Thursday, October 01, 2009

Legislative Affairs - American School Counselor Association


Urge Members of the Senate to Sign Sen. Feingold's Letter Requesting Funding for the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program (ESSCP)

ASCA has been working closely with Sen. Russ Feingold's (D-Wis.) staff to, once again, distribute a "Dear Colleague" letter to all the members of the Senate urging his colleagues to sign a letter requesting the Senate Appropriations Committee to provide increased funding for the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling program in fiscal year (FY) 2010. By funding ESSCP at an increased level, monies will be made available to both elementary and secondary schools to provide comprehensive school counseling services. This is due to ESSCP's statuary funding trigger; secondary schools (i.e., middle and high) are not eligible to participate in the program until total funding exceeds $40 million.

In fiscal year 2009, Congress appropriated $52 million for ESSCP. This program has slowly but steadily been climbing and has surpassed that funding trigger for two years now. It is imperative that we keep this momentum going as more school budgets are being cut and more school counseling positions are becoming eliminated. Therefore, it is critical to show congressional support for ESSCP by having as many senators as possible sign the Feingold letter.

Call, write or e-mail both of your senators and urge them to show support for ESSCP by signing onto the Feingold Dear Colleague Letter, which requests the Senate Appropriations Committee provide increased funding for this essential program in fiscal year 2010. You can call your senator by calling the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.If you do not know who your senators are, or you would like to find the direct line to the appropriate office, you can locate that information on the Web. If you would like to e-mail your senators but are unable to locate the appropriate addresses please e-mail Amanda Fitzgerald at ASCA and include your name and the state in which you reside and the state in which you are employed (if different).

What should you say? Tell your senators your name and where you are from; you may be asked for your name and number. As a constituent, your call is important to your senator's office. Ask to speak with the education legislative assistant because you want the senator to sign on to the Dear Colleague letter being circulated by Sen. Russ Feingold requesting that the Senate Appropriations Committee provide an increase in funding for the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling Program in FY 2010. Feel free to emphasize the meaningful role school counselors play in our students' lives.

If congressional staff have any further questions, they can contact Amanda Beaumont in Sen. Feingold's office at (202) 224-5323 or

If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact Amanda Fitzgerald.

Please do this today. Deadline for signatures is May 7, 2009.

ESSCP  Awards Made: The Department of Education announced recipients of 52 new 2008 awards. Get more info.

Loan Forgiveness for School Counselors FAQ

Important New Resource for Borrowers is a new web site that provides independent, reliable information about Income-Based Repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness, two new federal programs to help make student loan repayment fair and manageable. The site explains the programs and will be updated as new information becomes available. Users can register to get updates on important developments as the U.S. Department of Education finalizes regulations and creates the systems for managing the new programs.

If you are hearing from individuals or groups worrying about student loan payments or those wondering if they can afford to take a public service job, will be helpful.

Income-Based Repayment (IBR) is a new payment option for federal student loans. It will help borrowers keep their loan payments affordable with payment caps (less than 10% of income for most eligible borrowers) based on income and family size. IBR also will forgive remaining debt, if any, after up to 25 years of qualifying payments. Public Service Loan Forgiveness will forgive remaining debt after 10 years of eligible employment and qualifying loan payments for people working in key public service professions such as teaching, government, social work, law enforcement, and non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations.

These new programs take effect in July 2009. It will take a while before the U.S. Department of Education has all of the regulations written and the systems up and running. In the interim, will provide information on these two new federal programs, as well as other student financial assistance. On this website, consumers also can sign up to receive alerts about new developments as they occur.

National Alliance of Pupil Services Organizations
ASCA is a member of The National Alliance of Pupil Services Organizations (NAPSO).  NAPSO is a coalition of national professional organizations whose members provide and support a variety of school-based prevention and intervention services to assist students in becoming effective learners and productive citizens.

NAPSO organizations represent over a million members, including school counselors, school nurses, psychologists, school psychologists, social workers and school social workers; occupational therapists, physical therapists, art therapists, dance/movement therapists, and music therapists; speech-language pathologists and audiologists; teachers, students, parents, and administrators.

NAPSO promotes interdisciplinary practice and collaboration and advocates for ensuring access to quality pupil services for all students. NAPSO member organizations are bound together by our common vision to bring all students, in all states, the programs and professional support services they need to insure success in school. Click here for more information.

Legislative Updates
Each week, ASCA distributes an e-mail update to interested members alerting them to education-related events on Capitol Hill. To sign up, mark your membership record to "receive legislative updates." 

Legislative Links
Searching for information on a particular member of Congress or a particular bill? Check out these links:

U.S. Senate
U.S. House of Representatives
The White House
Library of Congress Thomas System


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