will continue to qualify for student loan forgiveness to the extent they meet the eligibility requirements.

Teachers who do not teach in the specialties noted above and began teaching after October 30, 2004, may be eligible for up to $5,000 in student loan forgiveness, so long as they meet the "highly qualified" teacher definition under NCLB or, effective July 1, 2006, meet the requirements set forth in the HERA for private school teachers, and meet the eligibility requirements set forth below. Teachers who began their teaching service prior to October 30, 2004, continue to qualify for up to $5,000 in student loan forgiveness and are not required tomeet the "highly qualified" teacher definition.
 

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Eligibility Rules Applicable to All Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) and Federal Direct Loan Program Borrowers

The following rules apply to all applicants for Teacher Loan Forgiveness benefits:

  • A teacher seeking student loan forgiveness must be a new borrower, which is defined as a borrower who did not have an outstanding balance on a FFEL or Direct Loan on October 1, 1998, or on the date the borrower obtained a FFEL or Direct Loan after October 1, 1998.
  • Eligible loans include Federal Stafford Loans (subsidized and unsubsidized); Federal Direct Stafford/Ford Loans (Direct Subsidized Loans); Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford/Ford Loans (Direct Unsubsidized Loans); and any portion of a Federal Consolidation Loan or Federal Direct Consolidation Loan that was used to pay off one of these eligible loans.
  • The loan cannot be in a default status.
  • A teacher must have taught for five consecutive complete academic years in an eligible, low-income school. A low-income school is an elementary or secondary school that
    • is in a school district that qualifies for funds under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended
    • has been selected by the Secretary based on a determination that more than 30 percent of the school’s total enrollment is made up of children from low-income families; and
    • is listed in the annual Directory of Designated Low-Income Schools for Teacher Cancellation Benefits.
  • Click HERE for more information on the “Low-Income School Search” and other Perkins grant information
  • Click HERE for more information on repaying student FFEL and Direct Loan Program grants

 

United States Immigration Service-Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)

SEVIS became mandatory for all schools as of February 15. 2003.  SEVIS is an Internet-based system that allows schools and the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to exchange data on the visa status of international students. Accurate and current information is transmitted electronically throughout an F-1 or J-1 student's academic career and J-1 scholar's stay in the United States. U.S. embassies and consulates also will have access to SEVIS.
 
New procedures.  New procedures for admitting and tracking non-immigrant students have been statutorily required of INS by the USA Patriot Act and the Border Security Act. These new procedures will use an electronic system called "Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) to maintain up-to-date information on foreign students and exchange students in order to ensure that they arrive in the United States, attend the school in which they have registered, and properly maintain their status while in the United States.
 
SEVIS system. All educational institutions previously authorized to enroll F-1/M-1 foreign students must be re-certified on SEVIS. The purpose of this re-certification is to review the bona fides of their educational programs and their compliance with foreign student requirements.
 
Application options. Three options are available for Catholic schools:

  1. A diocese may complete the I-17 and elect to process and maintain all paperwork and fulfill other INS requirements. If the diocese is both applying for the I-17 and maintaining all records, the diocese pays the review fee and the site visit fee for a total of $580. Any school in the diocese can educate an F-1 student. (This is a new option; it was not listed as an option on the earlier version of this document).
  2. A diocese completing the I-17 may do so on behalf of any of its schools accepting non-immigrant students. If the diocese completes the process in this way, they should designate each school desiring to be listed under "campuses" on the I-17 form. The INS will assess the review fee of $230 for the Diocese and the on-site visit fee of $350 for each school listed under "campuses" on the I-17. Student records relating to INS requirements for F-1 students are maintained at the school attended by the student.
  3. If the Diocese is not electing to be the applying entity for the I-17, or if the Diocese is not applying on behalf of all schools located within the Diocese (such as private Catholic schools), individual schools desiring to admit (or continue to admit) non-immigrant students can also complete the I-17 process and will be assessed the total of $580 for the review and on-site fees.

 
Note that in all cases, a re-certification process with accompanying fees is required every two years.
 
Additional information. SEVIS reporting requirements and additional information can be found here.