President Obama, first lady visit Miami to launch new college financial aid form drive

McClatchy Washington BureauMarch 7, 2014 

— The president and first lady will visit Coral Reef High School in Miami on Friday to launch a new program to encourage students to fill out and submit the FAFSA.

FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is needed before students can qualify  for federal Pell grants and student loans. Pell grants don't have to be paid back, and federal student loans have more protections for borrowers than private loans.

One part of the FAFSA Completion Initiative involves a government effort to identify individual students who haven’t completed the form and then try to encourage them to do it, starting in the next school year.

The president also is expected to discuss education plans in his budget proposal, including $300 million for a new Race to the Top competition for states and school districts to reduce the achievement gap; a $150 million proposal for high school redesign to tie more coursework to real-world work; and $200 million to prepare teachers to use digital technologies for individualized learning.

Miami-Dade schools are doing a lot of this now: The system got a $32 million Race to the Top grant to change instruction in middle schools; Coral Reef High school redesigned its system around five academies of health sciences, agriculture science and engineering, legal and public affairs, visual and performing arts, the the International Baccalaureate program; and the district installed high-speed broadband in all schools.

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